Each generation has unique expectations, experiences, generational history, lifestyles, values, and demographics that influence their buying behaviors. Accordingly, many companies are reaching out to multi-generational consumers and trying to understand and gain the attention of these diverse buyers.
This type of multi-generational marketing is the practice of appealing to the unique needs and behaviors of individuals within more than one specific generational group, with a generation being a group of individuals born and living about the same time. In this article, we’ll look at environmental factors and how they influence traits of each generation.
The Silent Generation
Break with stereotypical portrayals of older consumers and “seniors.” Individuals from this generation typically emphasize traditional values such as discipline, self-denial, hard work, obedience to authority, conformity, commitment, responsibility, celebration of victory, and financial and social conservatism.
It’s important to earn their trust, as they believe that a person’s word is his or her bond. Patriotism, teambuilding, and sacrifice for the common good are appealing to this generation. They also appreciate romantic themes, candlelight dinners, and soft music. As a group, they aren’t particularly interested in the information age; however, the younger members of this generation are one of the fastest growing groups of internet users.
Baby Boomers appreciate options and flexibility. They want quick fixes that require little change and instant improvement. They do not like bureaucracy—but give them a cause to fight for and they will give their all. In addition, focus on building value and they will be less price sensitive if they believe they are getting a superior product at a good value.
Health is a major concern for this generation, especially considering most are near retirement age if not already retired. While the group may be aging, they do not want to be reminded of that. They are focused on anti-aging and breaking the mold of what 60 and beyond looks like.
The people in this generation are moving into the middle and latter stages of the marketing demographic. Their tastes are different from previous generations; because they have many needs and greater financial restraints, they often shop at value-oriented retailers. On the other hand, they have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies.
Generation Xers like initiatives that will make things more useful and practical. They demand trust to the extent that if your organization does not follow through once, then you are likely to lose them. Treat them like family. Marketers can help them plan for the future and balance work, family, and personal life.
The younger members of this generation receive considerable marketing attention, shopping with important preferences and tastes. Attract this group early and earn its loyalty by appealing to their belief that they can make the future better. Be sure your customers and potential customers know that your organization’s mission speaks to a purpose greater than the bottom line, e.g., globalization, climate change, and the advent of the “global citizen.” Give them systematic feedback because they value positive reinforcement at accelerated rates compared to previous generations and want more input into all things in which they participate.
Millennials are able to easily grasp new concepts and are very learning oriented. Many are in college or have entered the workforce, and most are planning for lifelong learning experiences. However, traditional mass marketing approaches do not work well with younger consumers. They react positively to real examples. They favor the truth and what is real.
Communicating with customers in different generations can be challenging. However, all generations appreciate honesty and authenticity. As environmental factors change, transparency and genuine interactions remain important to everyone.
First featured on ForbesBooks.com