Marketing, Strategy
March 2, 2017
Generational marketing: How to market your brand across generations
Generational marketing: How to market your brand across generations

Millennials (born 1979 – 1995) have become the most talked about generation, and now the largest group of individuals in comparison to Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) and gen Xers (born 1965 – 1980). And the emerging Generation Z (1996 -) will eventually overtake Millennials. Before you close the browser window, this is not just another article about how Millennials are misunderstood and how we can work together across generations. This is a reality check about generational marketing that when you are trying to reach a broad audience that may run across generational divides, you have to approach your strategy differently.

In a perfect world, you would be able to use one marketing strategy to reach your entire audience. If you have selected a niche audience, that may be easier, but if you plan to reach an audience with a broad age range, you need to prepare yourself for the differences in how your customers will engage with you as a brand. Each generation has various wants and needs, and those don’t usually line up.

Your core message is your foundation

Who you are as a brand shouldn’t change when you are talking to various people for your generational marketing strategy. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. However, you can tell your story in different ways based on who you are reaching.

  • Generation Z is realistic about their opportunities, and they are interested in finding ways to better themselves to create Their viewpoints are constantly shifting and refining on a daily basis.
  • Millennials strive to create more authentic personal connections with brands, so you might focus more on your values and ethical messaging. Their focus is on the here and now.
  • Gen Xers are planners. They prefer messaging that relates to their current station in life – usually family-related and future-oriented.
  • Boomers prefer messaging that is specifically targeted towards them that creates an inclusive feeling.

How many ways can you tell your story?

Not only do you need to change your approach in terms of your story’s focus, you also need to accept that how you tell the story may differ as well for generational marketing. Telling your story in different ways to appeal to different generational audiences will mean using more channels, which means you need to be able to stretch your budget further to make an impact.

Generational groups all consume content in different ways, so you need to diversify your approach if you are planning on reaching across the divide.

  • Gen Z has shorter attention spans as they are used to consuming content at fast rates. Because they grew up with technology, they are comfortable with simultaneous multi-screen consumption. They are also highly visual consumers, preferring images and video to long written content.
  • Millennials are always connected, especially via social media. They are constantly engaged in cross-platform content consumption, at a slower pace than Gen Z, and prefer content that is easily scannable such as listicles.
  • Gen Xers spend less time online consuming content than Millennials and they spend more time online in the mornings or on weekends.
  • Baby Boomers prefer shorter content that can be revisited throughout the week. As the first real TV generation, they also prefer visual storytelling.

All paths lead to the sale

Since all generations consume content differently, their purchase path will differ as well. One thing that doesn’t differ is the fact that most of your customers will start out their journey online. This behaviour is becoming more common even among older generations as they become more comfortable/confident with technology.

  • Gen Z is more likely to research and purchase online, preferring the convenience and ease of collaboration globally to come to a decision.
  • Millennials, while they find a lot of information online, prefer a collaborative approach among friends. They will discuss with friends and rely on influencer reviews to help make the final decision.
  • Gen Xers and Baby Boomers both research online to make a decision before purchasing in person. Unlike Millennials’ collaborative approach, research is focused on more traditional media reviews and product information.

Marketing to multiple generations isn’t impossible, but it does take a bit of extra work to run a successful generational marketing strategy. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.

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