Generational Marketing: Know Your Audience and Connect With Them

The generation your target audience belongs to plays a vital role in firstly, if and then, how they hear and respond. Identifying them and marketing in the right way to your audience is what generational marketing is all about. It can be the difference between going big and going home.

The latest campaign didn’t hit the right note. You were convinced it would do better.  Frustrating because you know your product is sound.  It’s great, in fact, and it will genuinely help people.  But for some reason, people just aren’t connecting with your message despite all your best efforts.

The key is simple — it all depends on whom you’re talking to and how. The generation your target audience belongs to plays a vital role in firstly, if and then, how they hear and respond. And marketing in the right way to your audience is what generational marketing is all about. It can be the difference between going big and going home.

So, if you’re starting your marketing strategy or want to refine your current one, keep reading. This article will take you through generational marketing and how to adapt to them.

Let’s dive in!

Understanding Generational Marketing

Generational, what now?!  You’ve probably heard references to Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z, and all it does is confuse you even more, piling up with all the other marketing jargon.  But generational marketing is a strategy you’re probably more familiar with than you give yourself credit for. Businesses targeting specific age groups of consumers is not such a new idea after all.

Each ‘generation’ has different needs, wants, and values, so it’s essential to tailor your marketing to appeal to different groups. Generational marketing can be used in various ways, from the concept behind a whole brand to creating targeted ad campaigns to developing new product lines.

To reach a specific generation of consumers, you need to understand what makes them tick and what they’re looking for. Only then can you develop a marketing strategy that will resonate with them.

Breaking Down and Defining the Generations

Before you understand the likes, dislikes, or characteristics of each generation and how to use them for marketing your products, you need to know and understand what generations we’re referring to. This is not an exhaustive list of all that have ever existed, but these are the ones you’ll be dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

Here are the four groups you want to understand:

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980
  • Millennials (Generation Y): Born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012

The decade you’re born in shapes your experiences, pop cultural references, and worldview significantly. Thus, successful brands must approach each audience uniquely, keeping this in mind.

Keep reading to learn how!

Blooming with Baby Boomers

These are often overlooked but represent a huge population and one that is both time and cash rich. The generation is often referred to as people who are born between 1946 to 1964 and are a generation that saw post-war development closely, with increasing affluence and housing and educational reforms.

What Do the Statistics Say?

  • A ‘baby boomer’ is more ‘emotional’ rather than logical.
  • Don’t be fooled by ages. Almost 60% of the generation is on social media, with Facebook being the top platform.
  • They appreciate slow yet information-rich videos rather than fast, graphical ones.
  • They are still more receptive to conventional TV and broadcast channels for receiving information and entertainment.

So, what does this tell you about marketing to a baby boomer?

Now, while most baby boomers use Facebook, your targeted ads may not be as helpful as you’d hope in converting them. This is because they’re using the platform to ‘reconnect’ with old pals. Short-form content will be lost amidst catch-ups and more social messaging.

To maximise Facebook for baby boomers, instead, tell them a story. This is a clever way of helping inform them about specific products or services. Use real people in your video ads to build trust with baby boomers and let them narrate information.

This generation is not impressed with the best graphics but rather with real stories told by real people.

Additionally, don’t forget to use customer service and traditional marketing to build brand recall with them. Boomers are excellent for brand loyalty.

If you convince them about the quality, value and durability of your product — you’re in. Think about it, when was the last time your mum changed her favourite brand of mascara or underwear?

Now, let’s look at how Generation Z differs from baby boomers.

Expert-ing Generation X

They also go by the name of ‘sandwich generation.’ Statistics show that Gen X can be one of the most lucrative audiences for any business.

This is because those born between 1965 to 1980 are currently at the peak of their careers, working hard and trying to live a stable life. They’re a customer for all and any product and service, key decision makers in home spending as well as in the offices.

What Do the Statistics Say?

So, what does this tell us about marketing to Gen X?

We know they have the moolah, but we also know they care about the price of a product. Thus, if you want to appeal to Gen X, focus on your pricing first. Offer discounts frequently but steer clear of the ‘cashback’ approach because they don’t view it as immediate upfront value.

Next, Gen X is always online. Not only on Facebook and Instagram but LinkedIn too. Targeting your online short-form content via ads to Gen X can be very effective. However, they are not solely online purchasers; they also purchase in-store, so decide your ad goals and spend accordingly.

Finally, appeal to nostalgia. If 75% of Gen Xers are watching videos of the past, for example, old home movies from the holidays or an old game — you know they miss their time. A marketing campaign that can take them back to these good old times is a winner!

For instance, Adidas commemorated the iconic 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs with a limited-edition line of blue BJK shoes 45 years later, with a logo and caricature, since she had worn blue Adidas shoes during the match. They included Billy Jean in the commercials and also set up a booth at the US Open tennis match, where an artist painted any shoe brought to them in the iconic BJK logo. Tennis shoe sales shot up by 20% for Adidas.

Time to look at the admired Millennials.

Meeting The Millennials

Millennials (or Generation Y) are one of the most significant populations. They are the changemakers in the world right now.  But they’re not an easy bunch to sell to. They’re aware and difficult to fool.

What Do the Statistics Say?

Now, how do you market to a millennial?

As mentioned earlier, millennials are aware. They’re scrolling through social media and often find brands there. But what people online are saying about the brand matters.

Thus, ensuring a clean presence on online review platforms like Google My Business, Trustpilot, or Quora must be prioritised. Additionally, push content that speaks of your customer reviews.

Furthermore, when it comes to content, keep it short. Most millennials prefer visual content rather than written text. They often will scroll past a long-chunky article but will indulge in a graphical illustration of the information. Here’s where your one-liner push notifications help.

Lastly, like baby boomers, millennials look for long-term associations with a brand they love – partly because they invest so much time in researching before they buy in the first place. Rewards, newsletters, online community strategies, membership models, and exclusive discounts are a winning game.

Millennials are conscious of the brand’s values and ethics. Additionally, they are open to change – which implies as much as they want to be part of your loyalty programme, you may lose a millennial if your brand isn’t keeping up with trends to be sustainable and environmentally friendly or conscious.

Now you know about the first three, let’s see what’s unique about Gen Z.

Zooming In on Gen Z

Here’s the generation that’s making all the noise today. It’s the talk of the town and the future of your business.

What Do the Statistics Say?

So, what does that tell you about marketing to this young audience?

As the youngest among the given generations, Gen Zers access social media more often than others. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply an advantage for your brand. It means more responsibility.

Gen Zers can identify the authenticity (or lack thereof) of a brand from a mile away. So, using standard, scripted marketing lingo will not work. Contrastingly, the most powerful type of content is user-generated content.

Get influencers to like and suggest your products, and you’ll capture most of the Gen Z market.

Additionally, most Gen Zers either have a side hustle or get a stable income from their parents (bank of mummy and daddy). Either way, this means their shopping preferences may remain constant. So if the price doesn’t affect them, what does?

Two things — what people say about your brand and what your brand says about its values. Millennials and Gen Zers often share this characteristic, but Gen Zers may be sterner.  Note: note what you say about your brand and its values but what others say.  Focus on getting good reviews from real people.

Gen Z is also more socially conscious and environmentally responsible. You see, Zara and H&M are both fast fashion brands. However, H&M is more conscious about what they put out into the market – that is, how their activities and products may increase landfill dumping or lead to more waste generation, overall. H&M’s focus on sustainability, social responsibility, and better pricing, puts them at the top for Gen Zers.

And voila! You now know enough to start generational marketing for your target audience.

Wrapping It Up

Despite the changing nature of consumer behaviour, some characteristics remain constant among generations.

Understanding generational marketing helps you appeal better to your prospects.  You’ve now got a better understanding of the four key generations you should know about for your business. However, remember that while we’ve talked in very generic terms today, these characteristics are ‘common’ but not set in stone.

They may apply to generations as a whole, but that does not mean that every Gen Z shops at H&M, every millennial uses Facebook the most or every baby boomer is wary of graphical ads and illustrated narratives. There are always outliers in a cohort that don’t fit into the mould – that is, after all, human nature, we’re all different and individual. A robust and successful marketing strategy is based on research and a diplomatic approach that makes both the typical as well as the not-so-typical buyer feel welcome.

If you’re confused about how to get started with targeted marketing, we’re here for you. Get in touch today to shake things up with your strategy!