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The New York Times reports on the challenge of marketing to “millennials, as those born between 1980 and 2000 are sometimes called, are now in their early to mid-20's. By 2010, they will outnumber both baby boomers and Gen-X'ers among those 18 to 49 - the crucial consumers for all kinds of businesses, from automakers and clothing companies to Hollywood, record labels and the news media.”

The problem with reaching these consumers is that they tend to connect with media in unorthodox ways. They may watch television, programs, for example, but they often download them to their computers and don’t see commercials. And they spend much of their time playing video games, computer games, and using other technologies that distract them from traditional media outlets through which marketers have long marketed to consumers.

“Advertisers and media and technology companies, mindful that young consumers have migrated away from the traditional carriers of their messages, have begun to find new ways to reach them,” the NYT writes. “They are creating advertising and short videos for mobile phones, for instance, cell networks with dedicated game channels, and $1.99 TV programs to download to iPods and PC's.

“And while the emerging generation's deftness with technology is a given, researchers say the most potent byproduct may be the feedback factor, which only accelerates the cycles of what's hot and what's over.”
KC's View:
Sometimes, people in the supermarket business believe that these kinds of enormous generational shifts won’t affect them, that somehow people may change their behavior everywhere else but will still shop the supermarket the way their parents and grandparents did.

Which is, to say the least, a mistake.

Companies ought to be hiring members of this generation to figure out how to reach the millennial shopper. Because, to adapt a phrase from youth, sometimes it really does take one to know one.