Monday, July 28, 2008

A New Baby Boom Churning?

It was on ABC World News last Wednesday night.

In 2007, a record number of babies were born in the USA that some demographers say could signal an impending baby “boomlet.”


Back in January, an AP release came out from the CDC in Atlanta titled “Against the Trend, US Births Way Up.”

4.290 million babies were born in the US in 2006. 4.315 million babies were born in the US in 2007.


The story on ABC World News featured film clips of Anglo and African-American Gen X families riding in SUVs through subdivision America. They also interviewed a nice middle-class Anglo couple that just gave birth to a little girl the night before.

In the AP CDC release, the 2006 level was cited as the highest since 1961…the tail-end of the Baby Boom surge. In the ABC World News report, the 2007 level was cited as the highest since 1957, one of the peak years of Baby Boom deliveries.

So…is the Gen X couple that clings to their cocoon and feels overlooked by many really producing this many babies?

We noted in a Blog this past fall that a Newsweek article reported that Gen X couples are the least sexually active generation when compared to Millenniums, Boomers and Matures. Maybe Gen X couples really only have sex to pro-create and they use their self-taught tech mindsets to chart out just when the field is most fertile and productive.

The in-town Atlanta development where I live has become over-run with Gen X couples in the last several years. After the ABC newscast, I took my puppy for a walk through the neighborhood. Sure enough…I noticed that a number of the GenXers had more than one stroller on their front porch.

Then I thought, maybe it’s the result of the economy. The original Baby Boom was fostered by the troops returning home from WWII. Maybe the GenXers getting laid-off in the last several years have decided to procreate to occupy their time spent being contained in the home.

Here are a couple observations from our perspective.

Nowhere in the ABC World News story did the newscaster mention that the birth rate among Anglos remains stable and the birth rate among African-Americans has actually declined.

USA Today also ran an article about the high US birth rate. It quoted “federal demographer” Stephanie Ventura who said: “I can’t tell you anything about who’s having these babies, but it is an early look and there is an increase.”

Stephanie, are you related to the governor of Minnesota?

Here are some facts that your comrades at the US Census Bureau have released. Maybe you should go have lunch with them.

According to the US Census Bureau, the average size of an Anglo US household in 2007 was 2.4 individuals. The average size of an African-American US household in 2007 was 2.7 individuals.

Now Hispanics are a different story!

The average size of a Hispanic US household in 2007 was 3.6 individuals and 62% of all Hispanic households have a child less than 18 years old still at home.

Also according the US Census Bureau, 24.7 years old is the median age of US Hispanics compared to 36.4 years old for the US population as a whole.

Family bonding and family building are icons of Hispanic culture.

In fact, the CDC noted in its article that Hispanics as a group in the US have fertility rates 40% higher than the US overall.

Hispanics represent the largest minority group in the US.

Generation ZOOM is jelling right now as we speak.

Generation ZOOM is made up of the kids born after 2000 and right now are age 0-8. There are 40 million of them out there coast-to-coast in the US this year.

The generational span is projected to end in 2012 and is expected to exceed the 52 million GenXers in terms of their population count.

Make no mistake about it… Hispanics are driving a significant share of the growth and while this generation is not likely to exceed the size of the Boomers or Millenniums, they will exceed every generation they follow in terms of their impact on our society, marketplace, technology and politics.

And Hispanics are going to play a significant role in the generational impact!

There are 78 million Baby Boomers and 71 million Millenniums.

There are only 52 million GenXers who are now age 32 – 43 years of age.

Many of the press editors are in their 30s and early 40s. This is true across the broadcast as well as print media. Yes…most of the news announcers are Boomers…even Katie Couric was born right in the midst of that 1957 baby making surge!... but the guys and gals that are writing the stories and deciding what gets broadcast and printed are mostly GenXers.

The 2007 Yankelovich Monitors reports that many GenXers believe that both business and government are passing them by and moving alignment with the Boomers directly to alignment with the Millenniums.

Last week I wrote about the message being the medium and the medium being the message. These GenXers seemed hooked on labeling the kids they are birthing as the “next Baby Boom.”

Hey GenXers…don’t look behind you, but the Millennium Boom is emerging as the hot marketing target NOW!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Quest For A Down-to-Earth, Simplistic Lifestyle

Last night I caught the latest of the 2X TIDE detergent commercials.

It’s part of a new series of TIDE commercials that are kind of campy. You can check it out at

It features the Generation X talk-show host Kelly Ripa.

The spot aired on a special series of HGTV’s House Hunters show featuring GenXers and their next “move-up” home purchases.

That airing of the TIDE spot is a fabulous demonstration of “the media is the message and the message is the media” where the brand and its message marry with the content and perspective of the media and programming.

P&G has a great set of brands that are selling through the current “gloom and doom” economic times that the media portrays in their headlines and editorials.

Despite all the dismal newscasts and forecasts of the American middle class, I really think that we are seeing the impact of a bigger trend right now than simple economics.

GenXers are truly in the depths of family cultural cocooning in which maintaining the home and saving dollars to send the kids to college are both top priority.

Boomers are re-cocooning too, and true to their culture, many are placing far more value on the sustainability of the green-scape and their local hamlets than cashing in on retirement and moving off-stage.

That BIG GLOBAL group headquartered up in New York called the United Nations dedicated a lot of time in defining what they call “Sustainable Development” – development that is driven by the “three pillars” of social, environmental and economic change.

Of course with most anything that takes place at the United Nations, a couple of groups have been challenging the consensus reached claiming that there are actually four pillars of “Sustainable Development” with the fourth being cultural development.

I actually agree.

If any of you have Gen X friends and you hang in their house for a few hours, you will quickly see how TIDE has been able to tap right into the culture of the Gen X household.

As a Baby Boomer with Millennium friends, we all concur that GenXers are kind of campy in how they live behind that front door.

Whether it’s clustering in the home or the local community, the cultural icons of a more “down-to-earth, simplistic lifestyle” are quickly coming back in vogue.

Do-It-Yourself is more culturally cool that hiring others or spending the extra bucks to purchase the product already assembled. Cooking at home is back and the kitchen table is a place where neighbors are connecting more than at Starbucks.

There are some great cultural Icons headquartered right here in our own backyard that can tap right into the times!
• Holiday Inns – The Icon of the budget-conscious family weekend trip
• Coca-Cola – How more Americana can you get?
• Home Depot – Hey Wal*Mart capitalized on Target’s brand line… be the “Helpful Hardware Man” in an orange apron and you can be an Icon too!
• Little Debbie Snack Cakes – Kind of retro, campy cool… and if you play off “Little” you can own lo-cal too!
• Six Flags, The Choo Choo, Callaway Gardens, Ruby Falls and Stone Mountain – Also kind of campy cool and accessible on just one tank of gas!
• Krystal – The “real TV / YouTube” tailgating spots are great!
• Bush Beans – Southern = Sustainability and beans are great budget side dish alternatives…maybe even the new “hamburger helper”?
• Shaw and Mohawk flooring – Recycled carpet squares are a Ready-Made Magazine showcase project!
• Popeyes, Mrs. Winners, Zaxby’s and Arby’s – The Icons of Fried Chicken and Roast Beef are back in and high-priced Sushi is out!

If you listen to the media and the survey numbers they report, you’d think we were in the 21st century version of the Great Depression.

Seeing the glass as always half full is what drives business success. At BrandVenture, what we see is called OPPORTUNITY!

Hey… in that TIDE spot, Kelly Ripa brings everyone around the washing machine to see just how clean, clean can be.

BrandVenture is going to head out in a couple of weeks with our Video camera and talk to folks about this new “down-to-earth, simplistic lifestyle” and we invite you all to be part of it and see just how opportune, opportunity can be!

Call us… and come journey!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Inspiration of a Revolution!

Spending the 4th of July weekend at my mountain cabin was a blast of a good time. We did everything including fishing, grilling out, picnics, campfires, puzzles, playing cards, reading books and sometimes just doing nothing.

Being an owner of a second home log cabin is fun.

My cabin isn’t very big. The main cabin is about 800 square feet and the guest cabin is about 350 square feet. It has about as much square footage in porches and decks as it does inside space.

My home in the city is three stories tall with close to 800 square feet on each of three levels.

Every day, I count my blessings that I don’t have lawn at either home. It’s delightful not having to cut grass.

Last fall in one of the Blogs, I wrote about the next boom in housing. Some of our clients thought that I was crazy when I wrote it.

Course most of those offering me commentary are all Baby Boomers.

I keep telling clients that the line, “build it and they will come”…is dead.

The Baby Boomers really fueled the housing boom of the 80s and the 90s. Most of the builders out there are Baby Boomers. How does that line read…”Birds of a feather…”

They are the ones that added such wonderful features to the house like the “family room,” the “study,” the “morning coffee room,” the “play room,” the “flexible fourth bedroom” and the “bonus room” over the garage.

In 1950, the size of the average single-family house in the US was 1,000 square feet. Today, the average single-family house is 2,400 square feet. That’s 140% larger!

The average US single-family house of 2,400 square feet compares to the average home in Canada with 1,800 square feet, the average home in Japan with 1,000 square feet and the average home in Britain of 815 square feet.

Those Brits are famous for the “cottage” style of living!

The lead article in this month's Fast Company Magazine is titled “The Eco-Home of Tomorrow.” I really don't care what your company makes or what service it provides, you need to read this article. It's all about what is going to be the next wave of housing.

It features two cool guys…one that is age 36 and the other age 35…who are “retooling” their thinking and developing carbon neutral homes and methods of construction.

The article also features Steve Glenn who was the former Chairman and CEO of PeopleLink, the leading provider of enterprise e-community solutions software and services to clients like Oracle, GE, MTV, Paramount, Reuters and CBS.

Steve just started a new company called LivingHomes Business System that is pioneering another wave of modular housing that is eco-green and energy efficient. All of the modular homes meet LEED silver standards.

There are several other “Innovators and Inventors” featured in the Fast Company article…all of whom are jumping into the housing market and leading the wave of the next economic boom.

To save money, I got rid of my housekeeper. I am now cleaning both my home in the city and the cabin in the mountains. In some ways, it’s kind of like working out at a home gym.

After cleaning both over this past weekend, I have to say that downsizing to a similar square footage as the cabin is something that I am really seriously toying around with in my future planning.

As one of the featured quotes in the Fast Company article notes…”If we can un-name the rooms…we can give you more opportunity in less space.”

I agree.

There are a lot of companies out there are clinging on to the past model of housing as forward-thinking entrepreneurs, architects and developers are already envisioning the post-bust cycle of housing where smaller is better.

This past May, the bulk of the Millennium Generation that is just shy of the Baby Boomers in size got their college diplomas and headed out into the work force.

The demand for housing is coming and coming on fast. To meet it, we must ask…”How do you inspire a revolution?”