Understanding What Has Influenced Each Generation
Generational marketing is a dynamic approach that tailors advertising and content strategies to meet the distinct preferences, values, and behaviors of different generational groups. Understanding the unique characteristics of each generation can unlock the potential for businesses to connect more effectively with their target audiences.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that often generations have more in common than they think. The purpose of generational marketing is not to create a divide between generations. Generational marketing is about demonstrating the emotional intelligence to understand that people are shaped by the influences of the world as it was when they were growing up.
For example, the first generation to have the Web during college was the millennial generation. This does not mean that consumers from older generations can’t be as comfortable with technology. However, it may mean that they lean more towards in-store shopping.
In today’s consumer market, four major generations stand out: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are a generation that values traditionalism and brand loyalty. They tend to prefer in-store shopping experiences, relishing the tactile and personal connection with products. Baby Boomers may be less inclined to make purchases on social media platforms but are more likely to engage in email marketing promotions and enjoy print advertisements. For them, it’s about trust and the reliability of established brands.
1965 - 1980
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, seeks a balance between tradition and modern convenience. They are more open to online shopping and are active on social channels. They appreciate content that speaks to their independence and self-reliance. Gen Xers are open to a mix of email marketing and online ads, but they value authenticity in brands.
1991 - 1996
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are the digital natives of the consumer market. They predominantly engage in online shopping, including making purchases through social media platforms. Millennials value brands that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. They respond well to personalized email marketing campaigns and are heavily influenced by user-generated content and online reviews.
1996 - 2009
Generation Z, born after 1996, represents the tech-savvy and socially conscious generation. They are digital shoppers who prefer online transactions and are more likely to trust peer recommendations over traditional advertisements. For Gen Z, authentic, concise, and visually appealing content, especially on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, resonates the most.
Generational marketing is not intended to lead to stereotypes or oversimplification
Generational marketing is not intended to lead to stereotypes or oversimplification, nor to negate what the Pew Research Center recently stated in March 2023 in their announcement, “How Pew Research Center will report on generations moving forward.”
It’s extremely important that marketers are not positioning generations against each other, or conveying that one is better than the other. There’s a fine line between respecting generational differences and drawing conclusions based purely on a person’s age. For example, not every Baby Boomer doesn’t understand tech and not every Millennial enjoy social media.
Rather then resorting to generational stereotypes, focus on the influences that were at play in the world when that person was coming of age. For example, neither the Baby Boomers or Generation X had the World Wide Web to access during their college years.
Be aware, emotionally intelligent and respectful, but try not to allow implicit bias or preconceived notions to impact your marketing messages.