What is a geriatric millennial, and why should marketers care?

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    Marketing Insights

  • Date:

    August 3, 2021

What is a geriatric millennial, and why should marketers care?

Marketing Insights

Ahh, millennials. Born roughly between 1981 and 1996, they’ve both mesmerized and mystified marketers for more than a decade. Sandwiched between skeptical, logical Gen Xers and can’t-remember-a-time-without-smartphones Gen Zers, millennials don’t respond well to a one-size-fits-all approach.

So what do we do? We create micro generations, of course! But the newest label, geriatric millennials (coined by collaboration expert and keynote speaker Erica Dhawan), set the internet on fire in 2021. Suffice it to say, Dhawan, a geriatric millennial herself, provoked a lot of her peers.

Let’s get one thing straight: We don’t love the term either. (At Wray Ward, we prefer to call these elder millennials “mature.”) But Dhawan got a lot of things right about people born between 1980 and 1985. If you’re responsible for marketing in the home and building category — and you target millennials — it’s critical to understand what makes geriatric millennials and younger millennials different.

For starters, here are three factors that influence these groups’ purchasing habits:

1. They are at different stages of the homebuyer and homeowner journeys.

    Younger millennials are buying their first homes after renting for years (HIRI, 2020). They view this first home as an opportunity to express their personal style, which often drives home improvement activities within the first one to three years of homeownership (HIRI, 2020). As they purchase their first home, the desire to personalize their home leads to a higher interest in interior design, and their friends and family often look to them for advice in this area (Unity Marketing, 2020).

    Geriatric millennials with a higher household income are thinking about purchasing a second home or investment property. They are seasoned homeowners but may have only recently begun making updates that communicate their personal style. More than 40% consider themselves moderate DIYers, meaning they feel comfortable with activities such as replacing light fixtures, installing flooring or even tackling full-room remodels. Accordingly, many plan to purchase products that can support these undertakings (HIRI, 2020).

    2. Different factors influence their purchasing decisions.

      As a generation, millennials tend to be easily influenced and may make impulsive purchases. That said, they also read online reviews and search for the best deals. They are value seekers and will often purchase from discount and department stores to ensure they’re getting the fairest price (HIRI, 2020).

      But when it comes to purchasing drivers, the generalizations largely end there.

      Younger millennials tend to be spenders, not savers, though they often consult family and friends before making a purchase. They value the opinions of others. In turn, they’ll pay more for a product that helps create the image they want to convey. They’re easily swayed by influencers and celebrity endorsements, and they like having the latest technology (HIRI, 2020). When shopping in-store, they wander the aisles exploring products and use shopping as a way to relax.

      Geriatric millennials, in contrast, are savers motivated by low prices (despite pulling a higher average income). Higher earnings allow them to save more money to purchase big-ticket items for their bedroom, living room and home office (NPD, 2018). Compared to their younger counterparts, they are less swayed by the opinions of others. They’re also more willing to buy online if free shipping is available. Even if they ultimately purchase in-store, they first research pricing online in order to locate hard-to-find products and get the best deal (HIRI, 2020).

      3. They agree brands are important, but not for all the same reasons.

        Both groups pay attention to brands and enjoy connecting with companies through social media. They consider their children’s best interests when selecting products, and because they care about social causes, they’re more likely to shop brands that support causes close to their hearts (5WPR, 2021).

        But brand loyalty doesn’t exactly run deep here: In fact, many millennials will switch brands if offered a better deal or coupon code.

        Younger millennials prefer brands that embody novelty and variety. In fact, 60% of young millennials are neutral when choosing between name brands and private labels; for them, price is the most critical factor when making a purchase (Agility PR Solutions, 2019). They care about the environment but will not give up convenience to shop for environmentally friendly products. In addition, they’re largely unmotivated by deep-seated feelings of brand loyalty, meaning they’re easily influenced and swayed from past preferences. For brands, this creates an opportunity to influence a new audience to try their product.

        Geriatric millennials are more loyal to brands than younger millennials (Escalent, 2021). When shopping, they love earning points for brand loyalty and are more likely to buy from brands that offer these incentives. They are confident in what they want and desire for the brands they use to be a reflection of their values (Escalent, 2021). They are always on the lookout for deals and are especially attracted to brands that offer a chance to save money. They also care about sustainability and are more likely to purchase from brands that are environmentally conscious.

        Educated. Environmentally conscious. Family-minded. Tech-savvy. Value-minded. If you’re still condensing 72 million millennials into a single persona, they’re all apt labels.

        But until you understand millennials as much for their differences as their similarities, you won’t fully realize the potential of the United States’s largest generation. Though just the tip of a massive iceberg, these fundamentals can help you connect with geriatric millennials and younger millennials now and in the future.

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