Tips for Marketing to Each Generation

Demographics are an essential piece of marketing, and with longer lifespans, we have a lot more generational demographics living simultaneously. This makes reaching your target demographic a lot more important and at the same time, a lot more difficult. Being confident you are using the right channels, the right language, and overall the right approach is a lot more problematic with so many overlapping audiences in the same space.

So how do you go about reaching your target generational demographic, and avoiding the cluttered approach of “overall” marketing? Well, we’ve got a few tips for you.

Silent Generation

The Silent Generation, born between 1927 & 1945, are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s right now. They grew up in a time that defined many of the core values of the American home and culture. They lived in a time before civil rights and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. They are all about community, conformity and commitment.

Where to Reach:
They can be reached through the classic outlets of advertising, newspaper and television. Some of this group can be found online, because they do use social media to keep in touch with old friends and family, but usually not on mobile devices.

What to Say (Messaging):
With the Silent Generation, focus your messaging on spending time with family, especially grandchildren. Enjoying time as family and building a legacy are of grave importance to them. Making sure you portray them accurately is key. Using a mix of text and lifestyle photos is the way to go, on print ads in the mail or in a newspaper. Just remember to use a large font.

Baby Boomers

The oh-so-popular Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are between their early 50s and early 70s. The generation of rock & roll, Woodstock, and being raised by “the tube” is still one of the largest. They are known to be less about community and more about self, and was one of the first generations to have multiple divorces.

Where to Reach:
Like the Silents, Boomers can be reached through traditional means of advertising like newspapers, radio, and television. Even with the learning curve of technology, they still use the internet as a source of news, so reaching them on news outlets is a key channel.

What to Say (Messaging):
First rule of Baby Boomers -they are not “old.” So, don’t imply that they are. Considering their mentality, speaking to the appeal of self-fulfillment, and of enjoying their lives with any excess time and money they have, is key. They also want to protect their income in the hope they can pass it on to their children, but for now they will enjoy the child-free autonomy they have.

Generation X

Known as the middle child of the living generations, Generation X-ers were born between 1965 and 1980, and are in their late 30s to mid-50s. Being raised in a transitional period of changing household lifestyles and drastic changes in technology, they are used to constant transformation and have adapted to living fluidly because of it. They are more willing the change jobs, relationships, and even social and political views.

Where to Reach:
Gen X is a bit more tech-savvy than their preceding generation. They transitioned into the work force as the computer became a common office tool, so they know technology well enough to be reached through it – especially through social media. They do check their mail and email frequently, so do take advantage of the attention that email and snail mail get on a daily basis. It can be a real advantage.

What to Say (Messaging):
They are also the material generation, so this group of people likes brands – and they like value. Focus your message around value, but also using coupons to raise the value of the purchase. If you are reliable and fulfill your promises, they are more likely to purchase, so take advantage of positive reviews and testimonials too.

Millennials (Generation Y)

Ahh the beloved Millennials, the Echo Boomers, the 80s and 90s babies. Born between 1981 and 1998, Millennials are between the ages of 19 and 36 – the generation raised on computers, who saw the new millennium, along with 9/11 and the housing economic collapse. More focused on lifestyle than wealth, they are the generation who wants recognition and quick information.

Where to Reach:
Millennials can be found online, with a strong digital reach not just on desktop computers but on mobile devices too. They can be reached in many ways, from social media to branded content, but even with their love for digital, this generation does not often check email or even look at snail mail. They get their news, info, and entertainment from phones and computers. They can still be reached through TV, but not in the traditional sense. Streaming and online video is the way to go if you want to use video ads to reach them.

What to Say (Messaging):
This is the generation who lives for lifestyle, and they are the reason for the birth of the lifestyle brand. Showing imagery of socializing and work balance is key, and limiting copy is essential. Relating to social issues will catch their attention, and recognizing their academic work and commitment will help build rapport.

Generation Z

The generation of tomorrow, born after 1999, the oldest Gen Z-ers are just reaching 18 and 19. This younger generation never knew a world without computers and cell phones, and at an earlier age they put down their toys and picked up a tablet, a smartphone, or a computer mouse. Focused on discovery, independence, and social change, this generation is taking advantage of the technology they have at hand, even if it cannot keep their focus for too long.

Where to Reach:
Mobile online is the best way and almost the only way. Living their lives through their phones, they are very independent. They know what they want so getting to them directly is key, and their personal devices are the bridges. It is essential to make sure you are in various places, because considering the speed that the message has to be delivered, it must be reinforced multiple times.

What to Say (Messaging):
Keep it visual, video, short and sweet. Holding attention should not be the intent – simply grabbing it is good enough. They are overwhelmed with marketing and branding on the daily, so bringing value is key. Think content marketing times 10. This generation loves brand and loves eye-catching visuals. If you are going to use copy, don’t use a lot, make sure your visuals send the message, and do so clearly.

There is quite a large gap from the Silent generation to Generation Z, but as you transition across each generation between, the gaps become much smaller. So, whoever your audience is, make sure you understand where the gaps fall.

Oh, and one last tip – remember that the younger your customers get, the shorter their attention spans are, so make sure to keep that in mind. (Too long; didn’t read? We can help!)

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