Insurers wondering how to engage the Millennial Generation may have to fine-tune their marketing efforts or find more innovative products to pitch. According to market researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as a result of the Great Recession, a younger cohort of this group has emerged with very different values, desires and lifestyles.

Millennials, aka the Gen Y or ME Generation, are called that based on their common birth range — from 1980-1999 — giving a child born in 1980 time to grow into adulthood and be able to reproduce their own offspring at the turn of the millennium. The Millenial generational cohort, say researchers, was born after 1981. They are the children of the baby boomers and the younger siblings of the Generation Xers. They are the largest cohort, numbering about 75 million, after the 78-80 million boomers.

The team of researchers, Charles Schewe, professor of marketing, Kathleen Debevec and William Diamond, associate professors of marketing, and Thomas Madden, professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina, note that the severe economic downturn does not appear to have instilled the value of thrift and simplicity among younger Millennials, but rather the desire to enjoy life and make the most of it.

In fact, these younger Millennials appear to be more pleasure-seeking and possessing a greater sense of entitlement than older Millennials, the team says. The values most strongly differentiating the younger and older Millennials were “piety” and “thrift.” The new sub-cohort of younger Millennials is less thrifty and more secular and sexually permissive than older Millennials, the researchers say. They are also less patriotic and less concerned about politics, sustainability, saving and making mistakes in life.

The researchers say that if the new job market for college graduates continues at its dismal pace, the soon-to-be graduates could very well return home to parents and languish in temporary jobs that do not produce a strong career path.

So what does this mean for insurers? If the researchers are correct, insurers will face the same marketing segment as before — the baby boomer parents of Millennials. However, both property/casualty and health/life insurers have an opportunity to target this market segment with products tied to multi-car discounts, new health policies for dependents, and additional retirement products to ensure the parents insure their own financial well-being.

 Pat Speer is editor in chief at Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication

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