NEO Typology: A new consumer you need to know

NEO Typology

Do you consider yourself a Traditionalist or a NEO?

We recently came across a blog article posted by Ross Honeywill that explained an interesting new concept labeled NEO Typology. This new North American population classification splits society into two buckets: the traditional economic order (traditionalists) and the New Economic Order (NEO).

NEOs are socially progressive, have a lot of discretionary income, and are “Big Spenders” — so much so that 92 percent of them fall into that spending category as well as the top one-third of discretionary spenders in the world, according to Honeywill’s information.

Conversely, traditionalists are much more conservative in their social attitudes. They are price sensitive and reluctant to spend money. They seek deals and focus on features and function of the deal as opposed to feeling a personal connection to it.

NEOs, who make up one-fourth of the population, have substantial social and economic clout. They are drawn to purchasing the latest and greatest technologies and showcasing their status with home renovations, travel and fine dining. They desire services that make their lives easier, more individual and controllable. A NEO votes, goes to college and has a professional or executive role.

NEOs are born NEOs and will remain either a NEO or an Evolving NEO for life. Likewise, traditionalists are born and will die traditionalists.

Profiling NEOs

Most NEOs prefer to live in urban and metropolitan areas. According to Honeywill, there are 59 million NEOs in the U.S. Of that number, 45 percent are women and 55 percent are men. For people between the ages of 20 and 50, NEOs exceed the national average in every profile. Traditionalists, on the other hand, dominate the national average in every profile for people age 50 and older. Fifty percent of all people with a university degree are NEOs, and NEOs are four times more likely than traditionalists to have degrees.

While NEOs typically earn more, that higher earning power is not what makes them NEOs. Instead, they earn more because they are NEOs, according to Honeywill. While a person’s income doesn’t necessarily dictate how much they spend, NEOs do spend more than traditionalists, and they spend their money more frequently — part of why they make up 92 percent of the “Big Spender” category.

NEO’s are mobile. They are also planners and take calculated risks—like starting and running small businesses. Being mobile beings, 20 percent of NEOs are contemplating a job change at any given time, compared to only 12 percent of traditionalists, who are more likely to define themselves by their job.

Motivating Factors

With NEOs, much of their life is lived online—a place where they can have individual control and accelerate the mundane tasks in life such as banking, staying in touch, book travel, purchase items and the like. In addition to their high level of discretionary spending, they also heavily consume all types of media.

NEOs are deeply influenced by social issues, with nearly half demonstrating progressive social attitudes compared to one in five traditionalists. NEOs are attracted to all things new and are therefore early adopters.

NEOs like themselves, their choices and their jobs. They like to look stylish and are predominantly extroverted, according to Honeywill. They view themselves as intellectuals, believe that success is important and desire responsibility in their professional roles.

NEOs are passionate, active and involved. In seeking the path less travelled, they still encounter mainstream culture (such as football), but it is their individual twist on mainstream society that distinguishes them and makes them a challenging audience for mainstream marketing approaches.

Interested in learning more? Watch the NEO video.