It goes without saying that knowing your customers is a crucial part of scaling a successful business. You know by now that you can’t paint every prospective buyer with the same brush—that’s why you’ve done the market research to identify your target audience and attract those aligned with your brand purpose and values.
But do you know what subsets exist within that audience? More specifically, do you know if they are Gen X, Millennials or Gen Z?
There are many criteria that can define your target audience, one important aspect being age. Every generation has different ways of thinking, behaving and buying, which means they will react differently to marketing campaigns, pricing strategies and even your brand values.
For example, if your brand’s target audience is men living in urban areas, there will be distinct differences between men in their late 20s (Millennials) versus men in their early 40s (Gen Xers).
Just think of how different you (and your consumer habits) were 20 years ago and you’ll understand where we’re going with this…
Ask yourself the following: Where are Millennials on the income scale versus Gen Xers? Where are they respectively in terms of their lifestyle? Where do they receive most of their marketing and brand information from?
Understanding the key traits of both groups will allow you to reach each generation more effectively.
This is what generational marketing is all about.
Building diversity in your brand with cross-generational marketing allows you to reach your entire target audience, instead of alienating certain demographics -and missing out on sales as a result.
You can optimize your social media accounts, marketing campaigns, online presence and even your sales processes to make them more effective for different generations—you just need to know how to speak to them.
The trick is to avoid leaning into obvious stereotypes, we’ve seen that backfire time and time again (think: Millennials and the avocado toast jokes). Instead, focus on the market research backing their attitudes and preferences as consumers. Here’s how:
Generation X (1965–1980)
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Gen X outspends all other generations when it comes to housing, clothing, dining and entertainment. Similar data shows that Gen Xers have the highest post-tax incomes and outspend Millennials and Baby Boomers by 41% and 18% respectively. Talk about purchasing power.
Gen X was the last generation to grow up without social media or the Internet But that doesn’t mean they aren’t tech-savvy. In fact, while Gen X tends to be suspicious of newer social media platforms, they rely heavily on the Internet as a research tool when it comes to trusting new brands—so SEO and web presence matter greatly when reaching these consumers.
They are also the most brand-loyal generation, which means rewards programs go a long way when retaining Gen X customers. They are also the most likely group to engage with email marketing, especially nurture campaigns that help them get to know your brand.
Millennials hold the number 1 spot when it comes to market share. As the largest generationand the first to grow up with technology, brands put a lot of emphasis on marketing to Millennials.
Generally speaking, millennials place importance on authentic brand messaging and seek out brands that support causes they care about. While they love interacting with brands on social media, they tend to be harsh critics of flashy ads and messaging. Millennials are more likely to buy from a brand that talks about giving back or engaging with their community than they are from a brand that uses enticing sales or provocative messaging as a tactic.
This generation relies on user-generated content and the value word-of-mouth advertising.
Generation Z (1997–Present)
While the oldest of this generation is only around 24 years old, they already represent $140 billion of spending power. Gen Z is the only generation to have grown up with smartphones and social media around them their entire lives—and we have them to thank for the uptick in influencer marketing.
Like Millennials, Gen Z can see through “too good to be true” offers and focus most on brands that breathe authenticity. They care more about social causes than affordability and support brands that are geared towards positive changes and diversity, especially when it comes to climate change and politics.
If there’s one thing that Gen Z loves, it’s visual content. Brands must act quickly to get their message across before this generation scrolls. Social media platforms, specifically TikTok and Instagram, are anchors for this generation and where they are most likely to buy products endorsed by people they trust and follow (influencers and celebs, mainly).
When it comes down to it, personalized communication and authenticity are highly favored by all generations—no matter what platform they’re using.
If you need help tailoring your messaging to speak to the different demographics you’re trying to reach, get in touch with the Howbridge team to see how we can help develop your marketing and take your business to the next level.
Howbridge is a growth advisory firm that helps companies take the next step to market leadership.