You’ve probably heard the old saying, "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time." This sentiment is spot-on in terms of contemporary marketing. Creating campaigns that speak to everyone is hard, but targeting specific groups can be extremely effective. One smart way to reach out to people is through generational marketing.
What Is Generational Marketing?
Generational marketing means tailoring ad campaigns to certain generations, such as the Baby Boomers or Millennials. It can also involve ad campaigns designed to appeal to all generations by using visuals, scenes, or elements that cater to each.
How Do You Use Generational Marketing?
Do you love your current client base and want to stamp your brand onto their memories forever? If so, you may want to learn how old your clients are so you can market to their specific age group. You can also use generational marketing to expand your current client base. For example, if Gen X is already excited about you, try casting your net a bit wider with marketing that appeals to their Gen Z kids or Baby Boomer parents.
Appealing to Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers are the large generation of people born in the two decades after World War II. This cohort enjoyed unprecedented economic growth during their working lives. Now, ranging in age from their early 50s to early 70s, they’re just starting to enjoy retirement. Boomers are retiring with unprecedented levels of wealth, and, contrary to popular belief, they’re pretty tech-savvy.
To reach this group, your marketing needs to strike a health-centric, pro-independence note. As they traded recliners for mountain bikes, this generation made 50 the new 30, and you need to meet them on that level. Looking for them online? Try Facebook. But don’t forget this generation also likes traditional media, such as newspapers, radio, and TV, more than most other age groups.
Marketing to Gen X
Sandwiched between the Millennials and Baby Boomers, Gen X is an oft-overlooked generation including people born from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. The older folks in this generation enjoyed the financial stability of their Boomer counterparts, while the younger ones identify more with Millennials. Fiercely rebellious, Gen Xers define themselves through flicks such as "The Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off," and "Clerks." They struggled to gain hold financially as the 2000-2002 tech bust and 2008 housing crash buffeted them about. On average, they also have a lot of debt compared to their earnings. But that doesn’t diminish their spending power. This middle-age group is buying homes, setting up retirement funds, and making countless other buying decisions. To reach them, appeal to their value-driven side. And remember: They aren’t adults like their parents. They turned casual Fridays into casual every-days, and they pride themselves on being hip and rebellious.
The Millennials are arguably the most studied generation ever. Digital natives born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are highly educated, resourceful, and innovative. On the one hand, some perceive them as irresponsible, as they moved back in with their parents en masse after college. On the other hand, they invented social media, made countless tech-forward businesses, and lead the charge on numerous social issues. Millennials are savvy consumers.
Millennials don’t fall for gimmicks, and they want advertisers to be transparent. To reach this generation, your marketing needs to tell an authentic story, and it needs to be personalized for them. Keep in mind, they’ve never had to spend hours listening to the radio waiting for their favorite song. They’ve always been able to find what they want online, and they use services to hand-pick things that suit their personal tastes. They expect that same level of attention from your marketing.
What About Gen Z?
The post-Millennials, iPod Generation, or Gen Z — whichever you prefer — consists of kids born in the late 1990s and beyond. Although they’re young, this generation likes value. Many of them saw their parents struggle, and, because they largely don’t have jobs, they’ve had to learn how to create a value-focused pitch to convince their parents to buy. This generation is always on the newest social media platform. They watch more YouTube than TV and have an eight-second attention span.
To reach them, you have to be entertaining and fast. But here’s a tip: They’re easy to influence. An endorsement from their favorite vlogger or sports star is a great place to start. Alternatively, get the Millennials to like your product, and these kids will follow suit.
To kick off your generational marketing efforts, it helps to start with data. Find out who’s using your products, watching your ads, and visiting your website, and then use those insights to guide the specifics of your campaign. Most importantly, whether you want to reach the youngsters of Gen Z, their Baby Boomer grandparents, or the Millennials in between, you need to talk to them in their language. If you hit the right note, the results can be spectacular.