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How Marketing Differs for Different Generations

Nov 7, 2016, 14:56 PM | Published under Internet Marketing by Michael Hodgdon

There’s no denying that generation gaps can create barriers between the young and the old, the Baby Boomers and Gen X, the traditionalists and the progressives. But for marketers, strategizing based on age group can prove to be tricky. As technology improves, more generations are becoming multi-platform. But Millennials are far more Internet-savvy than their Baby Boomer counterparts, and so you must market according to their needs. There is no “one size fits all” in marketing, and age really is more than just a number. So what techniques can you employ to make sure you hit the sweet spot with each generation?

Millennials (Generation Y) and Generation Z

It’s no surprise that Millennials and their successors, Generation Z, indulge in all things technological. Born between the years 1981 and 1995, Millennials have grown up in an age where mass media met the possibilities of the Internet, thereby creating the multi-platform mentality. Millennials and Zs are well accustomed to the inner workings of the world wide web and have a robust online presence. If your brand is targeted at these generations, always keep your eyes open for the latest technology and online trends. Even if you’re not paying attention, they certainly will be.

GenerationsIn addition to being tech savvy, Millennials and Generation Z are independent. They are socially and environmentally conscious, but not always brand loyal. To reach this fledgling market, utilize online social media campaigns to create a buzz. Millennials and the Zs love to be involved, so encourage user participation via a comments section or an up-to-date blog to keep users engaged. They want useful information. Short and to the point is the way to go. Also, keep your mobile marketing strategies top notch: Millennials and Zs are more attached to their smartphones than any other generation. And--for your benefit--Millennials are known to shop on impulse more than any other generation. So, placing an ad at just the right time is imperative. If you become a brand they trust, there’s a good chance they’ll want to try out more of your products as well.

Generation X

Generation X is born between the years 1965 and 1980. Unlike the Millennials and Gen Z, the Gen X group are more financially stable. Their earnings exceed their expenditures, and they’re definitely more on the conservative end of the spending spectrum. . Convincing a Gen X to buy your products is easier said than done. Gimmicky, in-your-face sales tactics will only detract from your goals. Rather, Generation X has an affinity for “honest” marketing approaches i.e.: testimonials and research. Generation X can be reached via traditional and online marketing platforms. Though not as integrated with social media and mobile usage as the Millennials, Generation X is very active on Facebook. Generation X relies on email, many using it as a means of daily communication in both a professional and personal setting. Generation X was also known as the MTV generation. Growing up in a time where mass media became the norm, the MTV generation, so named after the popular Music Television Network, consumed hours of network television, cable television, and radio. Implementing a marketing strategy that uses multiple platforms is the best way to engage Generation X. Just be mindful that you are not over-selling your brand.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers value prosperity, ownership, hard work, individualism, and loyalty. Many Boomers grew up in the age of a social revolution (amidst the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War) and are keen to stick with a brand that shares their social values and a sense of community. Most Boomers have recently retired or will be retiring in a few years. Bargains and discounts go a long way with this generation, and many will only buy when an item is on sale. Though not as involved in technology and social media as Generation X, the Millennials, or Generation Z, the Baby Boomers use the Internet to conduct product research and hunt for the best deals. The true value of your product or service, if it meets their needs, is even more important than a bargain. Unlike the Millennials, Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face interaction. They will not hesitate to email or call a representative to get their questions answered. Online advertising may have some effect on the shopping habits of this generation, but traditional marketing via cable and network television and radio advertisements will have greater impact.

The Silent Generation

Born in the mid-1920s to 1945, the Silent Generation are the traditionalists that have had to overcome financial hardships like The Great Depression and World War II. They value their earnings, having worked so hard to attain them. They are independent. This generation takes time to buy and is the least likely to shop on impulse. Traditional marketing is the best way to reach out to this generation. Newsletters, flyers, radio advertisements, and network television advertisements will hook the Silent Generation far more than any social media marketing campaign ever could. One image that evokes emotion is far more effective than a “more is better” approach. Simple design, large font, and straightforward messages will help them understand your product or service and its value to them.

No matter which generation you’re trying to reach, there are many ways to go about marketing your brand. Though Millennials and Generation X are more in tune with online marketing and social media than the Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation, a multi-faceted approach is a more effective way to engage your audience. Understanding the values of your target demographic will help you to steer your marketing campaign in the right direction. 

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About the Author

Mike is the Marketing & SEO Director at Infront Webworks. An online entrepreneur since 1997, he has owned or run website design / SEO, online marketing and internet advertising companies for over 15 years. Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Colorado Springs Business Journal and with projects featured in N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, he has a solid track record of successful online undertakings. He is a certified Yext Partner, Google Certified in Analytics, Tag Manager, AdWords, Online Display Advertising, Shopping and Video Advertising.

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