Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

Yuppies Are Extinct

Back in the closing decades of the last century, market research companies had a lot of fun naming interesting consumer groups from their segmentation studies.  Some were named to reflect their ‘lifestyles’, others for a particular set of attitudes that researchers were convinced “defined” them.

Invented acronyms were particularly popular. The good ones actually passed into the language, and mile upon mile of newspaper and magazine columns were poured out to “explain” them.  Eager journalists postulated that “society was undergoing irrevocable change” as each new group appeared.  A few examples:

-       NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard

-       YUPPIE: Young Upwardly-Mobile Professional

-       DINKIE: Dual Income, No Kids

-       LOMBARD: Loads of Money But A Right Dickhead

-       SITCOM: Single Income, Two Children, Outrageous Mortgage

-       SINBAD: Single Income, No Boyfriend, Absolutely Desperate

-       GOLD: Golden Oldie Living Dangerously

-       PIPPIE: Person Inheriting Parents’ Property

-       SKI: Spending the Kids’ Inheritance

How we laughed. The best part of the joke was that all these cute initials stood for societal groups (okay, sometimes even real ‘segments’) that we could all recognize from personal encounters. 

The most remarkable thing, however, is the distance between the labels which are no longer a valid definition of anyone and the ones which have become so widespread that they are really no longer ‘segments’ of society at all.

Successive economic downturns have rendered most of the affluence-related consumer groups pretty much extinct.  GOLDs and SKIs may have been commonplace a decade or two ago, but their extravagance savagely thinned the ranks of the PIPPIES.  SITCOMS disappeared with falling interest rates and the bursting of house-price bubbles.  And when was the last recorded sighting of a genuine YUPPIE?

The only group that Pi sees as still important today is the NIMBYS.  We first saw them emerge in the shadow of Chernobyl, and their numbers have swelled with continued concerns about nuclear waste dumps, airports, electricity-generating windmills, and mining techniques like ‘fracking’.  NIMBYS are now so numerous that they no longer constitute a “segment” of anything. 

Pi says:  this is the fundamental problem with most segmentation research labels: sooner or later they pass their use-by date.

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Other