7-minute read (1,330 words)
Many marketers use targeted marketing techniques to connect with potential customers, and one such technique is generational marketing, which uses generational segmentation in marketing communications.
Currently, the majority of target audiences falls into one of the five active generations: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z. Take a look at what each of these generations is and how you can target each of them in your marketing campaigns.
The Silent Generation
This generation was born between the mid-1920s and the mid-1940s. People from this demographic tend to be conservative, cautious and extremely aware of others. They grew up during America’s worst economic conditions — the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl — and know the value of hard work and diligent saving.
The Silent Generation grew up reading newspapers, and members of this group are still likely to read them every day. One of best ways to reach them via generational segmentation is through coupons and customer loyalty plans, as this generation is the most likely to consume print media. When using print media, be straightforward and trustworthy, and use easy-to-read font types.
Another way to reach them is through email and informative websites that contain more text than images. This generation is not too big on using social media and its members most likely use a computer rather than a smartphone, according to research.
Seniors spend a lot of their time watching TV and are likely to watch entire commercials, which younger consumers usually skip. Therefore, you can effectively use generational segmentation to reach this audience through the use of TV ads.
Born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s, Baby Boomers make up a huge portion of the American population and have an enormous impact on the economy. This generation not only redefined city living, but also started using new forms of currency to make transactions. It is among the wealthiest and the most physically-fit generations of all.
Most Baby Boomers have quickly caught onto technology. They are heavy consumers of TV and use the internet actively. To successfully reach these consumers, you should use a generational segmentation program that focuses on optimizing social media, TV ads and email marketing. This group also values telephonic and face-to-face communication. But remember, your content should be relevant, interesting and timely. Since this generation has various age groups within it, segmentation is vital, so make sure to cater to them as specifically as possible.
This generation includes individuals born between the mid-1960s and 1980. People from Generation X were born during one of the lowest birthrate periods in US history.
Generation X saw events such as the Watergate scandal and the layoffs of the 1980s, which have led them to not necessarily trust large corporations or institutions. Nevertheless, they are known to be the most hardworking generation.
If you are looking to grab the interest of this generation, you must be authentic. This generation looks for security and safety, so it’s a good idea to be honest, informative and upfront with messaging that you deliver via generational segmentation.
While Generation X tries to take full advantage of all available technology, is members also have a knack for traditional mail in the form of handwritten notes and direct mail. A digital or paper mailing list is a great strategy to reach them. Among social networking sites, Facebook is the top social media platform among this generation, so Facebook ads work quite well with them.
Commonly known as millennials, Generation Y comprises those born between 1981 and the mid-1990s. They believe in being unique and expressing themselves, and social media plays a very important role in their lives.
This is the most diverse generation of all, and is full of multitaskers and creative thinkers. Millennials are constantly coming up with new ideas and making things happen. They are used to taking in large amounts of information at a time, so it’s essential that your content stands out when using generational segmentation to reach them. Whatever and however you are advertising, be bold and confident.
Millennials are considered to be impatient, and they want their information quickly. They will swiftly lose interest in your brand or website if it is not in sync with the latest social media trends and platforms.
Millennials are also extremely peer-oriented and often seek reviews and advice from those they trust and admire. They are savvy and are always looking for the best deals — they are also very good at getting the most bang for their buck.
This is the youngest generation, accounting for people born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s (even the present day, according to some). Since most people from this generation are still kids, their habits and characteristics are still forming.
Generation Z is likely to be just as active on social media as millennials. To reach this generation, try newer platforms like Snapchat or Instagram — most Generation Z'ers consider Facebook to be for the middle-aged and too old school. However, the best way to target this generation is to target their parents, since they are often the ones making the financial decisions.
Use multiple platforms to market yourself in unique ways and stay updated on social media platforms and trends. This generation is quick to jump from one brand to another, and so you need to find ways to keep them hooked when deploying your generational segmentation program.
Pros and Cons of Generational Marketing
We live in a constantly innovating, growing and changing world, and generational marketing plays a critical role today. But like everything else, it comes with its negatives and positives.
Here are some pros of generational marketing:
- It allows you to cater to all generations. You can customize your marketing message in order to connect with people once you understand the unique circumstances and culture that shaped how these people think and behave.
- It lets you target a specific group via generational segmentation, instead of just sharing your message everywhere, thus making it cost-efficient.
- You can use it in conjunction with analytical tools in order to keep track of every user’s age and shopping behavior.
- It gives you insights into the types of media your target customers consume, and how they consume it (print, audio or online).
Now, check out some cons of generational marketing:
- Generation labels are arbitrary and not always accurate. For example, those born in 1943 and in 1964 are both technically Baby Boomers, but the culture and the upbringing that shaped them are likely to be quite different. So it can be difficult to generalize a marketing message for the entire generation.
- Most people don’t like being stereotyped. Each individual is unique and there are dozens of things that set them apart from others from their generation.
- By focusing on one specific generation, you might lose out on potential customers, as there may be those who don’t get to see your message.
- People are no longer going by the rules; for example, older people are changing careers at a later stage or even becoming entrepreneurs after retiring. So the generational rules may not always apply.
The idea is to identify which generation(s) your product or service is suitable for and then develop specific marketing strategies to target each one. This process of generational segmentation can be time-consuming, but it’s a great way to focus your attention on your customers and make them feel unique irrespective of the generation they fall within. But if you’re selling something that interests a broad age range of people, a multi-generational marketing strategy can help you to reach the young, the old and those in the middle — while still making them feel special.