One of the biggest challenges faced by brands is understanding what drives their target audience. Different generations and demographic cohorts think and behave differently, which in turn affects the way they consume.
Segmentation based on generational demographics can provide useful insights, which build a strong foundation for designing and analysing personalised marketing campaigns. But, it may be short-sighted to base your marketing solely on these findings.
A well-rounded marketing strategy goes further. It investigates the intricate needs and wants of your audience, taking into account other factors such as a rapidly changing economic climate. Thorough research into the livelihood and experiences of your target audience will further help you tailor your messaging.
Generational marketing shouldn’t be your only consideration, and stereotypes can be damaging as well as counterproductive. However, generational targeting does provide a strong foundation for designing and analysing personalised marketing campaigns. Other factors like gender, location, occupation, income status, interests, hobbies and behaviours shouldn’t be ignored either.
Here’s our detailed breakdown of each generational cohort, and the defining characteristics which make each one so unique.
The Silent Generation
The Silent Generation is born between 1928 -1945. Today, they’re 80+ of age and likely to be retired- either taken care of by their family, or in assisted living homes. Their money is spent on medical bills and basic supplies. Baby boomers are likely to be responsible for their estate, thus this generation can be reached via their children.
The Baby Boomers
Average age: 58+
Life stage: Adult to late adulthood, preparing for or already in retirement, potentially grandparents or possibly have kids who live out of home.
Spending power: The highest of all demographics.
Where and how to reach them: Third-party placements, display banners and advertorials in publications such as Fin24 and Business Tech. Facebook and online shopping ads. Upsell tactics work well when marketing to this cohort.
Other insights: As a post-war generation, baby boomers grew up in a time of prosperity and economic growth. Of all the generations, they hold the most purchasing power, have the most discretionary income and are the most likely to purchase items that aren’t on their shopping list. They’ve spent most of their lives without modern technology, but many have since embraced mobile devices, social media, and even online shopping.
Today, most baby boomers are empty nesters and are either retired or close to retirement. They no longer need to save money to pay for their children's education, mortgage, or family. Baby boomers might have elderly parents to care for, are possibly experiencing their kids getting married and are becoming grandparents.
While some spend freely on luxury goods, others are more frugal due to recent economic instability. They’re highly motivated by good deals, and are very brand loyal.
Baby boomers prefer to talk and engage to a real person before making a purchase. They’re the least likely to make a purchase using their smartphone, and they prefer blog articles to be 300 words or less.
Born: born 1965–1980
Average age: 42+
Life stage: Possibly parents of tweens and high schoolers, likely at the peak and well-established in their careers. Possibly homeowners, feeling pessimistic about retirement.
Spending power: Less spending power due to saving up for their kids’ higher education, less disposable income than Baby Boomers.
Where and how to reach them: E-Mail campaigns, Facebook and Twitter.
Other insights: Gen Xs are often the most overlooked cohort, being both the smallest generation, as well as the bridge between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Unlike their parents, they grew up in a recession, meaning they've been cautious with money their entire lives. They're also skeptical, meaning they trust brands and marketing efforts less than other generations.
They tend to be quite nostalgic and respond well to marketing campaigns that feature celebrities or music which they associate with their childhood. They’re extremely brand loyal- using the internet to research brands, but less likely to try new brands. They’re likely to respond well to discount and coupon codes, as well as utilise loyalty programs to redeem rewards.
Brands can capitalise on this cohort by having frequent custom shopping guides and campaigns such as Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays etc.
This cohort is juggling a lot, so reminder campaigns such as vet visits, health check-ups etc. paired with discount codes will work well.
Born: born 1981–1995
Average age: 27+
Life stage: Possibly newly married, parents to babies/toddlers/adolescents, established in their careers.
Spending power: Although not as high as the Baby Boomers, they’re the largest generation in the current workforce.
Where and how to reach them: Wide range of social media networks including LinkedIn, YouTube. Think mobile first. Millennials tend to be more comfortable communicating digitally-through DMs, e-mails, WhatsApp, etc.
Other insights: Millennials were the first generation to grow up with modern technology, and they’re the largest generation in history. This presents an opportunity for brands to market to a wider audience and build a large customer base.
They’re more likely to spend than save, and prefer value over convenience. They care about social impact, are environmentally and socially conscious and place the most importance on brand authenticity and messaging. They value word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
Millennials have a higher tendency to switch brands depending on changes in price and customer service. The best way to keep them engaged with your brand is through social media- specifically user-generated content. They’re also more likely to remain loyal to brands that donate to charitable causes and offer memorable experiences that they can share with their social media following and loved ones (think Insta-worthy moments).
Millennials consume a great deal of content and even produce some themselves. As such, they’re more easily swayed by social media influencers.
Millennials began entering the workforce as the economy crashed, and as a result, they’re said to be the largest generation of entrepreneurs. They’re the generation which shops in-store the least, and decides where to dine or go on vacation based on a brand’s Instagram photos. They do grocery shopping online, and discuss major decision purchases with those they trust.
Born: born 1996–2010
Average age: 12+
Life stage: Studying or entering the workplace
Spending power: Little spending power. Student debt is a major concern for this cohort.
Where and how to reach them: Wide range of social media networks- specifically Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
Other insights: They grew up with modern technology, and use smart phones to make purchases online. They also respond well to new innovations.
Generation Z, or Gen Z, are the most diverse and tech-savvy of all generations. While many of them are still young, they already hold a significant amount of global spending power. Due to economic uncertainty stemming from the Great Recession and the more recent COVID-19 pandemic, they value financial stability above all else and are responsible spenders.
They tend to rely more on reviews, recommendations, and social media than any other generation. The engage best with brands who are active on social media (both posting and replying). While they do experience significant stress about personal debt and look for ways to save money, they’re less likely to sign up for loyalty programs compared to Gen X. They generally prefer to shop in-store than online, and check in with their parents about a product’s affordability before making a purchase.
They’re more likely to show loyalty to companies that are environmentally and socially responsible- even more so than Millennials.
Gen Z have all but abandoned watching traditional TV, for watching movies and shows on Netflix, YouTube and other portals on their phones, laptops, tablets and smart TVs.
As mentioned before, these insights need to be used in conjunction with other demographics and data. It’s vital to create specific buyer personas based on behaviour, interests and other important factors. Some common types of buyer personas include frequent loyalty buyers, C-suite professionals, avid investors, small business owners, green living enthusiasts, luxury buyers, etc.). These personas are tailor made to your unique business and specific purchase cycle of your product or offering.
If you’re ready to create a research-driven, detailed marketing strategy that’s specific to your business, get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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