Q: We currently appeal to baby boomers because they typically have discretionary money, more flexible time and grown children. How can we attract younger clients?
Steve Silberberg, owner
Fitpacking Weight Loss Backpacking Adventures
A: Your question contains the germ of the answer. Your current customers have money, time, low external responsibilities and a desire to reboot their lives. These are all factors that affect how they spend their money, and it happens to be convenient to call them baby boomers. By itself, age is a poor predictor of how people spend nontrivial amounts of discretionary income. Instead, let’s consider the traits of millennials vis-à-vis what your company offers. It seems obvious that your core offering is of little interest to most millennials, which leaves two options.
It’s unlikely a subset of millennials will be interested in your current service. So consider another approach.
Option two is to redesign your actual service to appeal to people (really of any age) who have neither money, time, nor a need to reboot their lives. As informal research, I ran your question past my students and told them to only consider your company’s very apt and descriptive name. Three separate classes quickly coalesced around shorter trips, more emphasis on location, dropping the weight-loss aspect and offering group discounts to enhance the likelihood of bringing their own friends. I would argue that more millennials have these interests than share the goals of your current customers.
Practically speaking, this means you should set up a separate business unit to deal exclusively with younger customers. This new unit’s name should not start with “Fitpacking Weight Loss.” Additionally, this unit should offer shorter trips and the stated benefits should be more akin to doing something new with friends rather than losing weight. This, of course, would be a drastic change from your current business and there may be complications. For example, shorter trips will probably mean people won’t be willing to travel as far to the starting point, which means you will need to target specific geographies. Important details, but nothing that some basic market research can’t resolve.
James Heyman is an associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.