The Future is Now

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Hispanic minors are poised to overtake African Americans as the largest ethnic youth population in the country by 2005.

Call it Marketing: The Next Generation. In this month's issue of American Demographics, Associate Editor Rebecca Gardyn pulls double duty to give us a glimpse into two vital and up-and-coming demographic groups for marketers. In her cover story, “Granddaughters of Feminism,� Gardyn introduces us to the women of tomorrow: the 35 million strong Gen Y girls who will transform the way marketers speak to women — just the way their Boomer mothers did decades ago. Among the factors that have shaped their world: Today, 56 percent of young women between the ages of 13 and 20 have mothers who worked full-time outside the home during their childhood, and like them, 57 percent expect to have both a full-time career and a family themselves. They are the first full generation to take women's equality for granted, and as such, will pose new challenges for marketers. “Unlike their ’70s feminist ancestors, who believed that ‘acting like a girl’ was asking to be treated as such, the bulk of today's young women do not feel any disconnect between being a feminist and being feminine,� Gardyn writes.

In her other feature, “Habla English?� Gardyn introduces us to a demographic that gives new meaning to the phrase, “Minority Majority.� America's ethnic minorities are still on track to outstrip non-Hispanic whites as the majority sometime between 2055 and 2060. In fact, in some states, such as California, this is already the case. But Gardyn adds a twist to the “Minority Majority� story. She shows how Hispanic minors are poised to overtake African Americans as the largest ethnic youth population in the country. This youth segment, which represents 35 percent of all U.S. Hispanics today, will account for 44 percent of all minority minors by 2005. But targeting these kids will not be easy. Unlike their parents who consume mostly Spanish-language media, these youngsters will keep marketers guessing as to which media and messages will work for them. In both her pieces, Gardyn highlights the fundamental differences of these “new� generation of consumers. Both are using their past to move forward.

Yet, tomorrow's youth isn't the only target group that has marketers perplexed. In “The Rising Tide,� contributor Hassan Fattah spotlights America's lower middle class, a population that comprises one-sixth of the country's population, but is virtually ignored by business. Fattah dispels some of the stereotypes and myths that accompany this group. A rising tide of Americans, they will become yet another rising force for marketers.

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