June 29, 2011 09:00 ET

Millennial Spending Spikes-With Nowhere to Go But Up

Back-To-School Season Offers Make-Or-Break Connection to Crucial Consumers

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 29, 2011) - For corporations, the 2011 back-to-school period has a make-or-break urgency. To succeed, corporations must capture 18 to 30-year-old "Millennial" consumers – both because of their enormous spending and taste-influencing power now and because they will be the majority of all consumers in a few years.

The back-to-school period is the most intense period of spending by this critical group, also known as Generation Y. Moreover, stunning growth rates within this group – notably in discretionary spending – far exceed economic averages. Numbering 70 to 80 million North Americans today, within 20 years this group will be the majority. While failing to take advantage of this colossal opportunity this year may not spell irreversible disaster for marketers, effectively capitalizing on this window of spending can catapult a company securely into the future.

Statistics say that Millennial spending shot up 13% from $270 billion in 2009 to $306 billion this year. More significantly, discretionary spending increased 10%, accounting for about 22.5% of all spending. Within this figure, discretionary spending is set to increase 10% from $62.7 billion to $69 billion, making college consumers an even more desirable demographic for marketers.

This significant market is about to become the definitive consumer demographic as Millennials graduate, marry, purchase cars and homes and begin families. But a potentially scary reality for marketers is that Millennials are not just the next iteration of previous consumer generations. They are distinctive in ways that demand an entirely new approach to student marketing.

The amount of money controlled by this young cohort is staggering. And it is particularly notable that brand loyalties are being formed in ways that differ from that process in the past. This generation is determined to change the world, but they see the most impactful hope of doing that, not through ballots, but through wallets. This raises the bar for corporate success beyond the traditional bottom lines of quality products and competitive prices.

This is all very relevant right now because the next few weeks present corporations with a make-or-break opportunity. While not exactly life-and-death – yet – refining marketing to meet the demands of Millennials will become absolutely compulsory for successful companies. Gaining traction in this demographic now is vital to survival later.

A small number of agencies have emerged to help corporations reach this critical market, foremost among them CampusAuction , which is a North America-wide Millennial marketing service with a unique philanthropic value proposition that provides exceptional return on investment. For marketers facing short deadlines to make a dramatic impression on Gen Y consumers, CampusAuction presents an affordable turnkey introduction to millions of Millennial consumers.

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