Millennials Are Popular, But Older Adults Spend the Most Money

30 Dec Millennials Are Popular, But Older Adults Spend the Most Money

Today in Things That Make Sense But Aren’t Clickbaity Enough, we bring you some cold, hard, boring facts from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey: Adults over 50 make up the majority of consumer spending (51 percent) in the United States, make up 57 percent of spending on big-ticket items like cars and control 70 percent of American wealth.

In other words, these are the people upon which advertisers should be focusing their attention.

It must be a bitter pill for Millennials, who for about the last 15 years have been the subject of endless fascination by the news media and by advertisers, but we’re guessing most Millennials have noticed that it is their parents, not they, who seem to have more money to spend, and more wealth accumulated.

Nothing about these findings is surprising, per se. For a variety of reasons, Americans place a high value on youth, and besides, any forward-looking business is going to be looking for the next thing, not riding out the gravy train. Marketing to Millennials is understandable and important, but it is only part of a larger picture.

In 2015, a 50-year-old American will be expected to live almost 30 more years, and remain working for about 15 of those years. This 50-plus demographic, which includes both Baby Boomers and members of Generation X, holds a lot of wealth. According to Accenture, the Baby Boomers will transfer $30 trillion — yeah, trillion — to their heirs before the generation passes to the Great Beyond.

Eventually, that wealth will wind up in the hands of Millennials in the form of real estate, savings bonds, cash, and partially restored muscle cars. But for now, the people who have it are eyeballing retirement, they’re paying off their mortgages, they’re increasing the font size on their smartphones, they’re buying cars with comfortable rides and automatic transmissions, and they’re buying tickets to Steve Miller Band concerts.

There has been such a push to understand the tastes and behaviors of Millennials that the people with all the money to spend have been, to some extent, ignored. Not all products are aimed at all people, of course, but if you’re trying to sell everyday items like coffee or office supplies, and especially if you’re trying to sell big-ticket items like cars or furniture, you’d do well to come up with advertising the 50-plus crowd can relate to.

It might not make for clickable headlines, but it sure does make money.