Generations are not a one-size-fits-all experience and people born within a certain time frame experience things differently. Nevertheless, each generation’s mindset has been influenced by its social environment, in which individuals develop values that frequently shape their purchasing behavior. Since each generation is disconnected by particular preferences, priorities, and perspectives, companies often struggle with identifying and appealing to these differences. Generational marketing targets age groups according to their specific characteristics, from experienced and loyal Baby Boomers to tech-savvy and liberal Millennials.
Born between the years 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are the biggest generation. They were present during the rise of television, yet are often misconceived as technophobes who reject modern technology. However, this is completely false. Although the majority of social media users are Millennials, more and more Baby Boomers are joining social media outlets for advice and opinions about online shopping. In fact, companies can make the mistake of primarily focusing on Millennials and overlook the large Baby Boomer market of retired and devoted customers with disposable incomes.
Marketing to Baby Boomers:
- Focus on community, loyalty, and hard work to establish credibility
- Keep promises to maintain trust and develop brand loyalty
- Replace the words “old,” “elderly,” and “senior” with “experienced”
- Keep it simple with more visuals and bigger writing
Halfway between the generation of Baby Boomers and that of the Millennials, individuals born between 1965 and 1980 accelerated the process towards modernization. They experienced the rise of personal computers and are considered as the first latchkey kids, with parents working outside of home. Gen Xers typically have more to spend as a result of the two-income household. However, as a consequence of the dot-com bubble, Gen Xers are independent and skeptical thinkers.
Marketing to Gen Xers:
- Advertise deals on social media with exclusive discounts
- Focus on factual information instead of visual appeal
- Avoid conventional and transparent advertising tactics
- Appeal to their family-oriented values
Generation Y or Millennials
As the children of the Baby Boomers, Millennials are the second largest generation. Unlike the previous generations, Gen Y experiences tremendous and rapid technological changes like no other. They are born into a wireless global community and are accustomed to ubiquitous information, which can make advertising aimed at this generation particularly difficult. Since Millennials are cautious of traditional marketing strategies, word-of-mouth referrals and subtle campaigns have proven to be much more effective towards Gen Y.
Marketing to Millennials:
- Use word-of-mouth buzz over customary marketing
- Provide content on social media that can freely move among platforms
- Sell experiences instead of material possessions
- Integrate music, fashion, and humor into campaigns
Whether the target generation is the experienced Baby Boomers or independent Gen Xers, it is important to examine your consumer base before designing a marketing technique. If you need help, take a look at Marketing Zen’s series Multi-Generational Marketing for more information.
About the Author: Kathy Yoo is an SEO & Outreach Intern at The Marketing Zen Group. As an avid traveler and learner from Canada, she enjoys exploring different cultures and cheering for the Toronto Raptors. Catch up with her on Twitter @kathy__yoo.