Cross Selling Generations


Young adults now in the workforce, voting in elections and establishing families are part of the “Echo” generation. They are the children and grandchildren of the baby boomer generation and they are making their presence known in the economy.

Baby boomers, caught between working to support a family and caring for their aging parents, now have grown children taking a different view of family, work and their participation in society. While some 77 million were born in the ‘80s and ’90s, the biggest difference between them and their parents may be technology. With the advent of social networking, Facebook, LinkedIn, wireless web access and online video on their cell phone, the constraints of a physical home, community and town has greatly changed.

Today, 18- to 30-year-olds are more conservative with their money, and a larger number are now living back at home than ever before. For many this has affected their sense of security and optimism. The lessons from their grandparents are coming back to support their ideology: save, get value for your money, plan for the future, expect some hardships and give yourself time to overcome. They have tended not to live on debt like their parents did by using credit cards and equity loans on their home, if they own one. Cash advances, title loans, loyalty programs are more the norm now than it seems ever before. Recent Pew Research studies found that a third get financial support from families and only four in 10 work full-time jobs.

Now there is talk in the news about the legal requirement to own health insurance (like car insurance, not saying I agree), health-care exchanges where you will go to get your health insurance (with subsidies), the potential for Medicare and Social Security to either not be around for their retirement years or greatly changed and a $17 trillion federal debt, indicating a financial future for the country that has the potential for their children to be born with a $52,931.67 share of this debt before they have their first meal.

Opportunity for an advisor

So how does this offer opportunity for an advisor? We have to learn how to be engaged in generational marketing. We have to be able to break the different markets down, understand the dominant buying motives, look for predictable buying behaviors and understand how people spend their money on lifestyle issues.

So let’s break the markets down to bite-size portions. Remember, you’re not going to learn all markets, serve all markets or have products for all markets. However, given the economy and the changing society, you might want an advisor network you can work with/refer to so you are seen as the “gateway” for all your client’s needs.

This is also a market that has predictable buying behaviors. Behaviors we know the individual will engage in as they progress through this last stage of their life. Almost without question individuals who retire will do three things:

  1. Sign up for Social Security.
  2. Automatically be enrolled in Medicare ‑ or if they are going to continue working they will have to opt out of Medicare Part B.
  3. A large percentage will purchase a Medicare Supplement, and many of the remaining will purchase a Medicare Advantage.

Their oldest child could be in their early to mid-40s, they will be running their own business or working for a company, raising a family and looking toward their children going to college. They may be looking down the road at retirement; however, at this point in their lives retirement is exactly that, down the road.

Their oldest child could be 18 to 25, they could just be getting out of college or getting married maybe even starting their own family.

Each group has particular dominant buying motives and predictable buying behaviors. We know the type of things they will be budgeting their money for throughout each of these lifestyle events. As professionals the question is, how should we prepared to help advise them at the time when they will be making these buying decisions?

So when you look at these different generations, the varied yet similar lifestyle issues and the products they will be purchasing, how does your marketing plan fit in? Do you have a basic understanding of these predictable buying behaviors? Do you have a network of advisors who can help you meet the changing needs of your client’s needs? In the business we call this “owing the community.” What percent of ownership do you have in your client “community”?


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