Once upon a time, in a world where the internet was non-existent, there were but two generations – young and old. But since technology weaved its way into our cultural fabric, society has been split into generational cohorts based on the period of years during which we were born, i.e. baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z.
As a marketer, it’s crucial to be aware of your target demographic and which generation they hail from. That way, you can tailor your strategies towards their tastes, interests, knowledge and background. Generational marketing is the term used for segmenting and targeting your market by specifically according to age rather than gender, location and other such variables.
But just how well do you know each generation? What age group responds best to email marketing? Who has the highest spending power? Being in a position to answer these questions brings you a richer understanding of who exactly you’re catering to, and how best to do it.
Here is a breakdown of the four generational cohorts and their key characteristics for marketers to keep in mind.
Baby boomers, a moniker which pays homage to the spike in post-war birth rates at that time, grew up without the internet and didn’t rely much on technology in their everyday lives. That being said, it hasn’t taken them long to catch on, and today many boomers are just as tech savvy as their younger relatives. According to a study by DMN3, 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email and 92% shop for products and services online rather than in person. When it comes to social media, Manifest says as many as 86% log on daily with Facebook being their preferred platform.
Baby boomers have the biggest spending power of all the generations. Since most of them are empty nesters, they need not worry about too many typical family expenses such as tuition fees and mortgages. They are more likely to spend their money on hobbies, holidays and other luxury items. But as they enter retirement and rely on their pensions, boomers tend to be concerned with value for money. They also tend to exhibit strong customer loyalty, remaining faithful to their favourite brands.
The bridge between baby boomers and millennials, Generation X experienced a relatively technology-free childhood, without the luxury of computers, mobile phones and internet. Unlike their parents, many Gen Xers lived through a period of economic recession where there was a collective emphasis on saving money. Today, this cohort has their hands full, juggling careers, homeownership and raising kids.
Generation X is making up for lost time when it comes to technology usage, having become very digitally curious in their later years. Nearly 9 out of 10 Gen X social users are on Facebook, with just under half on Instagram while Twitter and Snapchat remain the least popular with Xers. Though they grew up engaging in traditional, in-person shopping, this cohort tends to embrace online commerce. In general, they are skeptical of marketing material and can be impervious to overly salesy jargon.
Millennials grew up in the thick of technological transformation. The internet is their world they don’t tend to go very far without their smartphone firmly in their grasp. Millennials are the poster children for pop culture and tend to dominate social media. But it’s not all so shallow - they are also the largest generation of entrepreneurs. Naturally, they are slowly outnumbering the baby boomers in the workforce. Known to prioritise social issues over economics, millennials are soft-hearted and would rather take a less-paying job that they love than a boring, big shot job. This also means they value life satisfaction more than financial security.
Despite this mindset, Millennials have big spending power which makes them a lucrative segment. When they shop, they have the propensity to overindulge. They adore the ease and convenience of e-commerce and can rack up huge orders at a time. Millennials look up to and prefer brands with values and ideals relatable to them. Traditional marketing material won’t work on this cohort. Their buying behaviours are heavily influenced by what they see on social media, especially on Instagram, so leverage these channels at all costs.
The post-millennial generation, Generation Z makes up almost 30% of the world’s population. This cohort is arguably the most heavily influenced by technology and the internet. Unlike other generations, Z is likely to have been exposed to tablets and smartphones since infancy. They spend an average 4 hours and 15 minutes per day on mobile with 95% of them owning a smartphone. Although they are generally social-media-addicted, Gen Z appears to be more independent and self-confident, not relying too much on their parents even for money. They have managed to extract skills and competences from technology from a young age.
Of course, with so much screen time comes repercussions. There is concern that Gen Z’s attention span is dwindling. Incessant scrolling and instant gratification means this group has trouble focusing on things like study and reading. Their exposure to content means one has to work hard to grab and maintain their attention. Gen Zers have a staggering spending power of over $140 billion, so it’s worth the exertion.
Every generation grew up in a different world, which means they all have different perspectives. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to speaking their marketing language. Evaluate who you are selling to, and which cohort they belong to. Put your finger on their pulse. Take advantage of the rich insights we can gather about their feelings and behaviour, and use them to build a fully targeted strategy that will send your sales into the stratosphere.
Need help building a killer online presence? At Elephant in the Boardroom, we know how to get you noticed. Whatever your target audience, we have the skills and expertise to reach them digitally. For a free consultation, check us out at www.elephantintheboardroom.com.au.