How to Use Generational Marketing to Target Baby Boomers, Millennials
Last updated 11/30/2020
In an age like never before, generational marketing is at an all-time high. There are currently six living generations in the United States, and they all want to receive information about your products and services differently. Use generational marketing—segmentation by life stage and other factors—to get the right message in front of the right audience through their preferred platform. With the surge of digital marketing, businesses now have an arsenal of data and analytics to ensure effective communication with their target audience.
So how can you make sure you are accurately targeting different generations the right way?
First, understand your target audience. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and account for 73 million people in the United States. They have the highest value as consumers in the market today and the most disposable income. Boomers spend on technology and tend to pay attention to traditional marketing and sales tactics. Although they do a majority of their shopping online, they still prefer making in-person purchases.
Generation X is the smallest generation, bridging the gap between baby boomers and millennials. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers are a true hybrid when it comes to marketing. They grew up without online shopping and still embrace a trip to the store; they won’t be sold with flashy advertising. However, their adoption of technology is on par with millennials.
Generation Y, widely known as millennials, includes those born between 1981 and 2004. With a diverse range of interests, hobbies and values, they are a complicated group to market to, but they are a solid economic force. Millennials are often the number one target of generational marketing. Although they are most receptive to online shopping opportunities, they prefer the convenience of omnichannel accessibility during their purchasing journey. Millennials value the experiences of other consumers; online reviews and ratings, as well as word of mouth.
Unlike millennials, members of Generation Z don’t remember a time without the internet. This group has an extremely short attention span. Use video and social media to capture their interest, specifically YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Tailor messaging to focus on selling experiences rather than pushing products. Members of Gen Z aren’t interested in hard sells. To boost loyalty with them, openly communicate the ways you are ensuring that their data and privacy remain safe.
To effectively market to any group, you need to understand the basics of what makes a generation unique. While boomers and millennials have very different styles of media consumption and communication, there are commonalities. When it comes to generational marketing, customization and segmentation is critical; however, avoiding stereotypes is equally important.
Whether you are targeting baby boomers or millennials, follow these basic rules of marketing that span generational gaps:
1. Align your marketing strategy with your target audience. When you define your target audience, that sets the stage for your marketing efforts. In addition to identifying your marketing mix (i.e. price, product, promotion and place), determine which audiences you need to engage. They are a distinct segment of customers that you are trying to reach to promote your business, products and services. Once you’ve segmented your audiences, you’ll be able to strategically determine which tactics to employ, as well as which keywords and messaging will resonate with them, increasing the chances of moving them to action—whether it’s down the sales funnel or purchasing your products or services.
2. Identify your goals and tie them to your business objectives. Each goal should have a timeline and completion date. They should also follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal structure—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. One of the most important components of S.M.A.R.T. goals is the measurement aspect. Calculating return on investment (ROI) is critical for any business. Without goals, you have no way of knowing whether your marketing tactics are driving business results.
3. Determine which strategies and tactics you will use to achieve your goals. The tactics should be wide-ranging enough to tie back to the goals and strategies. Tactics can include digital marketing, public relations, social media, web and mobile app development and advertising. Within those broad categories are smaller tactical elements encompassing podcasts, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, webinars, pay-per-click advertising, blogs, press releases and collateral to name a few.
4. Create a budget. A marketing budget details the marketing tactics, activities and expenditure that are a part of your overall marketing plan. It is not a standalone document, but a financial plan within your overarching marketing plan. At a time when every dollar matters, consider utilizing digital marketing channels that are highly targeted and reach people online—where they spend their time and money. Digital marketing is an extremely cost-effective way to create brand loyalty. For small businesses, digital marketing levels the playing field. It can be segmented or hyper-personalized, and it is easy to scale and adapt.
Don’t overlook baby boomers when planning your digital marketing strategy. They search online, make online purchases and even socialize using social media. Do not throw away the thought of using social media to capture this generation’s attention—while they are on social media, they are just using it in a different way—relying on Facebook as a “brag book” to show off new grandchildren or their latest vacation and to stay in touch with friends and family.
5 most effective ways to market to baby boomers.
Baby boomers are no longer the generation that can only be reached through direct mail or print ads. What boomers want in a brand isn’t necessarily about fashion, trends or the latest “vibe.” Of course, they want to try new things and stay up to date with the latest technology, but they do so to improve their lifestyle, find a good experience and stay connected with a myriad of communities.
This group has thrown out the traditional notion of aging and like to be thought of not by their age, but by experiences they can take part in. Having a mobile responsive website and good offline and online customer service is very important to this group.
Here’s how to target baby boomers:
- Use video in creative ways. Boomers are seeking educational, slower-paced videos with explanations or tutorials about your product or service.
- Don’t overlook social media. Facebook is the channel of choice for 90% of boomers. They are likely to use it for socializing and catching up with friends and family and sharing informative and engaging content. If you use hashtags, keep them to a single word as they don’t resonate with this group.
- Use pricing terms such as “sale” or “clearance” in your ads. Although they have the most disposable income, price comparison is a top priority for boomers. However, they don’t mind spending money on luxury items or the newest tech or gadgets.
- Rely on an omnichannel marketing approach. Make sure you are connecting your digital marketing, such as your Facebook ads to the in-store experience. Consider offering a discount for an in-person purchase. Optimization for laptop/desktop computers, as well as mobile, is important for this group. Afterall, the majority of baby boomers own a smartphone.
- Incorporate email marketing into your marketing campaign and remember that segmentation is key. The days of sending the same email to your entire database are gone. Be sure your messages have a clear end goal and call to action. Although boomers are not as likely to shop online as other generations, email is an integral part of their lives.
Although boomers were born before technology took control of every aspect of our lives, don’t be surprised to find that they are adopting it now! While generations may engage in the world differently, everyone has the same common desire to be an informed and valued consumer. As a business owner, it is important to make sure that your customers feel important and get enough information about your mission, products and services.
5 marketing strategies to capture the millennial audience
There are currently 83 million millennials in the United States—making up almost 30% of the population. This generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with social media and digital technologies. They are busy liking, pinning, sharing, snapping, forwarding and commenting on social media. In fact, the average millennial spends almost three hours on social media sites each day. They crave content and third-party endorsements that they can engage with.
At home, in the office and when deciding which products to purchase, millennials want to make a positive impact in the world and prefer purchasing sustainable products. For them, focus on selling your “purpose” more so than selling your products. They also value experiences and convenience and are invested in health and wellness and environmental issues. In general, millennials are drawn to products that stand for a lifestyle or show that they belong to a particular niche. When marketing to millennials, use personalized messaging that is authentic and transparent.
Here’s how to capture millennials’ attention with marketing:
- Mobile marketing, such as text promotions, mobile advertising, location-based promotions, app marketing and mobile coupons coupled with online advertising is key to capturing the interest of millennials. Leverage Google AdWords to ensure your business is found by your target audience at the exact time they are searching for your products or services.
- Meet them where they are—on their phones. That means your content must be optimized for mobile. Millennials are consuming content across multiple devices. A multi-platform marketing strategy is key with this group so they can move seamlessly between their devices throughout the day to make purchases, book travel, search for information and watch videos.
- Create authentic content and push it out on your blog. One in three millennials rely on blogs as the top information source before making a purchase. Rather than traditional advertising, millennials connect with brands through content, which allows you to educate them about your products or services and demonstrate your authority in the industry. Like baby boomers, video is an effective way to target millennials. The average millennial watches about six hours of content per day.
- Use social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—to market to millennials and they will reward you. Millennials use social media daily and are the dominant users of Snaphchat. Forty-four percent are willing to promote brands on their social networks. Connect organically and cultivate relationships with them—the more you engage them, the more likely they are to buy from you.
- Improve sales and upsell with a personalization strategy, a tactic that combines consumer data with advertising technology to deliver individualized messaging and experiences. Millennials want to feel uniquely understood. They are seeking a customer-centric experience in which they feel recognized and valued. Personalization can include inserting a person’s name into an email, text or subject line, showing customers personalized products, providing distinct mobile experiences or customizing headlines.
Millennials are the demographic every brand wants to attract; missing the mark with them isn’t an option. Remember, keep your messaging simple, authentic and purposeful. Cutting through the noise and meeting them where they are—on several platforms—is essential. As the largest group in the workforce, the most significant benefit to capturing millennials’ attention is their potential long-term value and loyalty.
If you need a winning generational marketing strategy, contact us today to get the conversation started.