Generational News & Views April 30, 2009


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This is the March 2009 edition of the Luckie-produced Generational News & Views newsletter. It takes a quick topical look into the lives of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y.

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Generational News & Views April 30, 2009

  1. 1. BOOMERS: 45 to 63 years old POPULATION: 78 million GENERATIONAL INSIGHT: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2006 to 2016, the number of workers ages 55 to 64 will increase by 36.5%, while the number of workers who are 65 and older will increase by 81% 2
  2. 2. You may have heard of a social organization for middle-aged women called the Red Hat Society. It‘s now ten years old and 1.5 million members strong. But a decade after the Red Hatters got their start here come the Blue Thongs to attract the Baby Boomers. Shaking things up in cities across the country are Baby Boomer women who see themselves as aging differently than their mothers did. They call themselves the Blue Thong Society. ―It‘s really not about being able to wear a thong,‖ said Kelly Golden, co-founder of the Blue Thong Society. ―It‘s about the mentality that goes along with a thong.‖ The blue hair? No way. Blue thong? Any day. The group‘s mantra is ―fight frump.‖ The Blue Thong Society got its start in Southern California. A recent event included cocktails and beauty treatments, but the group is both fun and philanthropic. The group supports local charities helping women. They held a recent clothing drive for women who need a helping hand getting a job. Source: 3
  3. 3. Sometimes, when the world economy is going to hell, your core customers are cutting spending on luxury products like yours and sales are plummeting, you‘ve just gotta say, ―Screw it. Let‘s ride.‖ That was the closing line in a full-page ad run by Harley-Davidson in The New York Times last month, which had written an article earlier that month highlighting the company‘s challenges. The headline copy struck the same tone: ―You can file our obituary where the sun don‘t shine.‖ The Times had observed that Harley sales have been eroding as Baby Boomers, the motorcycle company‘s core demographic, have struggled to put food on the table. Harley‘s response: Whip up some of that ol‘ anti-establishment Easy Rider rhetoric that appeals to the inner rebel in all Boomers. Said the ad: ―It‘s times like these that raise the important questions. Do you cower, or do you live free? Do you succumb to fear and doubt, or do you seize the throttle and give it a fearless twist forward?‖ Source: 4
  4. 4. Alvaro Fernandez ―estimates that consumers spent more than $80 million in 2008 on mental fitness,‖ reports The Wall Street Journal. ―You have an industry with tools and coaches,quot; says Alvaro, whose firm SharpBrains tracks the market for ―brain fitness software.‖ This emerging ―brain fitness industry‖ is based ―on a relatively new scientific discovery: neuroplasticity, the brain‘s ability to rewire itself throughout life by creating neural connections in response to mental activity.‖ The ―brain fitness‖ industry includes Nintendo‘s Brain Age game, which has sold some 5.5 million copies in the U.S. since 2006. It also gives rise to Vibrant Brains, a so-called ―brain gym‖ where members pay a monthly fee ―to work out on 20 computer stations loaded with ‗mental fitness‘ software, including a ‗neurobics circuit‘ that purports to stretch the brain.‖ Exercises typically require users to distinguish between a series of similar images, such as a dozen Monet painting. Vibrant Brains appeals to Linda Hale Bucklin, 63, who says her regular mental workouts help her find her car keys more quickly and have also helped improve her tennis game. Source: 5
  5. 5. It‘s sink or swim time for many Boomer homeowners. 30% of mortgage holders aged 45 to 54 are under water and owe more than their homes are worth, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The same age group saw their net worth plummet by about 45% since 2004, thanks to the housing bust and the Wall Street meltdown. Seduced by rising real estate prices during the boom, many older homeowners failed to save for retirement. As a result, even those who do have their heads above water will find it harder to retire. No age group escaped the recession unscathed. But Boomers who used home equity as a savings account got the harshest wake-up call of all. Selling now means coming to the closing with cash, while those who can afford to wait have no way of knowing when the market will turn around. Wanted: Financial advisers who can help struggling Boomers make the smartest choice. Source: Iconoculture 6
  6. 6. Humana Inc. has rolled out a Web site devoted to helping Baby Boomers get the most out of retirement. The site features tips on topics such as money, travel and health. The site is divided into four sections – work, self, family and play. Each section features an expert blogger who writes about the topic, as well as useful links and social networking. ―We‘ve tried to assemble all the information and interaction Boomers will need in one convenient place and are committed to regularly enhancing our site to meet their changing needs,‖ Humana CEO Jim Murray said in a news release. ―It‘s our hope that this information might guide Boomers to a healthier lifestyle, prepare them for choosing the right health plan or give them an idea of how much savings they‘ll need for retirement.‖ Source: Houston Business Journal 7
  7. 7. GEN X: 32 to 44 years old POPULATION: 53 million GENERATIONAL INSIGHT: Actions to offset financial stresses: 66% using coupons • 65% cutting back on entertainment • 57% paying down debts • 55% reducing credit card spending • 46% Cutting back on travel/vacations • Source: 2009 Scottrade American Retirement Study 8
  8. 8. Baby showers are famous for delicious food and boring drinks. Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-Be will have the guest of honor abuzz with delight. The pocket-size book features non-alcoholic drinks that satisfy cravings for the real thing. There is even a blog dedicated to Preggatinis. Mamarita, Hot Butter Mum‘s Rum, Gingertini and Momosa are a few of the creative concoctions that incorporate freshly squeezed juices, veggies and other healthful (and helpful) ingredients like ginger, which eases nausea. Organized by pregnancy stages and symptoms, the book offers party tips and even pulls the hubby into the loop with ―de-virginized‖ versions. Making healthy drinks from scratch is not only fun, but also eases concerns over maintaining a proper diet at such a critical time. Moms-to-be are looking for an excuse to indulge without compromising health, and there‘s only so many variations on a smoothie. Source: Iconoculture 9
  9. 9. In an attempt to help prevent childhood obesity, juice maker Mott‘s recently launched an effort to address the issue across My Gym Children‘s Fitness Centers nationwide. Mott‘s will run yearlong health and wellness-themed advertising in the gyms, along with posters and ―Mott‘s for Tots‖ growth charts. My Gym Children‘s Fitness Centers have 200 locations in the U.S. and offer physical education, sports and gymnastics classes for children. The campaign aims to reach health-conscious moms in an environment where the message would be most relevant, said David Teichner, CEO of Channel M, which worked with Mott‘s on the campaign. It‘s about ―taking two brands that have the same focus and putting them together in a very engaging and seamless way,‖ Teichner said. In addition to the ads, Mott‘s is handing out juice samples to youngsters (ages two to five) during workout sessions. Source: 10
  10. 10. Kodak is using an arsenal of national media properties anchored by assets under the recently formed Women@NBCU banner to drive a value message for its fledgling printer and ink business. The new campaign uses a combination of branded integrations on properties including Bravo, Oxygen and iVillage, and, to a lesser degree, Nickelodeon. Print, online and TV spots drive viewers to a Web site,, where users can compare ink prices with those from brands including HP, Epson, Canon, Lexmark and Brother. Leslie Dance, VP of brand marketing at Kodak, said ―the company is targeting consumers who are: female, 40, feisty and facing frugality.‖ These women, she added, are usually a family‘s ―memory keeper.‖ Source: 11
  11. 11. Even the most reluctant household helpers will be clamoring to clean with The Chore Board. Parents just pick a reward for each child, and then every well-done job moves the helper one step closer to the desired prize. A little motivation goes a long way. Jobs can involve cleaning, organizing, helping with younger siblings or anything the family sees fit. The magnetic board mounts easily on the refrigerator or can hang on the wall. The set also includes eight playing pieces and a dry-erase marker so parents can make and update the list of jobs that need to be done. Source: 12
  12. 12. Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry is part instruction manual, part self-help book, part catharsis vehicle for parents trying to introduce more freedom into their kids‘ lives without arrest — cardiac or otherwise. Sure, the book is a little polemical. But it‘s also practical. Author Lenore Skenazy offers exercises for parents to try, ranked from the mild Free- Range Baby Step to One Giant Leap for Free-Range Kind. The book arrives on shelves one year after Skenazy made news for letting her 9-year-old son make a trip from Bloomingdale‘s to his family‘s Manhattan home by himself. When it comes to their kids, parents haven‘t lost their desire for closeness or security. But many are starting to ask questions about who that closeness and security might really be serving. Parents, particularly Xer parents, are starting to see developmental value in kid freedom. They‘re seeking practical and emotional support (i.e., permission) to give their kids that freedom. Source: 13
  13. 13. GEN Y: 11 to 31 years old POPULATION: 84 million GENERATIONAL INSIGHT: What 15.5 million U.S. Internet users 12-17 are doing on social networks: 91% staying in touch with friends • 72% making plans with friends • 49% making new friends • 17% flirting • Source: Pew Internet via 14
  14. 14. The already bustling world of tween online communities gets an athletic overhaul at Action Allstars, a gaming site geared toward pint-size professional sports lovers. For a low monthly subscription fee ($6), fresh-faced gamers of all ages can try their hand at various mini-games (football throwing, surfing, three-point shooting) and engage in adult-monitored sanitized chat. Thousands of eager cyber athletes (the site already has 100,000 registrants since its winter launch) collect points, which they can use to outfit their avatar with customized pro gear via licensing partnerships with the NBA and MLB. Parents and kids have been bonding over sports for ages; bringing that love to laptop land is a natural home run. The success of tween online communities has proven that parents are willing to pony up low subscription fees to place their kiddos in online environments that offer adult-monitored peace of mind. Source: Iconoculture 15
  15. 15. English schoolchildren will no longer have to study the Victorians or World War II under proposals to overhaul the primary-school curriculum. New draft curriculum plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes. The proposed plan includes traditional areas of learning, including phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic, but includes more modern media and Web-based skills as well as a greater focus on environmental education. Children will leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain ―fluency‖ in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spell-checker alongside how to spell. Source: 16
  16. 16. When the going gets tough, the tough cover up — at least among teens. Baggy boyfriend jeans are edging out skimpy low- rise denims, while bling‘s giving way to more muted fashions, industry analysts report. The trend is manna from heaven for tween/teen Christian groups like Pure Fashion and Secret Keeper Girl, which have been lobbying for less flesh. But the new modesty is less faith-driven than recession-related, with young consumers looking to stretch their dollars with go-anywhere clothes. ―What‘s provocative has often been ultra trendy,‖ notes retail consultant Ken Nisch of JGA. ―And it just doesn't make sense to buy things you can‘t wear for a lot of occasions anymore.‖ Low-rise jeans haven‘t disappeared — yet. But smart retailers are starting to diversify with styles that appeal to modest teens along with divas and goth girls. Teen fashionistas are still shopping, with several big chains reporting modest gains. But they‘re really laying their plastic down at stores like American Apparel, which sells basic cotton casual wear. Modest fashion has been making a modest comeback for some time. Downsized pocketbooks could amp the trend into something with staying power. Source: Iconoculture 17
  17. 17. • Facebook fan pages • Facebook application • Myspace page • Widget on a popular media site or blog • iPhone application • Google Phone application • Blackberry application • Through mobile networks like Loopt or Brightkite • On a blog post • On Twitter • On a video-sharing site • Through your company contact form • Via a text message • With a real person in your store • At an event booth • At a local meetup or ―Tweetup‖ Source: Endagon Gen Y Hospitality Report 2009 18
  18. 18. Mass-market casual games rarely make strides in innovation, relying instead on the appeal of the familiar. Paramount is doubling down on that trend by pairing tried-and-true game forms with popular films from different eras in its new three- pack of femme-friendly PC games developed with Legacy Interactive: Pretty in Pink represents the ‘80s, Clueless the ‘90s, and millennial Mean Girls rounds out the trio. Pretty in Pink plays like a puzzle workbook with a charming level of attention to detail. Fans of the Molly Ringwald classic will appreciate how the movie‘s story is folded with gentle nostalgia around what‘s primarily an item-hunting game, one of the most popular casual gaming genres. Players must find all the objects on a list inside various cluttered, complex images that recall scenes from the movie. There are also memory-matching and spot-the-differences puzzles mixed in. Like the other two games in the pack, there‘s nothing challenging here, but the variety keeps the simplicity from going stale. In an engaging twist, collecting optional items will not only let players choose Andie‘s prom dress, but also whether she ends up with rich Blaine or poor Duckie. Source: 19
  19. 19. Previous editions of this newsletter can be found at If you wish to be added to the monthly distribution list for this newsletter, please send an e-mail to 20