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JIM FRONEBERGER: EDITOR

Millennials

      D uring the 2018 ICAS Convention,                                 technology, communications, and an explosion in entertainment
                                      one of the hot topics of          alternatives. So, it’s easy to see why going to an airshow may not
                                      discussion during the education   be as appealing to a Millennial as it has been to us Boomers.
                                      sessions was how to attract more
                               Millennials to airshows. The Pew            Baby Boomers also grew up in a post-war/cold-war era where
                               Research Center defines Millennials as   patriotism and celebration of our military-might were virtually
                               those born between 1981 and 1996, so     synonymous. Airshows are obviously one of the most visible
                               that generation represents people who    displays of that brand of patriotism. By contrast, Millennials
                               are approximately between the ages of    have grown up in a much more complex and diverse world order,
                               22 and 37 today.                         leading to a broader and more nuanced view of what it actually
                                                                        means to be patriotic.
                                  The Millennial generation is
                               important for a number of reasons,          All of these trends point to the need for airshows to adapt to
                               and most of these are not unique to the  attract a younger demographic, and ICAS 2018 was full of great
airshow industry. First and foremost, according to projections by       ideas:
the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are on the verge of surpassing
Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation.            •	Make your airshow a cool place for Millennials to go and be
Millennials are projected to overtake Boomers in population                 seen with their peers.
during 2019, as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers
decline to 72 million. Generation X (ages 38 to 53) is projected to      •	Learn how to market through social media.
also pass the Boomers in population by 2028.                             •	Enhance food and drink options with healthier, Millennial-
   As the Boomer generation continues to shrink, we can expect
Gen Xers and Millennials to continue to grow their influence on             friendly choices, craft beer, and food trucks.
our society. According to Pew, Millennials already make up more          •	Stay ahead of the game and embrace innovation.
than one-in-three American labor force participants, making              •	Seek sponsors that will attract Millennials.
them the largest working generation. The Millennial generation is        •	Add experiential, engagement activities.
also more ethnically and racially diverse, more progressive, more        •	Embrace activities and events that work well with social
technologically-savvy, and more affluent than their predecessor
generations were at the same age. Two bright and energetic                  media to show Millennials having lots of fun.
29-year-olds have even been elected to Congress - Alexandria             •	Shorten the flying portion of the show and add live music and
Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Iowa’s Abby Finkenauer.
   For airshows, the importance of attracting the Millennial                other things Millennials like to do.
generation was captured clearly in the ICAS 2018 Spectator               •	Do the unexpected to get more attention on social media.
Survey. For 2018, the percentage of airshow spectators who were          •	Make sure your marketing plan is mobile-friendly.
over age 55 was just shy of 25%. But over the preceding 20 years,        •	Include Millennials on your airshow marketing team.
the 55+ percentage had averaged closer to 18%. Our audience is
aging, so we must attract a younger audience to be successful in            That last point – including Millennials on your team – may
the years ahead.                                                        be the best advice of all. But one thing I noticed at ICAS was
   The Baby Boomer generation represents people like me                 that ICAS has the same problem as airshows in general. We are
who were born between 1946 and 1964, so it’s easy to see why            definitely an industry of Baby Boomers, and Millennials were
airshows are so popular with our generation. We grew up during          certainly in the minority at ICAS. We need to change that and
the post-war aviation boom, saw the advent of the jet age, the          bring some new, younger faces into our business. We need our
space age, and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. When           established performers to mentor newcomers and bring them
we were growing up, our heroes were astronauts and test pilots,         along like Sean D. Tucker is doing with 27-year-old Johnny
and aviation captured our collective attention like nothing else.       DeGennaro, the wingman for his new two-ship formation team.
   For the more recent generations born from the late 1960s             We need show producers and support service providers to do the
through the turn of the century, the advances in aviation and space     same to bring a fresh new perspective to our business.
technology were more evolutionary than revolutionary, and air
travel became a way of life, not something that was exciting, new,          Maybe we need to let our old Baby Boomer airshow die and
and sexy. The revolutions for Millennials have been in computer         create a new type of airshow to attract the next generation of
                                                                        airshow fans.

www.airshowmag.com 6 January/February 2019
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