LONDON: The marketing industry has a "blindspot" when it comes to younger consumers as it continues to associate the youth lifestyle with Millennials when it should actually be focused on Centennials, according to a leading industry figure.

In a Warc Best Practice paper – How to market effectively to Centennials – Mark Inskip, Global CEO of The Futures Company, suggests that the era of Millennial youth marketing is over as the oldest of this group are now in their mid-30s.

Centennials – aged from 0 to 19 – are not just an evolution of the Millennials who came before, he points out: "they're a new generation with attitudes, priorities and consumer behaviours all of their own".

And they're a "critical and influential generation"; they make up around one third of the global population and one quarter of consumers in the UK and the US. In the latter they have a weekly spending power of more than $80bn.

Inskip focuses on the older end of the age range and observes that although they're willing and able to spend, "Centennials are not the consumption-positive shoppers that Millennials were as teens".

That's because they've grown up in the years following the global financial crash of 2008 and are more savvy then their elders, being neither profligate spenders nor easy targets.

Coming of age during challenging times has given them a degree of resilience and an understanding that hard work and grit will be needed to overcome the inevitable roadblocks they face.

They also have grounded, realistic expectations for themselves and the way the world works, while at the same time being open to the differences that a pluralistic, polycultural society throws up.

These core values of openness, resilience and realism sound like everything marketing is not, says Inskip. "Brands need to get more in touch with reality."

That means, for example, not pandering to stereotypes or pursuing improbable aspirational themes, but rather empowering this demographic via intuitive customer experiences and information that helps them live their lives better.

Empowerment will also require brands to relinquish control to a degree some may find uncomfortable.

But those prepared to do so and to work with Centennials to drive strategies or tactics "are likely to gain ground over those that fiercely defend their boundaries, which risk being taken out of the equation altogether".

Data sourced from Warc