by Hans Eisenbeis
Here in Minnesota, where CEB Iconoculture was born, LGBT rights have long been a part of the public discourse. Jack Baker, a gay activist at the University of Minnesota during the 1960s, successfully married his partner Michael McConnell in 1971 by first legally changing his name to Pat to obtain a license. It was the first legal gay marriage in the US, though courts quickly stepped in to deny the men any legal rights. More important, perhaps, Baker and his fellow student activists helped start the Gay Pride movement, which has swept the entire planet since then.
Many have been surprised at how relatively quickly public opinion seems to have changed on the subject of same-sex marriage. The year my now-17-year-old daughter was born, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed, and the federal government officially rejected LGBT rights to marry. Last year, I watched her and her cohorts work to oppose a ballot measure in Minnesota that would have banned same-sex marriage. This summer, the US Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional, and numerous states have decided to embrace same-sex civil rights. What’s undeniable is that the youth of today are beginning to flex their muscles (and their values). And what muscles! In the past 17 years, 78 million Millennials have gone from playpens to voting booths. While Boomers still monopolize marketing departments all over the nation, Millennials outnumber them by several million. That’s a bigger boom than the original.
The moral of the story? No matter your take on LGBT rights, you simply can’t ignore the market potential or cultural influence of the emerging generation of young adults. They’ll change the world to meet their needs and values — and you’ll want to change with them, or risk aging into the past. Just ask my daughter.
CEB Iconoculture clients interested in following the Millennial generation or the LGBT community can access our research feeds, covering the critical shifts in consumer behavior and brands’ responses to those shifts.
photo credit: ldhoward, Flickr.com