If you’ve spent any time with someone from another generation, you will quickly realize how different people are depending on when they were born. For example, people from the Baby Boomer generation are much more work-oriented, while Millenials are very tech-savvy. These differences are not a bad thing though. In fact, they can be incredibly positive when people use their strengths to work together. However, these differences do pose a challenge for marketers. This is due to the fact that you cannot market all generations the same way. You can try, but no marketing tactic is effective across the board. Don’t feel discouraged by this, as you just have to refine your marketing strategy through generational marketing.
What is Generational Marketing?
Generational marketing is the marketing practice in which you change your marketing message depending on the generation you want to attract. This is done to achieve the highest possible return on investment (ROI), increase leads, and thus increase sales. When you focus on targeting everyone, you can’t use strategic marketing tactics. However, when you do focus on a specific generation, you can design a marketing message specifically around their behaviors.
Why Can’t You Market All Generations?
The concept of generational marketing came about as soon as marketers realized different generations respond to different marketing messages. For example, you couldn’t rely on brand loyalty to keep sales with Millenials, as they are known to be the least loyal generation. However, you could heavily rely on brand loyalty with Baby Boomers, as loyalty is a quality they are known for. Not to mention, different generations are on entirely different platforms.
If you try to target all generations at once, there is a strong chance your marketing is not as effective as it could be. You will be too broad with your language and your marketing tactics. So, it is best to figure out which generations you will target specifically. Then, you can create different marketing messages to target each generation. This will be much more effective and can generate more leads.
How to Market Each Generation
The idea of generational marketing is to create a different message behind each generation. But, in order for this marketing tactic to be effective, you need to know how to target each generation. You need to learn the behaviors, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses of your audience’s generation. This will help you have the most effective generational marketing strategy possible.
Find Out Which Generations Your Target Audience Is
To begin, you must know which generations your target audience falls into. Some of your target audience may fall on the cusp of a generation, which means they will likely share qualities of both generations. Also keep in mind that different sources claim generations start in different years. According to Purdue University Global, generations are defined by the following years:
- Traditionalist/Silent Generation: 1925-1945
- Baby Boomer Generation: 1946-1964
- Generation X: 1965-1980
- Millennial Generation: 1981-2000
- Generation Z: 2001-2020
To show how different sources claim the years of generations are, here is how Business Insider defines each generation:
- Traditionalist/Silent Generation: 1928-1945
- Baby Boomer Generation: 1946-1964
- Generation X: 1965-1980
- Millennial Generation: 1981-1996
- Generation Z: 1996-?
There is always a great deal of conversation around where the Millennial generation stops and where Generation Z starts. This is likely because there are many similarities between the two as they both grew up around technology. With that being said, the exact birth year of your target audience will not make a large difference with your generational marketing. So, get an idea of where your target audience falls, and see how to market them below.
The Traditionalist/Silent Generation
The Traditionalist Generation, also known as the Silent Generation, is the oldest generation today. If you are targeting this generation, you likely own a service-based business that helps people make their lives easier. This could be anything from landscaping to at-home nursing services. Or, you may sell products that promote health and a better quality of life.
Most Traditionalists agree that being a hard worker is one of the most important qualities someone can have. They are incredibly loyal to the companies they work for and spend money with. Additionally, Traditionalists value stability, as they did not grow up having it through World War II and the Great Depression. This generation is tough as nails, and deserve respect, which they know. When you show Traditionalists the respect they deserve, they will value your relationship with them greatly.
How to Practice Generational Marketing For Targeting Traditionalists
Now that you know the generalizations of the Traditionalist or the Silent Generation, it is time to craft a marketing plan around them. The best thing to do is to use word-of-mouth marketing and paper marketing for this generation. If you know someone in the Traditionalist generation, you likely know they have regular coffee dates and card game (such as bunco) parties. They also likely read the newspaper or magazines. These are their preferred marketing channels. Although this is what marketers call “Old Age” marketing and advise against it, these tactics are necessary when targeting the Traditionalists.
Some say Traditionalists are “old-fashioned” as they value older traditions such as thank-you notes and face-to-face conversations. However, these are great traditions that have been lost, largely due to technology. But, this can be a great way to stand out from competitors. You can deliver your products with a handwritten note, thanking them for their business. Additionally, you can set aside time to talk with them on the phone directly. This will likely encourage positive word-of-mouth marketing and will increase your referrals.
The Baby Boomer Generation
Baby Boomers were born post-war, after their parents were reunited, which is why there are so many of them. With that being said, their parents grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, which had a large impact on how they were raised. They also grew up during the Vietnam War, in which one of their parents likely served. So, they greatly value saving money, stability, and planning for retirement (if they haven’t already).
The Baby Boomer Generation values getting things done correctly. They want to get promotions and engage in professional development programs to broaden their skills. So, if you are targeting this generation, you may run a skincare company, doctor’s office, or any other business that provides services relating to improving your future. This is a top concern for the Baby Boomer generation.
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How to Practice Generational Marketing For Targeting Baby Boomers
According to research, Baby Boomers are online and are more technologically savvy than Traditionalists. However, they are not very technologically advanced, as home computers came out in 1977. This is not to say they haven’t adapted well. 54% of Baby Boomers have smartphones according to Hubspot. Additionally, 84% of them have a Facebook account. So, you can use Facebook to market them, although the advertisement should not be too complex. You should also have your information on your website, as Baby Boomers will check it out.
Baby Boomers, just like Traditionalists believe in brand loyalty. This is something you need to tap into when targeting them. They also enjoy efficient communication such as chatboxes and phone calls, as long as this process is truly efficient. If there are any glitches, long hold times, or other annoyances, the Baby Boomer will likely get frustrated. So, when trying to generate a sale with them, be sure your line is open and you are ready to talk with them. They will appreciate this greatly.
Generation X takes up a large percentage of the workforce at 32%. Additionally, they have been in the workforce for a long time, which means they usually hold higher positions such as senior-level managers and provide training. They generally focus on saving for retirement and are pessimistic about having enough to retire. Gen X people prefer email contact, as it is one of the online communication methods they have used the longest.
If you are targeting Gen X, you may have a real estate company, are a financial advisor, or offer services that help people save time. You may also have an online business in which you mail products to your customers. You may have a challenging time targeting people from Gen X, as most spent eight hours a day behind a desk.
How to Practice Generational Marketing For Targeting Generation X
An excellent marketing channel for Generation X is Facebook, as over 80% of them have an account. They also prefer email marketing, which is important to remember. With the combination of Facebook and email marketing strategies, you can target Gen X easily. Also, 23% of all online shoppers are those from Generation X. This means you should have a business website in which you sell your products or services.
Generation X is known for its penny-pinching tendencies. Since experiencing the Great Recession, this generation has been saving as much as possible. You can use this information to your advantage and offer them discounts, coupons, and free-trials. This is a great way to get your foot in the door with Gen X consumers.
The Millennial Generation
Millennials are a widely talked about generation. They have many defining characteristics that are very accurate. For one, millennials appreciate speedy services. They expect to find information quickly and easily. This is because they grew up with technology easily accessible, oftentimes at home. They also can be known as impatient and easily bored, as they grew up with multiple options for entertainment.
If you target millennials, you likely have an online brand, products that are sustainable, or services that help them enjoy a work-life balance. All of these things are services the Millennial generation enjoys investing in. If your company makes their life easier or gives them a sense of balance, you can target them.
How to Practice Generational Marketing For Targeting Millennials
Millennials are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even TikTok. So, the best way to reach them is through social media. They understand the ins and outs of social media platforms, which means you can use more complex social media marketing strategies such as forms or direct messaging.
It’s important to note that Millennials spend about $2,000 on online purchases each year. So, if you are targeting millennials, you need to have a website. However, your website needs to load quickly so you don’t lose their attention. You should also consider investing in a customer service feature that offers texting, as they value this greatly. Millennials don’t hesitate to invest their money in services they value. So, provide a valuable service that benefits them, and you are golden.
The most confusing generation to define is Generation Z. Most sources conflict on where Gen Z starts. However, they are very similar to Millennials. Growing up with cell phones, tablets, and home computers, this generation is always online. In fact, most Gen Z people will admit they have a cell phone addiction. But, they do love to learn and work with technology, as it is second nature to them. Gen Z people prefer to work for Millennials, as they help them maintain a work-life balance.
If you target Gen Z people, you likely provide products or services geared towards younger people. Many Gen Z people are just now entering the workforce or are in college. With that being said, your business can help them make the transition into the “adult world” more seamless, your business will be helpful to them.
How to Practice Generational Marketing For Targeting Generation Z
Just like Millennials, Gen Z is on almost every social media platform. Social media is a great marketing channel to use when trying to connect with Gen Z people. However, many younger Gen Z kids do not have Facebook. So, focus on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok for them. Despite this tendency to be online at all times, 53% of Gen Z people prefer face-to-face contact.
When targeting Generation Z, remember they get easily distracted. In fact, the attention span of someone in Gen Z in only eight seconds. So, you have to capture their attention quickly and keep it. Or, you will need to engage in retargeted advertising to get their attention again. When targeting Gen Z, you will need a lot of patience. Also, be transparent and ethical when working with them, as they will no longer work with you if they sense you are hiding something.
Practicing Generational Marketing
Now that you know the differences between generations and what each prefers, you are more prepared to practice generational marketing! If you ever get stuck trying to shape your marketing message towards a generation, think about someone you know in that generation. Ask yourself, “Would my grandpa respond to this?” Or, “Would my dad buy this?” Asking yourself these questions will help you greatly when targeting a specific generation.
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