Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Generation Y Dumping Obama?

Column Quick Summary:
  • Gallup shows that Obama is losing support among Echo Boomers.
  • Timing may have helped Obama in 2008.
  • Republicans have yet to offer a candidate that Echo Boomers will like.

I've written that I think Obama will win the Millennial generation easily (see Generation Y and the 2012 Election), yet one blogger argues the other way. The writer calls attention to a recent Gallup poll where Obama's support among those under 30 has decreased below 50%.

One argument the blogger makes is an excellent point: Obama had excellent timing on his side, and an advantage he may lack in 2012. Echo Boomers hated the wars of Bush and tend to favor isolationist policies, and Obama campaigned on this promise to bring the troops home (one that hasn't worked like the Millennial generation expected). Yet, many Americans were fed up with Republicans, so many Democrats could have pulled off a win over McCain.

Regardless, I fail to see a Republican candidate who will earn Millennial votes. Although there's a lot of talk about a Republican victory, none of the Republicans have excited Echo Boomers in the manner that Obama did in 2008. If Echo Boomers don't support Obama, that doesn't automatically mean they'll support the Republican candidate. They may just avoid voting in 2012.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Obama To "Help" In Higher Education

He promises Echo Boomers and other students that education will become cheaper. Yet what does the columnist think?

Alas, the president's prescription for making higher education affordable seems likely to yield the same results as his plan for curbing health care costs - that is, it is likely to drive prices higher than inflation.
Oh stop it, you, Ms. Cynical. (I actually agree with her). Yet, think about the larger picture here: why is Obama stating this now? 2012 elections. Obama is already trying to harvest Millennial votes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"What Is the Future of Spirituality For Generation Y?"

Each Friday, The Echo Boom Bomb will feature a common question among Echo Boomers and/or their parents concerning economics or finance for the Millennial generation. These questions are often asked by Echo Boomers and/or their parents that I survey or can be directed to my email at echoboombomb [at] gmail [dot] com. If you email a question, please be sure to keep it concise and direct.

Column Quick Summary:
  • Spirituality is an ambiguous term.
  • Observation: people attend church to meet a personal need.
  • Secular institutions now have ways to meet these needs.

Question: What will replace the spiritual void for Echo Boomers who leave religious organizations?

Two things: (1) I'm not exactly sure what a spiritual void is and (2) I'm not sure if, a spiritual void exists, Echo Boomers feel a spiritual void.

I wrote Generation Y To Church: "Bye" as a message that Echo Boomers have found other ways to meet needs in their life outside of church. From what I can gather, based solely on observation (a fallacy in logic), most people attend religious organizations to meet some need in their life - the need for hope, the need for social interaction, the need for growth, et cetera. However, many of these needs can be met by other, secular institutions, which is why we may be seeing a decline of church attendance among Echo Boomers.

I'm not asserting that religion will die (it won't), but that competition had entered the market in offering people hope, social interaction, and other things people have historically seen church as providing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Generation Y Renters Want A Lot

Column Quick Summary:
  • Echo Boomers lack the financial power to buy homes.
  • Echo Boomers expect a lot of amenities from their rental units.
  • If you don't meet their needs, Echo Boomers will find other places to go.

A brief article warns landlords that the Millennial generation still expects a lot of amenities from their rental units. Even though Generation Y lacks the financial power to buy homes, they hold high expectations from their rental units and will quickly move if these aren't met.

Pertinent Anecdote (fallacy warning):

When I first moved to DFW, the place I rented in the beginning was not satisfactory. Regardless of the cheap price, I disliked multiple things about the housing, and sought out other places. I ended up finding a better place, partially because I know that the market favors renters and I have a strong ability to negotiate. In a sense, my "entitlement" complex led me to a better situation, though actual work was still required to get there.

See two other posts on this topic: Oph Topik: Discovery and Growth In A New City and "How Do You Approach Finances".

But even with the lack of financial power, Echo Boomers still expect landlords to provide them with amenities they like. The article lists things like a nice gym, walk-in closets and granite countertops. In general, hardwood floors and granite countertops are becoming two things expected by renters; if your units don't have these, you might find trouble in renting them out to the Millennial generation.

Of course, landlords always have the option of ignoring their constituents' wants, but with Echo Boomers, they'll find other places to move if the place is unsatisfactory. Given the social attributes among Echo Boomers and their sagacity with technology, it's never been easier to find new places to live that offer the amenities you're looking for. In other words, meet their wants and you'll have plenty of Echo Boomers as your customers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 Financial Tips Generation Y Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Column Quick Summary:
  • Know your priorities.
  • Overcome the fear of failure.
  • Keep trying even after you fail.
  • Find that different perspective.
  • Know when to quit.

1. Know your priorities. Steve Jobs met his wife when he had a business meeting one evening, but decided that having dinner with her would be more important than attending a business meeting. Jobs had two clear paths, and his knowledge of what he wanted in that moment helped him pursue what was important to him. Most financial mistakes that people make come when people don't know what they want. Scrap following the crowd and ask yourself what is it that you want out of life. Pursue only that with all your financial energy.

2. Overcome the fear of failure. Going along with the above story, every course of action has some fear because it's new. A repetitious business meeting is easy because you do it all the time in the same way that saving only 10% of your money is easy because it's not that much, and you've already mastered that. But what about saving 20% of your money? You'll have a slight fear that you can't do it because it's too high of a goal, but that fear is keeping you from action and action leads to success.

3. Keep trying even after you fail. It might surprise you to learn that Steve Jobs left Apple when they tried to limit him in 1985, but Jobs never gave up and started NeXT computers, which was later purchased by Apple in 1997. After what happened in 1985, Jobs could have called it quits (he had enough wealth), but he continued to pursue his passion. Likewise, every financial goal will carry some failure along the way - it's part of growth. But even when you have setbacks, continue working toward your goal. You'll get there with perseverance.

4. Find that different perspective. Steve Jobs used LSD, which is a controversial drug. Yet Jobs claimed that LSD was one of the most important things that he had done in life, and others asserted that part of his creativity may have come from an acid experience. The key here is not in doing drugs, but in obtaining a perspective that expands your mind. Sometimes goals seem impossible because the mind has constructed walls that don't exist in reality, but something people believe. Find that perspective that tears down the walls, and watch out.

5. Know when to quit. When Steve Jobs retired, people knew something was wrong. So did Jobs. He knew when it was his time, and he retired. Likewise, it's not enough to know your goals, but when you've met those goals and the end has come. Whether it's retirement, a new direction in life, or a special opportunity, know when your time to stop what you're doing comes. Then stop and continue living in that new way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Generation Y Doubts Social Security

Column Quick Summary:
  • Half of Echo Boomers doubt social security will exist in the future.
  • Most Echo Boomers aren't saving enough money either.
  • Echo Boomers' negative views on social security seems to lack effect on their financial behavior.
  • Expect more promises from politicians and financial experts.

An article highlights Millennial doubts concerning social security. I've already written that Generation Y won't receive social security despite vain promises from politicians on both sides. Echo Boomers seem to understand this now: half of them do not expect to receive social security.

Of course, one might expect that this doubt would cause Echo Boomers to start saving money, but in fact, the article also highlights the lack of savings among the Millennial generation. Recall also that 90% of the Millennial generation have fewer than $2,000 in savings. So while Echo Boomers recognize that their future is growing dimmer, they are failing to act on making it better.

I would expect politicians and financial experts to make promises about social security, or express meaningless hope that it will continue to exist. Multiple people from the Baby Boom generation have stated that they were told that social security wouldn't be around when they were young, yet these individuals fail to consider the historical context of such statements (for instance, see "World War II Ended the Great Depression!"). The United States lacks the financial dominance and uncontested competition it had post World War II, so I wouldn't expect the country to grow like it did then.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Will Generation Y Create A New Political Party?

WARNING: The following video contains explicit language.

I saw this video here. You can see the influence of Echo Boomers in politics because this individual, who is a part of Occupy Wall Street, is promoting a mixture of political views. However, the media seem to think that Occupy Wall Street is a left movement.

What you're seeing among the Millennial generation is an entirely new political view developing: I'm not sure what I could call it for now, but it seems to be pro-isolationist, anti-corporation and anti-government cooperation with corporations. In the past, I've been wrong for dismissing many Echo Boomers as socialists or left-leaning; the more I study them, the more they seem to be abandoning traditional politics altogether and developing their own views on things.

Further reading on Echo Boomers and politics: Echo Boomers and their views and How do Echo Boomers think?

"When Is the Best Time To Contact Generation Y?"

Each Friday, The Echo Boom Bomb will feature a common question among Echo Boomers and/or their parents concerning economics or finance for the Millennial generation. These questions are often asked by Echo Boomers and/or their parents that I survey or can be directed to my email at echoboombomb [at] gmail [dot] com. If you email a question, please be sure to keep it concise and direct.

Question: For inviting Echo Boomers to an event, when would be the best time to text or call Echo Boomers?

Quick Answers:
  • Don't call or text before 10AM.
  • Don't call or text after 6PM.
  • Don't call or text on weekends.
  • Call or text a reminder five or six hours before the event.
  • Echo Boomers, like most people, are more likely to commit to something in earlier hours.

Many in the Millennial generation don't wake before 10AM or aren't fully conscious before then, so I would avoid any time frame that is before then. I would also avoid contacting them after 6PM because Echo Boomers tend to have active social lives. When I would sell financial products to Echo Boomers, few - if any - products would sell beyond the time frame from 10AM to 6PM.

I would also avoid contacting them on weekends, as their weekends tend to be busy. While they may respond to a call or text, they are unlikely to commit to anything as their weekend has probably already been filled. In other words, if you plan an event, try for their commitment early in the week (Monday would be the best day), and then follow up with a reminder five or six hours before the event. This, of course, assumes that you are calling or texting, as you can use email or Facebook at anytime and it doesn't matter.

As a general rule with people when it comes to obtaining commitment, people are more likely to commit to something earlier in the day as opposed to later. I sold 85-90% of my financial products in the first three hours of my shift because people had less on their plates and felt like they could commit. By the time lunch has rolled around, most people feel overwhelmed by everything.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Working With and Selling To Millennial Entrepreneurs

Column Quick Summary:
  • Echo Boomers use social media to create businesses.
  • Echo Boomers approach to making money is, "We're not trying to make money."
  • Echo Boomers donate a portion of their profits to charity.

A recent article highlights how Echo Boomers approach entrepreneurship. The examples listed, like many of the Echo Boomers I spoke with, show how the Millennial generation will use social media to start businesses. If you are trying to sell services to Millennial entrepreneurs, you should start first and foremost with social media, otherwise your marketing message is ineffective.

Notice too that the Millennial attitude toward business is "We're not in this for profits." Of course, actions speak louder than words, and many of these business owners are trying to make money without saying so (there's nothing wrong with making money, but avoiding the perception of making money is a wise decision, given the current economic situation). On top of that, Echo Boomers want their businesses to be seen as "making a difference" or giving money to organizations that are making a difference.

Make no mistake: nothing has fundamentally changed. But the new way of making money is to state, "Hey we're not in this for the money, but to make a difference."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Will Echo Boomers Ever Grow Up?

Column Quick Summary:
  • Column disclosure: anecdotes are not considered statistically valid evidence.
  • (Anecdotal evidence) Stories of local Echo Boomers who act as if work is unnecessary.
  • Echo Boomers "work to live."
  • As economic changes take place, some Echo Boomers will mature while others will have a different value system.

I've warned before that anecdotes are not logically valid evidence, as they sound nice, but often fail to summarize a large group of people. That being written, we - as humans - tend to enjoy anecdotes as we can connect to them better than data. I will briefly abandon my hostility toward anecdotes, but return to some of what studies also indicate.

Recently, I've had multiple exchanges with Echo Boomers in which they asserted that work is unimportant in their life. They pointed out that all they needed a job was "to pay the bills," or "make ends meet." For instance, one young Echo Boomer pointed out that she lived off her parents while working part time to pay for her hobbies; her husband had no job and didn't have a job for over a year. How did this couple manage to make ends meet? Parents. And we're not talking about one year, but several years.

In a group, a few Echo Boomers dismissed the importance of a job. And most of these were male Echo Boomers, who have often been defined by what they do. Instead, they stated that other things were more important than work, all of which are not required to make ends meet. I would be a fool to assume that all Echo Boomers are like this - they are not. But I'll admit that it's odd that a group of young people don't see the importance of a job at all.

Yet Echo Boomers are known for their mentality of "work to live, not live to work." While positive things may be born from this mentality (see Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches), part of this luxury comes from kids who are living off their parents or have few ambitions. They can partake in this lack of work because they have that luxury in few desires or financially empathetic parents.

In the long run, I would estimate that at least half of Echo Boomers will mature in a financial manner. Whether they will want more things, or whether they'll try to keep up with their neighbors, the desire for more will drive them to work more. On the other hand, some Echo Boomers will value living - like many of them do now - and will continue to "scrape by" or find meaning in their own existence outside of work.

To be fair to the latter group, work doesn't always mean "making money."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Generation Y To Parenthood: Thumbs Up

Column Quick Summary
  • Echo Boomers dislike marriage.
  • Echo Boomers list being a good as more important than a successful marriage.
  • Echo Boomers don't see marriage as a prerequisite for parenthood.
  • Expect cultural messages toward Echo Boomers to adjust to these socioeconomic changes.

I've written that Generation Y dislikes marriage, although the Millennial generation likes cohabitation, divorce, hooking up and serial monogamy. Yet even as marriage rates significantly drop among Echo Boomers, what do Echo Boomers think about parenthood and how it relates to the traditional family? Pew research reviewed these views among the Millennial generation and some of its findings were surprising. For instance, 52% of Echo Boomers said that being a good parent is one of the most important things in life, whereas only 30% of Echo Boomers listed having a successful marriage as one of the most important things in life. The 22% gap among Generation Y differed from the 7% gap in Generation X. Traditionally speaking, marriage and family were linked and I doubt past generations would have seen a dichotomy.

Research Error I do not know what Pew asked specifically; if there were options, people could answer however they wanted, or whether they made someone choose one or the other. However, studies like this can imply inaccurate information to readers. For instance, if a surveyor called me and asked, "What would you say is one of the most important things in life?" I would list neither marriage nor parenthood. However, if a researcher asked, "What is more important to you, marriage or parenthood?" I would respond, "Why is it either/or?" I couldn't find the gender breakdown of this Pew study (in the PDF file), but I wonder which gender stated what and how the question was asked. After reviewing it a few times (which is why I've avoided extensive discussion on this topic), I think Pew did a poor job with this study. That, or they failed to discuss their findings with readers in a comprehensive manner.
This study provides some light as to why Echo Boomers don't see the need to marry. Echo Boomers don't see marriage as a requirement for parenthood (consider that a third of Echo Boomers are single parents). In the past, people saw marriage as a prerequisite to becoming a parent, but now the spouse is optional.

I would also point out that there's some appeal to being a single parent: you can control how you raise your kids without the conflict of other input. Many female single parents who were Echo Boomers mentioned this as something they enjoyed about being a single parent as I had conversations with Echo Boomers. Even to this day, when I meet female single parents, they tend to list "more control" as a benefit to parenting without marriage.

While this may seem like FYI news, recognize how this changes marketing. If 33% of Echo Boomers are single parents, why would you only advertise to families? If your products are for kids, you should market to the appropriate audience. Also, recognizing that parenthood has a higher importance than marriage now, focus on investing in industries that capitalize off of parenthood, and not on industries that capitalize off marriage. We'll see lower engagement rings sell, yet products to children and parents will explode.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is Generation Y Part of Occupy Wall Street?

A recent article points to Echo Boomers being behind Occupy Wall Street. Unfortunately, few studies - other than anecdotes - have neither confirmed nor denied this assertion. Many college students, most of whom would be in the Millennial generation, have attended these protests as well.

However, characteristics of Occupy Wall Street remind me of the Millennial generation:

  • They lack leadership and direction, other than protests. Echo Boomers tend to see others in their generation as "equals."
  • They have a lot of free time to protest. Echo Boomers are the highest underemployed generation (excluding Generation Z, which is not in an age range favorable to work).
  • Some lack respect for private property. Echo Boomers often see no moral qualms with illegally downloading movies, music or books.
  • They protest actions that lead to success while assuming that words equal action. Echo Boomers are known as the trophy generation, in other words, they're special "because."
  • Some are protesting against involvement in the two wars. Echo Boomers tend to favor isolationist policies.
  • Some are protesting multiple issues that both parties have been guilty of. Echo Boomers tend to be distributed across the political spectrum, and don't always hold the traditional views of the party they identify.
While the exact demographics may be unknown, I can assure the readers that a large portion of this group is the Millennial generation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hyundai Responds To Echo Boomers

"No Vehicles Please. We're Echo Boomers." Yeah, Right.

Hyundai's new car, the Veloster, isn't just a car, it's a hangout! Auto makers at Hyundai have finally captured how social these Echo Boomers are. The car allows its occupants to text, connect and view video and images.

On top of that, the car comes with a MPH game, which allows drivers to try and "beat" their last high score in MPH. It doesn't stop there: you can compare your score to other Veloster drivers - a gaming-style, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, fuel-efficiency system.

But the marketers did their research:

  • Echo Boomers are social and love social media.
  • Echo Boomers like to be entertained during "downtime."
  • Echo Boomers care about the environment and giving them a game to max out their MPH is playing to their concerns.
  • Echo Boomers like to compare their results to other Echo Boomers.

I would expect some of these features to become the new norm for cars which sell to Echo Boomers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Counterpoint: "Generation Y Welcomes GOP"

A columnist argues that the Millennial generation will vote in favor of the GOP. He lists a few candidates that might do well with Echo Boomers, such as Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. While Ron Paul would attract Echo Boomers, who favor isolationist policies, I'm not sure how many older Americans like Ron Paul. Romney, on the other hand, seems more like a liberal candidate than a conservative candidate.

Of course, I argue (see Generation Y and the 2012 Election) that Democrats have the major edge. The 2012 election is Obama's to lose, though the economy will definitely play a large factor. Obama still will remain on top among Echo Boomers since he has favorable moral views to the Millennial generation and good economic rapport with Echo Boomers (in that the majority of Echo Boomers think that he wants to turn the economy around). In elections, intentions matter.

Still, I'm proud that Echo Boomers have helped return America back to its historical isolationist roots. While no isolationist candidate will win because of the former American generation's views, at least the pendulum is finally moving against global interventionism. After all, if we can't correct our own problems, what are we doing overseas?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Generation Y To Church: "Bye"

Is Judeo-Christianity Dying With Echo Boomers?

Barna research recently put out a list of six reasons why the Millennial generation is leaving church (also see Do Echo Boomers Lack Religion?). To be fair, this article applies to the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, as the growth or lack thereof of Muslims is unknown (and not discussed). A few of the reasons that the article lists, for instance, antagonistic toward science, are examples of how "trying to sell" can backfire.

Of course, the Barna Group fails to offer decent advice, as I think the author recognizes the dilemma that churches face: change Christianity too much and it ceases to be Christianity, but don't change it enough and it fails to appeal to Echo Boomers. In both cases, the author warns of consequences that can come from either focusing on the young or the old. Essentially, it's the classic battle between the Progressives and the Traditionalists (from an economic standpoint, think Hayek versus Keynes). The below video, which features Dr. Jonathan Haidt, shows his perspective on this debate of traditionalists versus progressives, specifically conservatives versus liberals.

While Barna will argue its own way - a balanced approach, I would argue that its entire approach toward the young and old are wrong. Instead of focusing on what attracts people, focus on what can people, uniting together, produce. The first focus - on attraction - is consumptive and puts religious institutions in a dangerous place: they always have to appeal to people. This consumptive view assumes that people are trashcans of input that come to church to be filled by something.

The second focus - on production - sees what people can bring to the table to feed others beyond themselves. The productive view assumes that people are most fulfilled when they help others find fulfillment. In other words, "We eat to stay hungry so that others can eat."

Also, I would adduce that the energy of the young people combined with the wisdom of the old people will produce a congregation with a solid foundation in producing for their church. To draw a pertinent analogy: think of a college football game. The student section brings energy and excitement to the game environment, yet it is the wisdom of the older people who help the young people to understand that winning and losing aren't important, but showing up and supporting something that you love is.
A Lesson From History and Philosophy

Aristotle argued that the young people often brought change, and complained that it was for the worse. However, Aristotle understood that this change often occurred because of the energy of young people. He also recognized the wisdom of older people. While our culture may praise the energy of youth, any institution can also value the wisdom of age. This conflict of young versus old is not new, and if Aristotle had a wiser approach (see Solomon and his wonderful Book of Proverbs1), he would have recognized that each carried their strength.

Essentially, there's no dichotomy, but opportunities that each bring to the church, which can be used. Yet by placing a wrong focus on the generational conflict for attraction, most churches will fall into the category of "failure."

End Notes

1 See Proverbs 16:31 (regarding age) and Proverbs 20:29.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where Will Generation Y Move?

As the economy changes, and Echo Boomers experience trouble with employment, some areas may see an increase in the Millennial population. An article shows this movement and the trends seem to indicate the South and West will be winners against the Northeast. In fact, notice that the Northeast has seen a large decrease in population, while the West has seen strong growth.

Look at the five top states where Echo Boomers are moving:

But notice that Texas had the largest increase in terms of amount of Echo Boomers (out of the top ten). I would argue that those areas will eventually see the strongest housing demand, and an early recovery in housing. On the flip side, expect housing and the economy in the Northeast will take longer to recover.

Regardless of what industry you intend to enter, these areas will offer the most potential in terms of demand from the Millennial generation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Generation Y To McMansions: No Thanks

They're listening, slowly:

“As a result, demand for smaller homes should increase steadily as the baby boomers age,” the Joint Center report states. Since young first-time homebuyers also tend to purchase homes that are smaller and less expensive than average, ‘echo boomers’ will add to the demand for more modest housing as they replace the smaller baby-bust generation in the under-35 age range, researchers note.
Of course, don't make the mistake of assuming that smaller homes will mean that Echo Boomers want less quality. While Echo Boomers may find more interest in the smaller homes, they still are attracted to features like hardwood floors, granite counter tops, et cetera. This information only indicates that smaller homes have more appeal in the housing market at this time (in the long run, Echo Boomers may want larger homes).

Real estate developers might also falsely assume that if Echo Boomers don't want large houses, that will mean less profit, yet the volume of business from potential Millennial buyers could easily offset the loss. The trouble, of course, is that Echo Boomers may not want homes in the long run, in which case the real estate industry will suffer two hits. However, Echo Boomers may view homeownership as McMansion demand, so smaller homes may increase your Millennial customer base.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Do Echo Boomers Want Money, Sex or Self-Esteem Boosts?

A humorous Monday article on what the Millennial generation prefers. Echo Boomers apparently will take a self-esteem boost over money, food and sex (except female Echo Boomers, who valued money and seeing their best friend on par with a self-esteem boost). To be fair, I would respond to the survey in the same way for two reasons:

1. A self-esteem boost could be any number of things. Echo Boomers might think of a raise as a self-esteem boost, in which case they would be making more money. They may also see hooking up with a hot boy/girl as a self-esteem boost. They may like spending time with their best friend because he/she builds their self-esteem (personal example: I get a self-esteem boost when I plot how the VXX will do given the current and previous day's information and watch my theory be confirmed).

2. Depending on how you read the study, a self-esteem boost may be different relative to the day or situation, whereas the other options are set. Let me explain: since our self-esteem can change in one area to another (ie: we can feel good about our financial lives, but bad about our spiritual lives), a favorite self-esteem boost may be relative to the day. What if Echo Boomers aren't hungry? Then they wouldn't want to eat their favorite food. Whereas, if they're having a bad hair day, receiving a compliment on their hair is perfect for the situation.

I would bet that some Echo Boomers read that the same way that I did: it can change relative to the day or situation. The other options can't.

I don't find this study disturbing at all; rather, it's seems quite obvious and hilarious.