Status Unconscious

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Chalk it up to inner peace. Researchers Nickles & Ashcraft, in the latest edition of their Update: Women survey, say that women are much less brand-oriented than they once were. According to "Millennium Women," this is largely due to the fact that women are more educated and have gone into the workforce in greater numbers. In others words, they don't need to buy something to give them a sense of self-worth. "For women today, status comes from within, rather than without," says Laurie Ashcraft, coauthor of the study. They're more interested in wellness, Ashcraft says, rather than in how they look. Brand-oriented types, on the other hand, tend to need reinforcement from others and are more concerned with what others think of them. Today's women just don't give a damn.

There's a trendy sub-group of Generation Xers that Yankelovich Partners calls "Friend-zied Xers." They see themselves as ambitions, daring, intelligent, fun-loving, and out-in-front of the pack. Here's how to identify them:

Demographics of Friend-zied Xers * Younger, under 25 years old, 55% vs. 45%.

* Never married, 63% vs. 52%.

* Have a college degree or more, 20% vs. 13%.

* Live in higher income households, but have similar personal income:

Median household income: $40,000 vs. $35,000.

Median personal income: $19,000 vs. $17,000.

Lifestyle Hot Buttons * Personal connections: Friends, shopping, entertaining, and playing sports.

* Appearance and health: Hedonism at the heart of things.

* Leisure time: Can't get enough.

* Information please: Socializing in a technological world, via the Internet.

* Getting the goods: Savvy shopping as an art.

How They Differ From Other Xers * On TV, they watch more cable programs, late-night entertainment, daytime soaps, movies, live sports, and talk shows.

* On radio, they listen to more rock, alternative, hip-hop/rap, and pop/Top 40.

* In print, they subscribe to more magazines, like TV Guide, Sports Illustrated, People, and Seventeen.

* In sports, they watch more football, basketball, skating, hockey, and tennis. They're more likely to run, walk, hike, and bowl.

* They shop more frequently at department stores and convenience stores.

How to Reach Their Soft Spots * Position savings and planning products around their aspirations-vacations, education, and new cars.

* Take the work out of meal-making-integrate it with movies, sports, shopping, and make it easy for groups to get together.

* Stay ahead of entertainment and media trends, know the "in" places, newest vacation spots, and best technology buys.

* Make retail environments places that combine play-time with rest-time, for excitement and relaxation.

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