June 7, 2005, 12:00 AM

Echo Boomers: a generation on the move

Online retailers will need new marketing strategies to appeal to the Echo Boomers, Baby Boomers’ offspring born between 1982 and 2002, says Doug Akin, managing partner of Mr. Youth Inc.

Online retailers will need new marketing strategies to appeal to the Echo Boomers, Baby Boomers’ offspring born between 1982 and 2002, says Doug Akin, managing partner of Mr. Youth Inc., a consulting and marketing company that specializes in youth marketing.

Akin spoke yesterday at the First Annual International Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

Echo Boomers are “an extremely powerful” force, representing 35% of the U.S. population and $180 billion in annual spending, Akin says. “Online is really where this consumer grew up,” he says. “While many of you may have grown up riding bikes in the suburbs, and that was your form of reaching your adolescence, these consumers are surfing the web … They’re growing up quicker, they’re much more marketing savvy. They have a keen understanding of what’s out there, they want the best price, and they’re incredibly hard to reach because they’re constantly on the move.”

The typical Echo Boomer is 18 years old, has 185 buddies, and spends an average of 14.8 hours per week on the web, doing everything from downloading music to chatting with friends to looking for the best deals out there, he says.

“He’s constantly checking his e-mail to see what’s coming in, what new opportunities he can take advantage of,” Akin says. “He’s really hungry for information online which makes it incredibly important that you direct your marketing messages to him in an effective manner.”

Unlike older generations that are aware of what’s going on in the world around them, Echo Boomers are in their own vast little community, Akin says. “They’re listening to IPODs with an earphone in one ear and their cell phones in the other.”

That makes it difficult for retailers to catch their attention. “It’s a high-speed generation. Everything has to be quick,” he says. “If your web site takes a minute to load, it could be the coolest visuals in the world, but you’re going to lose these customers. They’re going to go on to a competitor’s web site.”

While flash introduction movies on web sites may be really cool and cost a lot of money, young people just skip through them, Akin says. “You want to reach them with their cell phones, their wireless devices, make sure that they’re constantly hooked,” he says.

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