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Talking the right talk

I wasn’t really familiar with the term “psychographics,” until my daughter, Kristin DeGraff, a consumer insight analyst at Pepsi, told me it’s good information if I want to speak the right language to the right people. I also realized it might provide valuable insights for members on our dealership sales teams. So I looked into it some more.
Psychographics is basically recognizing the attitudes, values and life events that influenced how specific segments of our population live, act and tend to see things. Knowing the psychographics of a prospect, for example, might enable a salesperson to better tailor the message. So, looking at the four major population segments — Elders, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials — could help the sales team be more relevant.

Here’s a capsule, albeit generalized, look at each:

The Elders: They actually don’t like to be called elders and definitely not seniors, so we might best think of them as the Encore Generation. Nevertheless, this group was born before 1946 and is a population segment that reportedly holds the greatest per-capita wealth. Their psychographics include that they were around for World War II, making them, perhaps, the most overtly patriotic, civic-minded, respecters of authority of all population segments. They are also the closest generation to the Great Depression which is likely why they tend to be most frugal. Thus, they respond to messages about being economical and pennywise. Unfortunately, statistically speaking, the Elders are not a significant market for boats.

The Boomers, the largest demographic in history (72 million), are the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King generation. Born between 1946-1964, Boomers grew up amid great societal change that redefined values. Their psychographics indicate they have a strong work ethic and are definitely more optimistic than their parents (the Elders).
They’re best known as the Love Generation but could easily be labeled the Me Generation because they ushered in the age of individualism, very unlike their parents. They respond to messages of independence, work reward, achievement, success and status. They have been the marine industry’s prime prospects and customers for decades and continue to be today. But the aging of the Boomers means the industry must target the next generation for future growth.

Enter the Gen Xers, best known as the MTV Generation born between 1965 and 1983. While much smaller in numbers than the Boomers, this is the generation that grew up with Arab oil embargos, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Gulf War. Their psychographics include the fact that Gen Xers are far more ethnically diverse than any previous generation. They were also latch-key kids that have valued advanced education over early marriage and family. But now they are clearly marked by a strong demand for a balanced work/lifestyle situation. They respond to messages emphasizing this work/life balance — the importance of leisure — and that’s right in boating’s wheelhouse.

Lastly, the Millennials, the first all-digital generation, often dubbed the Echo Boomers but more realistically called Generation Net. They were born between 1984-2002. They’ve grown up with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the War on Terror, economic recession and, of course, the Internet. This is the generation that created Facebook and YouTube.

Psychographically, they are very confident, challenging, cautious and suspect of motives and human nature. They’re most knowledgeable about whatever they’re interested in, mostly liberal in thought and unafraid to express their views. They will often lead the conversation, so let them lead and respond best to sales messages that offer solid facts and comparisons. They’re also the group our industry must reach if we’re to see steady growth in the long term

Four different groups that all represent a target market for marine products. But for our sales teams, it’s obviously no longer a one-sales-message fits all business.

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