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Understanding Millennials: How to Reach the Generation That Now Represents The Majority of the Snow Sports Market


July 29, 2014

Lately it seems to be all about the Millennials. Everywhere we look, articles, ads and studies are giving insights into how to reach the generation known as “Gen Y,” or Millennials, and throwing around labels like ‘short attention span’ and ‘entitled.’ But asSIA Research Director Kelly Davis points out in SIA’s GenY Report, “18-35 year olds represent the largest segment of the snow sports market. In order to grow, or even maintain participation levels in snow sports, Gen Y must be engaged. And it’s important for us to understand that increasingly in snow sports, they are us.”

Because this generation now represents our majority, clearly it’s time to dig past the labels and delve into the facts and research. We need to understand why people born between the years of 1985-2000 think differently and buy differently, and this article will be the first in a series looking at ways that snow sports brands can learn how to engage with this important demographic.

millenials_dorsey_072214First, to get a big picture perspective on Millennials and what’s so important about them, we spoke with Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics. Dorsey is commonly known as “The Gen Y Guy,” and has been featured on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show, and The View, and his client list includes Mercedes-Benz, Four Seasons Hotels, SAS and VISA.

When we asked Dorsey why Millennials have become such a focus, he explained, “Millennials and Gen Y are suddenly important because retailers, brands, employers and even politicians have realized we’re a demographic tsunami. We’re now the fastest growing demographic of consumers and employees. We also have the least established brand or store loyalty, are the most connected generation ever, have tremendous pent-up purchasing demand and, frankly, we buy differently than any previous generation. This is a huge challenge and a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

So what are the consequences if manufacturers and retailers don’t learn to communicate with this generation? Dorsey said, “Going out of business. Seriously. And it’s not just because there are 79.8 million Millennials in the U.S. With over a trillion in spending power. It’s that Millennials are likely to outspend Baby Boomers by 2017 and then the spending diverges as Millennials become more affluent and enter different life stages. Even more concerning for brands – every other generation is starting to communicate, shop and buy like us. Almost all of our consulting clients want us to help them solve the digital and retail sale riddle, because what worked five years ago is not working now. Even worse, what worked five years ago is increasingly not working with other generations either.”

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