How will the transition to a younger demographic re-shape the buying conversation for your business? Who are Generations X and Y, and what do they care about? These are questions ag marketers will be asking themselves in the years ahead as Baby Boomers exit the business and two distinct, new generations of farmers begin to make their presence felt.
While there is no universally agreed upon time frame, the term Generation X generally includes people born in the latter half of the 1960s through the late-1970s. Gen Xers are characterized by independence, resilience and adaptability. They feel strongly that, “I don’t need someone looking over my shoulder.” According to Emily Brooks at the Local Food and Agribusiness Blog, Gen Xers are regarded as technologically “bilingual.” They do not always respond to internet marketing efforts, and often straddle the divide between traditional and new media platforms. This generation is the most “split” of generational groups – some being tech savvy, and others lagging far behind even the Boomers.
Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), describes the demographic group following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation begins and ends, and experts have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the late-1970s to the mid 1990s. Brooks reports that Gen Y goes right to the internet, and they are a very fickle group to effectively reach because they are continuously bombarded with savvy electronic marketing. She says this group will purchase products with a “social conscience.”
Author Tammy Erickson uses the example of army recruitment advertising when discussing how to market to Generation X. She says the appeal for “Traditionalists,” those who are over 65, was the “I Want You” approach aligned with their respect for institutions and desire to belong. For Boomers, it was the aspirational, “Be All You Can Be.” For Gen X, it’s an “Army of One” with its message of independence and self-reliance.
Land prices and the availability of land to rent or purchase will certainly be one of the most important factors influencing how and when the baton is passed from the Baby Boomers to the generations born beginning in the mid-1960s. Will the coming generations have the same relationship with established agricultural brands? What will be their affinity to credit? How will they use information technology to make buying decisions and connect with other growers? The only things we know for certain are that a changing of the guard is coming and understanding why younger producers buy will be critical to successfully engaging them. What do you think? Join the conversation.