retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

The Christian Science Monitor commented on something in politics recently that should make us all think about those future consumers we are always seeking and might even explain why we spend so much time talking about Amazon or Aldi here at MNB.

The Monitor noticed a powerful change in how former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is campaigning this year compared to his 2012 effort and no, it has nothing to do with his glasses. Rather it is the incredible absence of religion in his speeches. That's a marked difference since 2012.

The reason for the difference has nothing to do with Perry’s feelings toward faith. Instead it recognizes a political reality within the electorate. While faith-based voters are certainly an important bloc in Republican primaries, young voters are becoming increasingly important and their feelings are very different.

As the Monitor pointed out, younger voters aren’t simply more ambivalent about the mix of religion and politics. They are ambivalent about religion overall with many more professing to have either no belief system or no need for affiliation with a religion.

Think about that as you reflect on some other news about the younger generations. Last week Kevin wrote about the large percentage of Millennials who continue to live at home and he noted - correctly to my mind - that the cause is economic realities, rather than love of their parents.

There’s a lot of support for that thinking. Recent articles in various newspapers have cited the poor economic start for the Millennial generation, noting that they are earning less than previous generations at the same age even though a higher percentage of them have college education (and crushing student debt to go with it).

Here’s why this matters to you. We start with a generation that is far more likely to eschew all institutions than their parents or grandparents, whether it’s religion, marriage or government. So it’s hardly a leap to suggest they won’t shop like those previous generations either.

I personally love the local connections that so many retailers nourish and maintain in some cases for generations. Yet I wonder if the young generation - one that vocally pushes for local products - will feel that same connection. Or will they consider local merchants one more relic of the past and opt for on-line solutions.

Combine that with financial need this generation is already showing and we can easily expect that new forms of price-based competition are going to be a powerful force for the very near future or at least as soon as Millennials can move out of the basement.

The challenge to business is to recognize this new age wave and all the issues it is bringing. It seems a certainty that the value equation these new shoppers will demand for years to come is going to be extremely different from what we have today and we’ll all need to align with that new world.

Incredibly it may be Rick Perry who is giving us an interesting lesson in the need to reframe and rephrase our pitch to meet these new times. The politician derided for his “oops” moment four years ago might just be showing us the future.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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