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May 2015

Media Post

Recent reports from Amadeus (“Future Traveler Tribes 2030”) and TrendWatching (“Post Demographic Consumerism”) paint a compelling picture of this post-demographic traveler and the need for marketers and businesses to shift their sights to a consumerism fueled by values, behaviors, attitudes and needs.

The Post-Demographic Traveler

by Gary Leopold

It’s time to recalibrate the way we segment travelers. No longer do the neat demographic boxes of age, gender, income or family status translate into defined audiences marching to a similar beat. Recent reports from Amadeus (“Future Traveler Tribes 2030”) and TrendWatching (“Post Demographic Consumerism”) paint a compelling picture of this post-demographic traveler and the need for marketers and businesses to shift their sights to a consumerism fueled by values, behaviors, attitudes and needs.

These reports make it clear that people of all ages, in virtually all markets, are constructing their own identities more freely than ever, no longer fitting stereotypical descriptions.

Who would guess that women comprise the largest market of gamers in the UK, or that there are more gamers over the age of 44 than under the age of 18. Or that if you look at the list of the 1,000 favorite music artists of 60 year olds and the top 1,000 artists of 13 year olds, there would be a 40% overlap.

It’s not surprising then that the TrendWatching report starts with the observation, “You’re not the only one who’s confused by consumer behavior. Consumers themselves aren’t behaving as they ‘should.’”

As you might expect, the rapid globalization and dissemination of information is causing shifts in how we group consumers, and technology has diminished the many barriers that hindered our ability to communicate and interact with others around the world.

As the TrendWatching study states, “Any and all revolutionary – or simply just compelling – innovations will be rapidly adopted and almost instantly reshape the expectations of any and all demographics. Society is too fluid, ideas now too available, the market too efficient, the risk and cost of trying new things too low for this not to be the case.”

What both these reports reveal is that since we are all now constantly exposed to an abundance of cultures, beliefs, values, music, fashions and foods, we are each developing our own distinct perspective of the world and our place in it. Yet, at the same time, consumers of every type use mega-brands like Apple, Amazon, Starbucks and Ikea, resulting in a global ubiquity and familiarity that creates an increasingly universal experience. People across the planet are largely lusting for the same smartphone, latest clothing styles and trendy beverage.

Amadeus even predicts a further rise of “Interculturism” in which future generations will self-identify more fluidly and will not have fixed ideas about the characteristics that define a particular national, ethnic or religious group.

Consumers increasingly pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with, without any regard to demographic conventions. As TrendWatching observes, with aspiration becoming increasingly age-agnostic and globalized, demographic segments are becoming less meaningful predictors of consumption patterns.

The marketplace is now being driven by status symbols that are no longer material goods, but rather new experiences, authenticity, greater connection, health and sustainable lifestyles. These all have universal appeal and are open and attainable by everyone who desires them regardless of age or income.

As the Amadeus report reveals, when we look specifically at the travel sector, we must look beyond demographics and focus instead at attitudes toward travel. What purpose does travel and this trip serve in the lives of those who are traveling?

Although the study makes a point that the modern consumer increasingly demands the kind of personalization in delivery of products and services that effectively treats each consumer as an individual, they still believe there are marketing efficiencies to be had by clustering together those travelers motivated by similar desires.

To that end, they’ve created six categories they call tribes, but could just as easily have been called the post-demographic traveler, that are intended to be provocative caricatures to help stimulate conversation within our industry on how to best service and appeal to this evolving customer.

Calling them Simplicity Searchers, Cultural Purists, Social Capital Seekers, Reward Hunters, Obligation Meeters and Ethical Travelers, and providing us with detailed insights as to what is shaping and driving these travelers, Amadeus has given us a useful shorthand to help us further shift our focus beyond traditional demographics and instead look to traveler’s motivations and interests.

Of course, with every clustering of customers, TrendWatching reminds us that, “Increasingly we’ll need to target and cater to ever-smaller (and ever-more accurate) interest-based segments, instead of the over-general traditional demographic.”

It’s clearly becoming a post-demographic world and these two reports serve as valuable guides for any travel marketer wanting to successfully embrace and capitalize on this reality.