- Kirsten Ballard
Coming off one of the most polarized elections in US history, it’s a good idea for publishers to take a clear look at who their readers are. The generational and demographic makeup of the country today looks entirely different than in 1965.
At mediaXchange 2017, Encore.org senior fellow Paul Taylor talked about the change of tides going on this year.
“We’re at a moment in our history where young adults don’t look alike, think alike or vote alike,” he said. “They don’t consume news in the same ways (we’re used to).”
This change in the makeup of America has put stress on social cohesion. It was a year of identity politics and tribes versus tribes.
Instead of consuming fair and balanced news, many voters read what they wanted to hear. “It’s shouting into echo chambers and [their] views are reaffirmed,” Taylor said. There is no more middle ground.
Ongoing conflict with the administration isn’t helping. President Trump slated the media as the enemy of the American people. Taylor admits it was a pretty good punching bag. He referenced the “Trump bump” in readership and viewership, but compared it to a sugar high and warned a crash was coming.
“The public does not like the contentiousness, it’s not healthy and it keeps them from getting the information they need,” he said.
He looked back across these recent changes, citing a commercial for Cheerios General Mills ran a few years ago challenging the idea of the traditional single-race nuclear family. The backlash was so extreme that General Mills apologized and pulled the commercial from circulation.
Flash-forward to this year, where every brand unleashed an edgy, socially-conscious commercial targeting a more thoughtful audience. Families look different, and a younger audience is very accepting of that.
“Diversity is now baked into the cake,” he said. From 2010 to 2020, there is going to be 74 percent growth in the labor force by Hispanics. “Who will we be by 2060?” Taylor posed. “What will we call the children of interracial marriages? We don’t have established language to deal with it yet.”
Currently, the median age by race has whites at 42 years old, Asians at 36 and those who identify as mixed-race at 20 years old.
He focused on millennials, the new buying power of the market. This group is marrying later and living at home. Though they have little money in the bank, they’re optimistic about their financial future. This is considered the “selfie” generation and loves personalized products.
“This much change is very bumpy,” Taylor said. It is important for publishers to learn the traits of each age group and adapt.