Psychographics: House Husbands, Generation V

Posted on 8/5/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Stay-at-home dads and Generation V, where "V" stands for "virtual," are emerging as two important consumer groups. Both are the products of a convergence of several cultural and economic trends in Western society.

According to Corbis, the rise in the numbers of super dads follows women's rise up the corporate ladder. The latest Creative IQ report notes that women studying at colleges have begun to outnumber men, thus increasing the number of educated women entering the workforce. One-third of American women earn more than their husbands, while the share of women who acquire wealth by the traditional means of marriage or inheritance is declining in many European and some Asian countries.

Corbis estimates that there are currently about 200,000 stay-at-home dads in the U.S. Statistics point to a widespread shift in men's perceptions of traditional roles: 56% of 51 million American fathers would consider staying at home, while 80% of European dads would welcome the option. Retired and active boomer-grandfathers are further contributing to the increase of the male presence in household and child-rearing activities.

While the house-husband phenomena can be described as an increase in the importance of a previously known segment of society, Generation V is a much newer concept. While previous marketer definitions of "generations" have relied on segmenting the population by age, Generation V is characterized by psychographics alone, threatening to wreak havoc on traditional marketing approaches.

According to Stamford-based 30-year-old research company Gartner Inc., the defining quality of this emerging consumer group is that it handles relationships, business and communications primarily and preferably through electronic media. Members of Generation V are not united by age, gender, social demographics or geography. Rather, they are characterized by demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and media preference. Gartner researchers describe this as an online blending of general behavior, attitudes and interests.

Gartner has also identified four sub-divisions, defined by level of online engagement. Creators, which comprise up to 3% of Generation V, are most valuable to marketers, as they provide original online content and can become advocates for products and services. Contributors (3% to 10%) and opportunists (10% to 20%) both support online conversations without initiating them, with opportunists usually engaged in research of a specific purchasing decision.

The largest and, therefore, most economically influential group is lurkers, which comprise about 80% of Generation V. While they do not openly participate in online discussions, they reap the benefits of publicly available information and implicitly validate the Generation V community with subsequent actions.

Gartner says that marketers must remember that Generation V is not defined by technology itself. Without a particular interest in its workings, members of this group use technology to participate in a global dialogue.

Most importantly, Generation V threatens traditional marketing structures by shifting the control from the company to the consumer. Gartner defines the culture as meritocratic, collaborative, driven by sharing and groups, as opposed to individuals.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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