“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last” – John F. Kennedy
Generational Targeted Marketing looks at how peoples’ values, lifestyles and attitudes are shaped by the history that dominates their formative years. This, in turn, influences the respective consumer group’s responses to products, services, causes, political views and even jobs.
The current six American generations marketers focus on are: the Pre-Depression Generation, the Depression-Era Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. In this post we’re considering what touches the hearts and minds, motivates action, and best reaches each of the of three priority generations for marketers (or, shall I say, the generations that currently have the greatest purchasing power ) — Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Boomers are busy people. Often referred to as the “sandwich generation,” they are juggling kids, parents and careers, so time is of the essence. As such, they respond to things that make their lives easier. But you’d better get your point across quickly and concisely, since they don’t often take time to read lengthy marketing messages.
Also keep in mind that Boomers, as Generational Targeted Marketing expert Ann Fishman describes, are focused on their own youth, and are “anti-authoritarian.” They don’t respond to celebrity endorsements but rather want their own expertise and value showcased in the messages they receive, along the lines of “You’re important to our success” and “We need you.” So stick with communications methods that enable you to personalize your message and convey the Boomer’s value in the equation, such as through special events and recognition programs, direct mail, face-to-face conversations, and e-mail.
In the world of social media, Facebook is preferred over Twitter, which Boomers consider too impersonal.
- Gen X (1965-1981)
Gen X-ers demand an honest, straightforward approach. This generation is extremely market-savvy. X-ers have been shopping all their lives – on TV, on the Internet and at the mall – in fact it is a part of their social lives. Yet, members of this generation often need reassurance that their purchasing decisions are sound. You must show them that you know what you are talking about and remember that they expect you to deliver on your marketing promises.
With respect to communication style, their preference is informal. Speak to them using frank, straightforward and non-threatening language. Members of Generation X also crave details, so give them plenty of access to information and keep them in the loop by asking for their feedback and sharing information with them regularly. Also, make good use of group events and try to inspire word-of-mouth recommendations from their acquaintances. Remember to use such communication methods as the Internet, email, multimedia, word-of-mouth, social events, and peer gatherings.
- Gen Y (1982-2000)
Also referred to as Millennials or “echo boomers,” they are the children of Boomers, currently ages 13 to 31. Their lives are impacted by a weak economy and in many cases over-protective “helicopter” parents. As a result, many Gen Ys are living at home longer. Members of this generational group are attracted to brands at an early age and remain loyal. To Y-ers, a brand name means a company stands behind its product, it is of a certain quality and it is recognizable to peers.
Growing up “connected” this generation is especially responsive to Internet campaigns. They process information quickly and respond to innovative marketing approaches and advertising that uses humor or is “outside the box” encouraging companies to be continually more creative with media and promotional themes to engage this audience.
A combination of online, offline, and word-of-mouth channels works best for reaching Generation Y. Public relations tactics to create buzz is also very effective for reaching this group. Use e-mail, voice-mail, the Internet, multimedia, direct mail catalogs, magazines, college and high school newspapers, websites, school based media boards, college guides, and sponsored events. At the same time, remember that interest in television is less than any other generation.
Each and every generation has unique expectations, experiences, lifestyles, values, and demographics that influence behaviors and buying choices. At the same time, many businesses are reaching out to multi-generational consumers and trying to understand and gain the attention of diverse buyers. How do you tailor your marketing efforts to accommodate the generations?