One of the most critical components of any marketing strategy is identifying your target audience and the most effective strategies to reach them. The days of placing TV, radio and print ads to generate sales while building a brand are fading as digital marketing and advertising spending continues to grow exponentially. There has never been a time in our history when each generation must be marketed to in such distinct ways.
I’ve worked with many clients over the years who had previously taken a “one size fits all” approach to marketing, which is the least effective way when marketing to a multi-generational audience.
As you can imagine, marketing to Baby Boomers, individuals born between the years of 1946 to 1964, is vastly different than marketing to Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 2000. In fact, multi-generational marketing has been identified by many marketing professionals as one of the top marketing trends.
Consider the following when creating a multi-generational marketing strategy:
Generation Y “Millennials”
The last few years you’ve most likely seen a significant increase in news stories about Millennials entering the workforce, along with the values and drivers that motivate them. From a marketing perspective, Millennials are a critical audience to reach because they’re one of the most lucrative market segments. Within a few years, if not already, they’ll be consumers with the most spending potential.
Among the values that resonate most with this generation are corporate social responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion. So your marketing efforts should be consistent with these themes when developing campaigns for them. Most importantly, Millennials are very adept with the internet and emerging technologies. As a result, the most effective ways to reach them are texting, email and social media.
Just as important, one of the outcomes of the digital age is that Millennials have a tendency to have short attention spans. Consequently, your messaging to them should be direct and succinct.
Generation X (Born 1965 – 1980)
Generation X is the best educated age demographic to date. They’re productive, want flexible hours and are technically competent.
Similar to Millennials, Gen X embrace technology, but they’re more likely to use the internet to gather information and social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook more frequently than Twitter and Pinterest. Email and texting are also effective ways to reach this audience.
One of the most effective ways to see what influences Gen X buying behaviors, along with many of the other generations, is using tracking tools such as Google Analytics. This tool shows, on a real-time basis, what’s working and not with engaging your customers through ads, websites, apps, emails, call centers, field sales teams and more. It also provides age, race and other demographics that are critical to your marketing outreach efforts.
Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)
Baby Boomers are well-established in their careers and hold many leadership positions in their respective organizations.
Boomers have a tendency to either embrace technology or shun it. To ensure you successfully reach this audience, you’ll want to consider using a hybrid marketing approach such as traditional marketing (e.g. brochures, TV and radio advertising) blended with social media. According to Pew Research, 65% of adults ages 50-64 used social networking sites, with the vast majority engaging with Facebook to revive “dormant” relationships.
Additionally, Baby Boomers continue to trail both Gen Xers and Millennials on most measures of technology adoption, but rates for this group has been growing rapidly in recent years. For instance, Boomers are now far more likely to own a smartphone than they were in 2011 (67% now versus 25% then.)
One last note: Baby Boomers are staying in the workforce longer than previous generations and serve as influencers for younger generations.
Veterans (Born 1922 – 1945)
Veterans prefer face-to-face communication rather than emails and texts. Their work is consistent and uniform, and they are slow to embrace change. As a result, traditional marketing is the best way to reach them rather than a digital approach.
Although Americans have become more technologically savvy, it’s important to recognize that each generation that you’re targeting has been influenced by different things, so using a wide range of marketing tactics to reach your audiences is critical. As marketers, we must embrace digital marketing and agility to gain a competitive edge.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that Generation Z, individuals born 1981 to 2000, are starting to enter the workforce and the marketing tactics that will work most effectively for them may vary from the previous generations.
According to the Department of Labor, Generation X and Y combined will comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce in 10 years. This cohort is multicultural, socially liberal and values privacy. So, Marketers beware and be prepared!