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Mar 7, 2017

The Millennial Myth

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From foodservice to fashion, it seems that all retailers these days are looking to attract the elusive Millennial. If you work in the industry, chances are you hear the term used at least a handful of times per day. But are Millennials the be-all and end-all of retail success?

In Canada’s sports apparel and footwear market the answer seems to be no. While the Millennial consumer is certainly important to sports apparel and footwear brands, we have actually seen their interest in the segment decline over the last year. What’s even more interesting is that despite this lagging Millennial demand, the market still continues to grow. In fact, in 2016 sales in the space outpaced the casual/fashion segment for the third consecutive year.

Interestingly, despite their reduced interest in the segment, Millennials continue to garner the attention of marketers. However, it is Gen X (i.e. those ranging in age from 35- 45) who seem to be increasing their spending habits (buying not only for themselves, but also for their Gen Z children).

Alone Gen X and Gen Z are two of the smaller portions of the population accounting for 16 per cent and 19 per cent of the population respectively. That said, marketers seem to dismiss this demographic when crafting advertising and marketing strategies.

I would argue that this is a missed opportunity.

When we look at Canada’s sports apparel and footwear market, the spend by Gen X grew a whopping +12 per cent year-over-year in 2016. That spend was split 60/30 (some have Millennial children) between themselves and their Gen Z children. They significantly over spend their proportion to the population accounting for half of the active spend and driving 75 per cent of the growth in the market…yet no one is really paying attention!

And while Millennials will likely continue to be the focus of a wide range of marketing tactics in the near future, it’s worth considering the fact that they tend to embrace specific brands and convenience while Gen X tends to focus on performance channels to outfit themselves and their families.

So before you sign off on your brand’s next marketing campaign, consider who you are targeting – the answer, at least in the sports apparel and footwear market, may surprise you.



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