Megatrends & Tourism Series #Week 7: Demographics & Population - AGE

Monitoring Trends to achieve High Performance

My mission is to help tourism professionals achieve high performance so they can build businesses and destinations that last.  To build lasting success and achieve high performance, it’s essential to have a look at what’s happening around you right now and what might be coming down the line in the future.  In this regard, Megatrend Analysis is something that’s getting a lot of attention. 

-    A Megatrend is defined as a long-term shift in behaviour or attitude with global impact across multiple industries.  

-    Megatrend Analysis is about successfully identifying, assessing and acting on megatrends.  This is essential for driving sustainable growth and remaining relevant in a rapidly changing world where new ideas continue to disrupt entire industries.

In Part 7, we’re focusing on Demographics. 

Demographics is the statistical study of population and can look at may variables e.g. age, sex, income level, education level, family size and occupations.  The tourism industry has tended to move away from using demographics as a basis of segmentation, preferring instead to look at visitor motivations and emotional drivers, which may transcend pure demographics.  Notwithstanding this, this blog looks at the specific variable of age and the changes in populations as seen through age categories into the future.  Age still plays a large part in visitor habits and can affect your marketing and communication strategies.    

Let’s consider the Seniors

The population over 65 is growing worldwide, as is our average life expectancy.  The children of the 50s and 60s are the silver generation of today.  Many are still working and have high levels of income.  Many have generous pensions and have accumulated wealth over their lives through investment of inheritance.  They’re active and healthy with a great desire to travel, particularly domestically.  They look for soft adventure to feel young and learning opportunities to feel young.  They have more money and more time than any other age segment currently and are outspending all others.  They like research and prefer digital platforms.  They like face-to-face connection on holiday and are motivated by special interest and value for money.  Some consider them to be under-regarded and under-targeted.  What can this mean for you?

-    Use Ageless Marketing techniques.  Use models 10-15 years younger than themselves as they do not consider themselves to be senior or aged. 

-    Focus on their attitude, note their age.  Only use the word ‘senior’ in relation to a discount.

-    Show single seniors in your campaigns – may are widowed, divorced or have a partner who can’t or won’t travel.  Subtly speak to single pain points.

-    Focus on the value not the price as a persuasive tool.

-    Ensure they know that face-to-face connection is part of the experience.

What about Generation Y?

These are the Millennials, the current late 20’s to late 30’s.  They’ve grown up surrounded by digital and traditional media.  They distrust mass marketing.  They are motivated by global enlightenment and making an impact.  They have travelled extensively and from a young age.  They are practically obsessed with authenticity and seek out experiences that are unique, informative and personalized.  They are always browsing and comparing photos across sites and use social media to showcase their lives.   They’ve grown up in a world that is complex, in chaos and uncertain.  What does this mean for you?

-    Use strong imagery in your communication and enable them to create strong imagery in their holiday photos.

-    Be highly ‘instagrammable’ and ensure they view your experience and your destination as ‘instagrammable’.  Build Instagram Itineraries and create Instagram hotspots.

-    Use branded hashtags that they can connect with.

-    Generate user-content and influencer-content.  Their distrust of mass marketing means they place high value on peer reviews and experiences, as well as views and endorsements of celebrities and online influencers.

-    Make it easy for them to distil the information, have it already planned out in an uncomplicated way, provide easy access to support and resources such as itineraries.

And Gen Z?

Today’s 10-year olds to those in their early 20s – the so-called Screenagers or Click’n’Go Generation.  As the names suggest, these are the Digital Natives who have spent their whole lives immersed in the digital world.  They do not distinguish online and offline. They are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers and are just now entering the world as adult spenders.  They have been prolific junior spenders of their parents money, adapting quickly to change and spending equally as quickly.  Diversity and uncertainty is normal to them and does not unsettle them – they have a dynamic lifestyle.  Family is very important to them and family structures are diverse.  They feel they live in a world that previous generations have damaged.  They are the most highly educated generation yet, the most visually literate yet verbally less so.  They want change and feel responsible for bringing it about.  They cast themselves as heroes in this regard.

What does this mean for you?

-    Embrace digital and converse with these consumers through digital.  They need instant feedback, as they stream online and expect real-time information. They will not wait for you.

-    Accentuate the visual over the verbal, adapting to their language that incorporates emojis, stickers, abbreviations and text.

-    Leverage the influence they have over the other generations in their lives, casting them as the hero in supporting their parents and grandparents.

-    Let them know about your values and also why they should care about you.

-    Engage with them and gamify your online interaction.

While much of what these 3 age categories desire is similar – think digitalization, personalization, gastronomy, local culture, authentic experience – how you speak with them may still need to be different and tailored to their age demographic.