Understanding The New LifeCycle Revolution
Business product developers and marketers once knew what activities people were likely to be involved in just by knowing their age. This traditional linear view no longer applies, writes Maddy Dychtwald, an expert on generational marketing. In Cycles, she rethinks the opportunities that are available to marketers and product developers now that the average life expectancy has risen to 77 and lifestyles and life stages have changed. This new focus has created new freedoms and responsibilities that shape how people live, work and buy, and has changed the marketplace, the workplace and the lives of consumers. Dychtwald calls these changes a LifeCycle revolution.
Not long ago, most people followed a linear path from school to marriage, children and then retirement. Now, people often return to school when they are in their 30s, have children in their 40s, start new careers in their 50s, and remarry in their 70s. Dychtwald writes that this cyclic approach to life is replacing the old linear path. Longer, healthier lives have brought about a dramatic change in the way consumers perceive their options. The shifting age demographic has created a group of highly educated and independent people who are seeking challenge, adventure, connection and purpose at all ages.
Dychtwald has studied current demographics and has arrived at a new cycle approach to determine the factors that guide consumer choices. She writes that age is becoming less and less of a determining factor in consumer choices and is less important when they define themselves and are defined by others. She also states that there is a wealth of opportunities that are now available due to this new cyclic approach.
Challenging Conventional Thinking
Cycles contains numerous examples of people who are challenging conventional thinking and following nonlinear life paths. Recent changes in lifestyle include widespread phenomena, such as lifelong learning, serial careers, revamped institutions of marriage and family, expanded recreational pursuits, and healthy aging and retirement. Dychtwald investigates how companies can best respond to the challenges presented by those who embrace new lifestyles, and offers advice about how businesses can satisfy these consumers and benefit from a cyclic work force.
Lifelong learning, which has developed to address young and old alike and has created even more highly educated consumers, is the first major ingredient in the cyclic life Cycles explores. Next, Dychtwald examines the ways careers have shifted away from lifelong corporate relationships to a fluid labor pool where people cycle in and out of the work force, either by choice or by layoff. Another part of the cyclic life explored in Cycles is romance, which offers many commercial opportunities for those who aim to capitalize on a population that cycles in and out of love.
The Changing Family
Family is another aspect of the cyclic lifestyle. Dychtwald writes that midlife parenting, blended families, friends as surrogate family, and every other conceivable derivation of the family must be considered by businesses when they define and target families as a demographic. She also examines play and recreation, and the opportunities created for businesses by this growing component of consumers' cyclic life paths.
The rising popularity of regaining vitality and the opportunities being created for health care, wellness, fitness, beauty, personal care, and rejuvenation are also explored in Cycles. Retirement and the changes that are necessary in the commercial world of financial planning, employee benefits, and retirement living are re-envisioned as well.
After presenting detailed demographics about this new cyclic society, Dychtwald presents seven key strategic guideposts that she writes can help companies and organizations thrive. These are:
- Embrace the new ageless consumer.
- Target lifestyle and LifeCycle, not age.
- Reinvention is a constant in the cyclic life.
- Empower consumers.
- Needed: lifestyle navigation.
- Target freedom and security.
- Optimize a cyclic work force.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Dychtwald presents revealing data and convincing arguments that explain why businesses should rethink the linear perspective of consumers and embrace her view of a cyclic society. She makes many timely points about the current state of the marketplace and offers useful statistics and examples that describe the changes that are underway. She also presents many tips and strategies to help organizations benefit from these new opportunities.