Generational Marketing 101: When Age Is More Than a Number

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Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

By Kat, 3 months ago (4 min read)

Any digital marketing campaign – or indeed marketing campaign, for that matter – is doomed to fail without a comprehensive understanding of the target demographic and their interests, lifestyles and buying behaviours.

User personas are the foundation of effective messaging, ensuring your business is communicating with its customers in a language they actually speak – and one key aspect of a user persona is the generation to which this ideal customer belongs.

For so many of us, age is just a number (and rightly so) – but there’s no denying there are a few common threads that tie some key age demographics together. The good news is the buying behaviours of these consumer groups can be leveraged in the name of increased site traffic, engagement and, ultimately, revenue for your business.

Let’s dive in, as we break down the ABCs (or, should we say, the XYZs) of generational marketing – helping you to get savvy shoppers on side by speaking their language.

The baby boomer generation

Often referred to as the post-war generation, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) make up a staggering 21% of the population in the UK. As demographics go, this is a pretty significant chunk and, with an above average disposable income, this means the silver pound has a great deal of influence on the overall economy.

Having reached middle age before the age of computers and indeed before the internet became a staple of daily life, you could be fooled into thinking baby boomer consumers are not tech-savvy – but that would be a huge mistake. Figures suggest that 67% of those in retirement are using the internet more than ever – which marks a 27% increase since 2011. The most common method for online shopping is via tablets at 42%, while 37% surf on smartphones and laptops – so take note when you’re devising how you plan to reach them online.

Generation X

Having grown up in the midst of a popular culture explosion with the likes of MTV, generation X – born between 1965 and 1980 – has often been wrongly stereotyped as being wary of authority and lacking ambition during their teen years.

However, the reality is that this demographic has grown up in the midst of the huge technological advancements and adapted quickly, with 90% owning a smartphone and using it to search for news, view online banking, catch up on social media and check emails.

Now in their mid-forties to late-fifties, gen X consumers also a relatively affluent demographic, as they’re likely to be at the peak of earning at this point in their lives – but not quite at retirement age. Yet, as they make up a far smaller portion of the population in comparison to baby boomers and millennials, they’re often overlooked when it comes to targeted marketing.

This could potentially be a huge oversight, as one of generation X’s biggest plus points is that this is a group of people who are fiercely loyal to brands. This means that companies seeking to establish a steadfast customer base could benefit from looking at gen X as their first potential converts.

Generation Y

Commonly referred to as millennials, this generation were born between 1981 and 1996 and are one of the most talked about generations to date. They are also one of the most influential in terms of evolution within the marketing world over the past few decades.

Making up nearly a quarter of the UK population, generation Y consumers were born into a time when the internet, mobile phones and computers were readily at their disposal – or there or thereabouts, at the very least. Even though many older millennials may still recall the frustrations of dial-up internet, the younger members of this generation are born-and-bred digital natives and are, generally, prolific users of the internet.

From online shopping to social media and news consumption, the internet is their go-to resource for most things, with over 25% of gen Y consumers using smartphones as their device of choice. This has often led to negative press for millennials, who are pigeon-holed as being addicted to smartphones. The broader view is that of an influential generation who strive to use the internet to carry out research on products to ensure they make sustainable lifestyle choices.

Generation Z

Born between 1997 and 2012, generation Z is the youngest consumer demographic today. Brought into a world where technology is ubiquitous, these techsperts are savvy, with 98% of gen Z-ers owning a smartphone and 52% of them stating it’s their most prized internet device.

Anything but technophobes, it’s no surprise that members of this young generation use the internet as one of their primary sources of communication, through the use of messaging apps as well as social media – meaning brands looking to tap the potential of this generation will need to position themselves appropriately and on the right platforms.

It isn’t just about connecting with the 35% of gen Z consumers on Snapchat or the 15% on Instagram, though – this generation has ‘fake-dar’ and is surprisingly discerning despite any age-related preconceptions. This means they’re able to deftly filter out phony, irrelevant advertising messages in favour of authentic content that adds genuine value to their lives.

Still all fingers and thumbs when it comes to your Xs and Ys? Allow us to step in. We’re well-versed in crafting savvy marketing campaigns that strike the right chord with the right audience. Get in touch today.