Career & Money

Key Strategies for Marketing to Different Generations

Sherri Elliott-Yeary
By Sherri Elliott-Yeary

The most effective way to market your growing business is to customize the marketing strategy to your target customer demographics. Until a few years ago, you would have been right in thinking that differentiated marketing is for the big players with big budgets. However, that is no longer true. The internet has become the great marketing leveler, allowing growing businesses to effectively customize their approach to marketing to different generations at affordable costs.

Apart from your product itself, demographics are a major influence in buying behavior. Individuals born at different points of time have distinct preferences in what they value, how they spend their money, and what advertising channels they use. Recognizing these behavioral differences in your customers is essential for maximizing gains from your marketing spends.

There are four distinct American customer demographics:

millennial generations different marketingMillennials (Born between 1980 and 1996)

There are currently 80 million millennials. This young generation has grown up on technology will soon surpass baby boomers as the largest age group. Millennials are more educated and have more choices than any other generation before them. They are unpredictable, not always brand loyal, and are just as comfortable buying online as they are buying off the rack. If you are targeting this group:

  • Have a strong online presence, including blogs and social media
  • Adopt the latest technology trends to market to this generation
  • Ensure that the promotional e-mails are compatible for mobile viewing
  • Benefit from their impulsiveness by offering additional items for purchase at checkout

different generations generation x marketingGeneration X (Born between 1965 and 1979)

The Gen X demographic covers some 65 million Americans. This generation is an important target market because these individuals are at the peak of their earning and spending years. While they weren’t born in the internet era, the majority use smart phones and regularly access social media. This generation does not want to just follow trends/styles and is not easily convinced. When marketing to this demographic:

  • Avoid hard core sales tactics
  • Convince them of your business claims with research and customer testimonials
  • Combine traditional marketing efforts with digital promotional tools such as Facebook, e-mail marketing, and online ads

different generations baby boomer marketingBaby Boomers (Born between 1945 and 1964)

Comprising 76 million consumers, this demographic represents individuals who focused on hard work, individualism, and social activism. They value trust, loyalty, and a sense of community. Many baby boomers are retired or will be retiring soon. According to the Across the Ages report, Boomers are the most likely to be bargain hunting; nearly 28.9 percent of Boomers say they only buy clothing when it’s on sale, a larger share than any other group. Here is what you need to know about this group:

  • They will search for product information online, and through calls and e-mails
  • They place higher faith in face-to-face communication
  • They would be interested in knowing what your business stands for
  • Discounts and bargain deals will appeal more to this demographic than any other generation

different generations traditionalists marketingTraditionalists (Born between 1922 and 1944)

Also known as “The Silent Generation,” this category has 50 million consumers. This generation displayed tremendous resolve to overcome the impact of the Great Depression and World War II.  They seek value for money, comfort, and a sense of belonging. Many of them are active seniors and do not like to be regarded as ‘old or dependent’.

  • They are the least likely to make an impulsive purchase
  • Target them with traditional marketing tools such as flyers, newsletters and postcards, although keep in mind that some of them will use the internet to search for information
  • The promotional material should be in larger font for ease of reading
  • Use grammar and language that they will appreciate
  • Use a single image (one that conveys emotions) rather than a collage

Customizing marketing campaigns as per customer demographics is one way to appeal to your customers. As a smaller business, every customer contact offers you the unique opportunity to ask valuable customer research questions like “Have you tried this product before?,” “Did you like the product?” and, “When do you use this product the most?” Knowing more about your customers will help you design products /services attuned to their needs and lifestyle choices.

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