Generational Marketing: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

different generations of a family lined up

To craft marketing messages that resonate with different types of people, you must understand generational marketing and what it means to your strategy.


As marketers, we understand the importance of segmenting an audience and tailoring the marketing message accordingly. We do this because there is no such thing as a universal marketing strategy that is effective at reaching everyone. Different messages resonate with different people.


What do generational traits have to do with segmenting an audience and creating meaningful, action-evoking messages? More than you may think. If you want to disseminate marketing messages that resonate with different types of people, it’s time you started using generational marketing as a key strategy for segmenting your audience and creating impactful marketing materials. 


What is generational marketing?


As the name suggests, generational marketing is a way of marketing to specific age demographics based on the defining characteristics that distinguish them from other generations. The life experiences of each generation impact who they are and how they spend. So, instead of distributing mass marketing messages and waiting to see who responds, you instead customize messages for specific age groups with language that makes each group feel comfortable and connected. 


Generational marketing is important across the board, but it becomes even more crucial if your company is comprised of people who are of a different generation than your target market, or if your target market is shifting to another demographic. 


There are currently four generations who actively use digital media to consume information: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (or Generation Y), and Generation Z (or Digital Natives).


Let’s take a look at each generation and review the best ways to reach them with your marketing efforts.


Baby Boomers


Baby Boomers were born between the years 1946 and 1964, which puts them between the ages of 55 and 73 years old. Although most of them are getting close to retirement, many Baby Boomers choose to stay employed in some capacity to maintain a sense of personal identity.


A few generational values include community involvement, health and wellness, individual choice, and prosperity.


According to a Pew Research study in 2016, Baby Boomers are embracing the use of modern technology, with 61% of Americans aged 50-64 actively on Facebook. That said, they still enjoy reading the newspaper and receiving direct mail, so these avenues are effective marketing opportunities.


Generation X


Generation Xers were born between the years 1965 and 1980, which makes them anywhere from 39 to 54 years old. This is the smallest generation and often referred to as the bridge between Baby Boomers and Millennials. They use technology for convenience’s sake, such as online bill paying, rather than a foundational component of their social lives. 


This generation is believed to be “status-oriented,” and they place a high value on contribution, recognition, autonomy, and independence. They tend to have little confidence in organizations and institutions, especially since they witnessed happenings such as the Challenger disaster and the Clinton-Lewinski scandal. 


When devising your marketing messages to this generation, lean into their desire for independence and try to prove your trustworthiness to help curb their inherent skepticism. 


Millennials (Generation Y)


Millennials were born between the years of 1980 and 1994, making them 25 to 39 years old. This generation is quickly outnumbering Baby Boomers in the workplace and is known to be very entrepreneurial. They feel comfortable with rapidly advancing technologies and have little to no patience for delayed responses.


This generation is the most receptive to online purchasing and is often the main target of generational marketing. They prefer to make informed decisions when buying online and often seek the recommendations of friends, family, and online reviews. They place value on transparency, self-expression, quality of life over wealth, and their ability to impact change.


When crafting your marketing messages to Millennials, try to authentically appeal to their strong need to effect change, and make it easy for them to check reviews and read testimonials.


Generation Z


Born from 2001 and on, people in Generation Z are teenagers or younger. They’ve never lived in a world without technology and are fully versed in making purchases, conducting their social lives, reading the news, and making appointments online. They rely on the internet for almost everything, and marketers are beginning to target them with generational marketing efforts. To reach Generation Z, focus on the major social networking platforms and influencer marketing. 


Creating content for different generations can be challenging — as you can see, each generation is quite different from one another. When creating your message, try to put yourself in the shoes of each generation and view your brand through their eyes. That will help you create and send the right messages to the right people.


Have questions about reaching your target audience? Drop us a line.

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