Welcome to the New Age

Millennials, finally, have surpassed Baby Boomers in one competition for the ages.

millennials walking on campus

Twenty-two. It’s the new 53.

This isn’t one of those “40 is the new 30” rationalizations, dreamed up by people on final approach to the start of their fifth decade. In this case, it’s an actual and factual equivalence.

Just a couple of years ago, the most common age in America was 53. That meant there were more 53-year-old Americans walking our streets, driving our roads, nodding off on our couches, than anyone of any other single age.

That wasn’t always the case. Not exactly. The year before, presumably, there were more 52-year-olds than anyone else.

But that’s basically been the case for more than half a century. Basically, every year dating back to 1947 – the very start of the Baby Boomer – the most common age in the country was a year out of the Boomer generation.

Until last year. In 2014, the Boomers finally were surpassed by the Millennials. Not just for the top spot but every position on the medal stand.

According to a May 20014 article in the New York Times, the most common age among Americans last year, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, was 22. Second place went to 23-year-olds, and 21-year-olds claimed the bronze. It was an unprecedented sweep for the early 20-somethings.

The Boomers — specifically, 53-year-old Boomers – finished a forgotten fourth.

Perhaps now you’re starting to see the wisdom behind the Newbridge business model. Sure, the college-aged consumer has always been a cherished corner of the marketplace. But now there are quantitative reasons to pursue connections to Millennials on campus to go with the traditional qualitative ones. There are a lot of great reasons to market to 22-year-olds – the newest one being that there are more 22-year-olds than anyone.

Which is cool to think about. Let’s face it . . . twenty-two is a good year.

For many, it’s the year they will graduate college. It tends to be a year of significant firsts: cars, apartments, “real” jobs. It’s the beginning of the peak of the typical young adult’s physical prime, when bodies are healthiest and highest functioning. Cognition is still operating at peak performance, and it’s still in the sweet spot of Stage 6 of Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development (when individuals value intimacy over isolation).

There’s a lot going on at 22.  And a lot getting done.

Charles Darwin was 22 when he set sail on the H.M.S. Beagle, bound for the Galapagos Islands and scientific history. Mark Spitz was 22 when he won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. When the Beatles recorded their first studio album, Please Please Me, John Lennon was the ripe young age of . . . you get the picture.

At 22, you’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way. At least that’s how  Taylor Swift sees it. Swift was (yep) 22 when she released Red, the album that featured the song, 22, whose lyrics were shamelessly pinched in the previous sentence.

Those 22-year-olds and their fellow Millennials are a vital part of our economy. They represent, as noted by Pew Research, “the largest share of the American workforce.” They are plugged into technology, tapped in to key trends in entertainment and fashion. They care about education and the environment and government . . . and why not? It is, as the census data bears out, increasingly their world.

And so we at Newbridge continue our commitment to connecting to 22-year-olds and the rest of their campus communities, introducing them to new products and ideas, new experiences and adventures. It’s good business, and it sure keeps us young.

We congratulate those 21-, 22- and 23-year-olds who cornered the latest census leaderboard. We applaud you and enthusiastically agree: 22 is No 1. Enjoy it.

Everything will be all right, as Taylor sings, if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.

David Seigerman’s latest book, Take Your Eye Off The Ball 2.0 (Triumph Books)
will be released this fall. Follow him at @dseigs18.

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