With millennials and Gen Z becoming older and older, they’re making more purchasing decisions. As they start their own jobs, build their own families, and start buying a wide range of consumer goods, companies need to recognize them as primarily consumers.
This means they need to be appropriately targeted in marketing. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done.
Different generations prioritize different things. A campaign that attracts Baby Boomers probably won’t be successful among Gen. Z. No matter how well your marketing is done, people in those two different groups just aren’t making purchasing decisions the same way.
However, if you want to appeal to various generations, you need to understand each one.
Who are the Different Generations?
Naming and grouping generations has been a tradition that’s been done for years. While each generation can include large ranges of individuals, they’re connected by events and the shape of society when they were born and as they grow up.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the generations around today and who they are.
Traditionalists (Silent Generation)
A Traditionalist (may also include the G.I. generation) was born between 1900 and 1945, living through the Great Depression and World War II. They were alive during the invention of vaccines and have an incredible disciplined and loyal personality. They often live in the suburbs and probably worked at the same place for most of their life.
Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They’re typically the children of Traditionalists and have been raised to value hard work. They’ve lived through, and maybe served during Vietnam, and saw the Moon Landing happen. They also are the generation of mass protests, including civil and women’s rights.
Gen X is a relatively small group, born between 1965 and 1976. They’re independent. They saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of MTV, and the AIDs epidemic.
Millennials were born between 1977 and 1997. They’ve grown up with the rise of technology, including social media sites and easy access to information, including through Google and other platforms. They also were young, or even not yet born, during the 9/11 attacks. They’re confident and independent and they value diversity and community service.
Those born after 1997 are considered Gen Z. They don’t know a life without technology and many of them were raised with social media, YouTube, and other online platforms. They’re into video games, apps, and mobile devices. While many of them are young, they’re also incredibly involved in politics and community service.
The generations are each at different stages in life, but they also value and prioritize different things. In order to appeal to them through marketing –especially younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials – you need to understand the things that are important to them.
How to Understand Generational Characteristics
There are many different characteristics, life events, or perspectives that shape the decisions these different generations make. If you want to market to those individuals, you need to understand them.
Let’s go through some of the characteristics you need to identify in your customer targets, and how you can use this knowledge to improve your marketing.
Understanding the events that helped shape a generation is important for understanding their values or expectations. For example, knowing that Boomers have lived through civil rights movements can impact the decisions they make.
For millennials, 9/11 is one of those impactful events. The technology boom is also a huge factor. The 2008 financial crisis is another significant event for this group.
Impactful events for Gen Z include technology as well, but not at the same level as for millennials. Gen Z has grown up with technology always being there, so expectations are high. They’re also living in an age of school shootings, terrorist attacks, and LGBTQ rights movements.
Childhood and Family Life
Family life is another big influence on how the generations purchase. Older generations, including Traditionalist and their Boomer children, have dealt with the Great Depression – a period of very difficult times followed by prosperity. They also had children early in their adult lives.
Millennials, on the other hand, are delaying marriage and children. While some are in their late 30s, many are still feeling the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis. They might have high student loans that they’re trying to pay off before starting a family of their own.
Most of Gen Z is too young to be thinking about families of their own. However, they typically grew up with parents who were active in philanthropy and civil rights. They also had access to the internet growing up, making it easy for them to get involved in things that matter to them.
How to Successfully Market to Multiple Generations
Growing Your Market Share Across Every Generation it’s important to use these different pieces in your marketing plans when trying to reach multiple generations. While you probably can’t create one campaign that appeals to each group, you can consider all of their unique needs and help target them individually.
When it comes to millennials and Gen Z, focus your marketing efforts on technology. Both groups are heavily invested in philanthropy, community service, and improving the world. Show how your products or services can contribute to that idea.
Things like interactive events can appeal to them as well. Consider how they might interact with your brand on different platforms and devices. When you create a cohesive and comprehensive plan that moves your customers through different channels, you can be sure to target them exactly where they’re looking for you.
However, it’s also important to consider how these needs might change in the future. Both millennials and Gen Z are used to things changing, and as new pieces of technology are developing, both generations will be sure to adapt. Keep your marketing strategies relevant to appeal to these groups.