Generational Marketing is defined as marketing strategies and tactics that are designed to appeal to market segments defined by the generational groups. Those groups are:
- G.I. Generation (Pre-Depression) – 1900-1924
- Silent Generation (Depression) – 1925-1945
- Baby Boomers – 1946-1964
- Generation X – 1965-1979
- Generation Y (Millennials) – 1980-2000
- Generation Z (Generation 911, iGen) – 2001-present
The different generations have differences in:
- Communication styles
- Preferred marketing channels
- Products and services they are interested in
By tailoring your messages and using the appropriate channels, specifically to the generations you are target, you will see benefits, such as:
- Ease of building relationships
- Gaining of trust
- Increased return on investment, as it’s easier to close business
The generation into which you were born, has great influence:
- Who you are
- What you value
- What your beliefs are
- Your life skills
- What you prefer to buy
However, there are other factors that can also have an impact on generational characteristics. The Hartman Group states, “Pure generational marketing is delusional if it assumes a generation will be homogeneous in outlook or behavior.” They feel there are broader influences that affect a generation and that historical influence actually wans after the age of 10. Other factors they feel should be considered are:
- Economic level of your parents (wealth or poverty)
- Small town vs. big city residence
- Republican or Democrat
- The part of the country you were raised
- Single or two-parent home
Obviously, those factors do play a part, but we are all affected by the generation into which we were born. Those in the GI and Silent Generations were affected by World War I, World War II and the Korean War. They did not have the luxury of electrical conveniences like telephones, radios, refrigerators or lights. They faced health threats such as polio and smallpox, while at the same time witnessed medical miracles as they aged.
The Boomers witnessed social movements for civil rights, Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination and Woodstock. They also became the generation that symbolized time poverty, as many of them are workaholics and are sandwiched between taking care of children and taking care of parents.
Generation X was the latchkey generation and were raised to be very independent as both parents were in the workforce. They also grew up with AIDS, divorce, drug addiction and recessions.
Generation Y (Millennials) – think of community, affluence and technology. They tend to be civic-minded and ecologically aware, but grew up with the OJ Simpson trial, Columbine shootings, Gulf War and corporate greed. This generation, more than the others, craves peer recognition and acceptance.
Generation Z (Generation 911 or iGen) is the first generation to be born entirely in the internet era. Their involvement with digital technology at an early age has made them generally resistant to advertising. They are over protected because of Amber alerts, kidnappings, school shootings and terrorism, and have a strong sense of right and wrong.
So you can see that each generation has its differences and because of that will require a different marketing focus to be truly successful. Use segmentation to target your message appropriately. And, try to use words and phrases that can span the generations, such as:
- Career success
Your marketing goal is to generate loyalty within your target base. To help you do that, generational marketing can help you to appeal to each generation’s specific attitudes, values, beliefs and marketing preferences. For those marketers who understand the value in segmentation, they will likely generate more business and build a more loyal client base.
You can read an interesting article on the dilemma Las Vegas finds itself in and how they are considering generational marketing to solve it.
Resources: Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, “Marketing to the Generations”; “Multi-Generational Marketing: Descriptions, Characteristics, Lifestyles and Attitudes” by Kaylene C. Williams and Robert A. Page of Southern Connecticut State University and Alfred R. Petrosky and Edward H. Hernandez of California State University.