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Review: Millennials with Kids – Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation Parents by Fromm and Vidler

MillennialsThis review first ran in the Sept. 28 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Millennials With Kids: Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation of Parents

By Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler



Here are two ways to convince more Millennials to move to Hamilton.

Rebrand our Ambitious City as the Useful City.

And have drones fly over Walmart when shooting highlight reel videos of Hamilton.

Here’s why.  Today’s Millennials are tomorrow’s pragmatists and Walmart shoppers.

“Usefulness will become the new cool and Millennial consumers will take to brands that can contribute to their new idea,” predict Jeff Froom, president of a Millennial marketing firm and Marissa Vidler, founder of a marketing research firm specializing in Millennial consumers. “Pragmatism is rooted in the idea that success is based on how practical something is and how easily something can solve a problem.”

Time-squeezed Millennials who got hit hard by the Great Recession will embrace pragmatism because their lives are about to get even more complicated, stressful and expensive.

“There is an epidemic raging through the Millennial generation, and it seems to be unstoppable,” say Froom and Vidler. “All signs point to the continual spread of this epidemic until the vast majority of the Millennial population is affected. Once exposed, everything changes – in a heartbeat. What could be so contagious, so powerful, so life altering? Parenthood.”

By one count, a quarter of Millennials are already parents. As more of them become moms and dads, they’ll define family life for the next 30 years. Look for Millennials to raise kids blessed with an unprecedented sense of individual tolerance and social responsibility. Millennial moms and dads will lead the charge in setting new standards for health and nutrition and new expectations when it comes to the quality and purity of the food that they serve to their families.

As parents, they’ll be less involved in civic, political and social causes and they’ll become more conservative.

Froom and Vidler believe Millennials with kids will be our most innovative and empowered generation of parents in history. “Now, more than ever, it’s time to stop treating them like kids who are an enigma and start treating them like adults who are in charge and make their own decisions and budgets – and who are quite pragmatic.”

Millennials will also discover what every parent knows all too well. Kids change everything, priorities radically shift and household expenses can go through the roof.

While 20-somethings may swear they’ll never venture beyond downtown and step foot in a Walmart, that pledge of unallegiance is subject to change.

In a recent survey of top 10 brands, Millennials ranked Walmart dead last.  Walmart climbed to the fourth spot among Millennial moms and dads. Why the jump in popularity?

“Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always about the ‘coolest’ brand (or in this case maybe the ‘least uncool brand’) but rather it comes back to the king and queen of shopping priorities for Millennial parents – price and convenience – both of which Walmart consistently delivers on.”

Yes, some Millennial parents will drop a small fortune on brands that deliver unique, personalized experiences and high quality for their kids.  They’ll shop and splurge at Whole Foods and Pottery Barn. Yet they’ll also look to balance the family finances by saving money on other household purchases.

“Walmart has mastered the art of high-low budgeting,” say Froom and Vidler. “Walmart understands that Millennials are going to spend money on products that are beyond their budget.  They plan to make up for that spending by saving pennies elsewhere. Enter Walmart – the ultimate retailer for a budget-conscious shopper. Walmart is the ideal retailer for bulk shopping that provides essentially everything new Millennial parents need for their households.”

So let’s welcome Millennials to the Useful City. Let’s tell them why we’re the best and easiest place to raise a child.  And let’s show them that we have Walmarts to go along with our waterfalls, parks and downtown arts scene.

Review: Leap – Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want

LeapThis review first ran in the Sept. 14 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want

By Tess Vigeland

Harmony Books


You’re living the dream.

You went to school, got a job in your field and built yourself a rewarding career.

You’ve climbed to the top rungs on the ladder of success.

You’ve got fortune and fame. You’re a mover and a shaker.

You’re also bored out of your mind.  Every day’s a grind. You’re exhausted at the end of the week and dread Monday mornings. Instead of recharging your batteries, vacations bury you in melancholy.

A promotion and bigger paycheck won’t pull you out of your funk.

You’re ready to hit the reset button yet have no idea what comes next. You’re not keen on doing more of the same for a different employer with a new cast of colleagues.

You keep doing what you’re doing because there are mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay. You’re the breadwinner. There isn’t three months of salary parked in a savings account.  You’ve got a generous pension plan and full dental and medical coverage.

You feel guilty because jobs like yours are tough to get. Walk away and there’s no coming back if you come to your senses and realize the grass isn’t greener.

You’ve been told to never quit a job until another one’s lined up. You’ve been taught to be ambitious and always strive for bigger and better. Successful careers move on an upward trajectory. Voluntarily moving down a rung or stepping off the ladder is a career-limiting move.

Forget knowing the colour of your parachute. You don’t even have a parachute.

Jump anyway and sew it while you’re in mid-air, says the author of Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want.

Tess Vigeland speaks from experience. She walked away from her dream job hosting Marketplace on National Public Radio in 2012 without knowing what to do next.

“This is a story about coming to grips with the idea that you don’t have to be defined by your work,” says Vigeland.

“This is also a reality check. Leaping is difficult. We are all expected to have five-year and ten-year plans. We are expected to have a dream of that next thing we want to do. But a lot of us don’t. What we have is a fear of the unknown future and a severe allergy to sharing that fear with other people. This is my inoculation against that allergy. Shall we hold hands as we leap?”

Vigeland tells stories about professionals who’ve lept. Some landed safely in a better place while others were still in mid-air years later and a few suffered hard landings.

Prepare to spend long, lonely months wrestling with self-doubt, redefining success and rethinking what makes you remarkable. “We all know we’re not supposed to define ourselves and our success by money, by page views, by Twitter followers, by fan mail, by audience size. But if you have a job, it does define you in many ways. Focusing on externalities like money and prestige is a hard habit to break.”

You’re also defined by the expectations of others, no matter how unrealistic.  “What if you didn’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations, including your own, to be bigger and better with every passing year? No matter what your next steps are – up the ladder, down the ladder, or off the ladder entirely – the process of figuring out how to remove that weight of expectation, or at least lessen the load, is an invaluable one. You can learn a lot from just giving yourself a freaking break.”

Leap isn’t an instruction manual. You won’t find 10 easy steps to walking away and starting over. But it’s a must-read for anyone who knows it’s time to move on but doesn’t yet have the courage to leap without a net.

“I cannot wrap this up in a neat little bow,” says Vigeland about her own leap. “It ends in uncertainty. And the best that I’ve been able to do is to get more comfortable being uncomfortable, to accept the uncertainty and not let it dominate my attention.”