PROFILE: YOUNG ADULTS

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Many media portrayals of "Generation Xers" depict these individuals as being apathetic, image-conscious and indifferent. Here are relevant data and notes on young adults.

Numbers

There are 46 million people between the ages of 18 and 29. In 1992, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the aggregate income of households headed by individuals aged 15 to 34 totaled $826 billion.

Psychographics

Most young adults feel they don't belong to a specific demographic group. According to a study conducted last year by consumer research company Roper Starch Worldwide, only about 3% of those between 18 and 29 say they belong to Generation X. Instead, the researcher concluded, young adults perceive themselves as individuals who are defined by their interests and accomplishments. These findings contradict the belief that the stereotype "slacker" is ubiquitous.

In addition, some media portrayals have cast this group as feeling disenfranchised and nihilistic. The truth is that they generally are more optimistic than their elders about their personal prospects and are as cynical as others about the nation's prospects.

Selling to them

With young adults viewing themselves more so as individuals than as representatives of a generation, it's important to show how a product fits into their lifestyles. On a similar note, image and prestige are less important than value.

Also, be honest with twentysomethings. They've been raised on TV and can spot a false sales pitch from miles away. That applies to sales negotiations-and may be one reason why General Motors Corp.'s Saturn, with its no-haggling sales pitch, is popular with this demographic.

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