Much has been said about marketing to different generations. From the retiring Baby Boomers to the social-media savvy Millennials with the Gen Xers in the middle, all three of them require significantly different marketing techniques.
All four generations have value to businesses, but they all need to be pampered in different ways. Once you figure out the best way to attract each group, the next step is to gain their loyalty. Differentiated marketing can be done by any business with nearly any budget and it generally pays off when done well.
The names and age ranges of the generations often vary between sources. There are still a few remaining members of the generations that fought in World War II, fondly known as The Greatest Generation or the GI Generation, but the youngest of this group is 94 years old.
|Year of Birth||Ages|
|The Silent Generation||1925-1942||76-93|
The Silent Generation
The Silent Generation is known for being traditionalists. They look for items that give them a sense of comfort and value. They also strive to belong. Even though they are senior citizens, they do not want to be thought of as old.
As the senior generation that did not grow up using computers and may have retired before using them in the workplace, many are still leery of technology. Therefore, the best marketing tools are the traditional ones that are printed, on the radio, or on television. Many still have landlines in their phones and they answer when the telephone rings.
Print material should be written for them and should include:
- Polite greetings with sir, madam, Mr. or Mrs.
- Large print
- Professional language
- No slang or need for sex appeal
- A phone number to call rather than a website to visit
Baby Boomers were once the largest generation, but according to the US Census Bureau, Millennials have surpassed them. Boomers have money to spend and many are retired or preparing to retire. This group worked hard and were socially active in their younger years. They have built wealth and they value good deals so they can protect their wealth. Most enjoy using coupons and are the most likely to shop for items on sale.
Baby Boomers have experience using technology. Most were in the workplace when computers were installed. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are both members of the Baby Boomer generation, so members are generally comfortable using text messaging and other basic apps on their smartphones.
This group appreciates both traditional marketing and 21st Century marketing. Whatever style of marketing you use, Baby Boomers appreciate techniques that include,
- The opportunity for face-to-face communication.
- Brands they recognize but are not necessarily loyal to.
- Well-written content without slang or hashtags.
- Products that look expensive, but have bargain prices.
- An appeal to their younger years – “the good ol’ days”.
- A way to improve their lifestyle.
- Simple uses of technology.
- Phone numbers with real people who answer.
Generation X was originally known as the slacker generation, simply because they never really tried very hard. But, this group is at the peak of their buying power as the oldest of the generation is close to retirement. But, this group does not have the same wealth that Baby Boomers have – many are in debt. This group remembers the world before the Internet, but the majority of Gen Xers are adept with technology. Even though this group wants to set its own trends, it does develop brand loyalty. It is also more like to spend more on brands that give back.
This group does not get the same press that Baby Boomers and Millennials get, so don’t forget about them. They are a significant segment of the population and most have dependent children. When marketing to them, remember that they were known as slackers and many do not want to work hard to learn about products and services. This group used to hang out in shopping malls, so they do have a penchant for buying things.
To market to Gen Xer’s, keep these thoughts in mind:
- They do not want to read large amounts of content.
- They like email.
- The older members of the generation like mail.
- They become loyal to brands that offer rewards.
- They like Facebook and YouTube.
- They are turned off by hard-core sales tactics.
Millennials make up the largest group and they do not know the world before the Internet and mobile phones. The last group just graduated from high school and many have already graduated from college. They are not as loyal to brands as older generations, so they can be tricky to convince.
Millennials appreciate products that help the environment or are made with sustainable products. They prefer experiences over things. And, the older Millennials have preferences that are different from the younger ones.
For example, older Millennials might already have children, work in a professional career, and have expensive college debt. Younger Millennials are in college and are still reliant on their parents. But, they all have a knack for technology.
When marketing to Millennials,
- Be active online, with blogs, social media posts (Instagram and Snapchat), and lots of video.
- Discuss the experience of ownership, rather than just the “thing” you are trying to sell.
- Use hashtags.
- Limit email marketing – they don’t check their email as often as Gen Xers.
- Talk about the cause your product supports or how it is sustainable.
- Give them an opportunity to experience the brand.
- Sell online.
The youngest generation that is beginning to develop its buying power is Generation Z or Gen Z. This group is just starting college, but this makes them young consumers. This group has their own money and they have their parents’ money to spend. To get their attention, you have to get their attention, which is difficult because there are plenty of marketers vying for their eyes and ears.
They are young, but they have all grown up with smartphones and they prefer to use them over a computer – both laptop and desktop. So, your company needs to have a website that looks great on their phones. They know what influencers are and they consider YouTubers celebrities.
To market to the oldest of the Gen Z group, businesses need to:
- Tell authentic stories.
- Meet them online, on their phones.
- Be socially conscious.
- Recognize that this group is young and will change as it ages.
- Avoid using traditional celebrities, because Gen Z doesn’t care about them.
- Make sure the website works quickly.
- Create a brand worth following.
Marketing To Different Generations
Once know your target market and who you’re trying to reach you may need to adjust your marketing strategy to meet that audience’s needs. Not everyone responds to the same cookie-cutter marketing approach. You’ll need to get creative and remember to be age appropriate.