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Walk into any household today with residents spanning generations and you may find grandma reading the paper, mom on Facebook, dad watching the evening news, older sister Emma on Instagram viewing some influencer’s live story, and little Joey on Snapchat with friends. How we consume ads, promotions, news, shows and gossip has everything to do with where we are on the generational spectrum – critical for any marketer looking to reach his or her target audience.
Let’s take a look at each generation’s profile and how to reach them:
Baby Boomers, ages 55 to 73, make up 76 million of the U.S. population and, according to Pew Research and others, they typically get their news before they set out for the day, do a lot of research prior to buying a product (so “search” is important), and consume information via traditional media such as TV, radio and newspapers. In general and depending on where they fall in their generation’s age range, Boomers’s social media preference is Facebook (although you will find a lot of 55-year-olds on Instagram – just think “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” or “New York” and all their followers). Boomers grew up reading so they enjoy consuming a lot of text and are likely to share content that appeals to them with others. Marketers who want to reach Boomers should give them as much information as possible to help them make an informed buying decision. Marketers should also ensure their strategies include a number of touch points: television ads, strong web platforms with a regular blog, optimized content for search, and posts and promotions on Facebook.
Generation X, born between the early to mid-1960s and early 1980s, accounts for 82 million people in the U.S. More tech savvy than Boomers but not as tech-nimble as Millennials and Gen Z, Xers often feel overlooked by brands, although their high purchasing power and income make them an ideal target for marketers. Email is their preferred method of communication; they prefer to check their in-box often, along with Facebook, YouTube and traditional media such as TV, radio and newspapers. Nurture email campaigns with clear customer journeys that tap into loyalty and other similar programs will get Gen Xers to respond. They are also keen on nostalgic marketing messages bringing them back to a time when things were simpler and not as frenzied.
Born between 1982 and 1994, Generation Y or Millennials make up 73 million people in our country. They were born and raised with technology in their hands and, according to Pew Research, are the most educated generation to date. They want to be informed 24/7 and you could say they are responsible for FOMO(check out this article for an interesting read on the origin of Fear Of Missing Out). The rise of Facebook and the proliferation of smartphones have provided them (us) with a constant drip about what we don’t have.
Gen Yers also have a selective attention span (all that texting, Snapchatting and Tweeting takes them in many different directions), so online content should be shorter, more image-focused and meaningful. (Bear in mind, research shows that 63% of Millennials use ad blockers.) They use videos to conduct research before making a purchase and prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than things, making special events and virtual reality more impactful. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter rank among their most-used media with online news platforms as their sources for what’s going on.
How do you get through to Gen Y? Because of this generation’s FOMO, the best marketing approach involves touting the “next big thing.” Be innovative and authentic and avoid an overly salesy approach. In addition, as Millennials are responsible for having a greater social consciousness than previous generations, they look to affiliate with and support brands whose values are symbiotic. A company’s stewardship in our world is important to them and this should be conveyed throughout all messaging.
The latter range of ages four to 24, Generation Z, representing about 74 million individuals in the U.S., is starting to make its presence known in the workforce. And, by 2020 (that’s next year!) Gen Z is expected to account for 40% of all customers. This generation was born into the age of the Internet, social media and the smartphone and knows no other environment. Remember the YouTube clip of the child trying to “swipe” a glossy magazine like an iPad? This behavior epitomizes Gen Z and the generations to come. Gen Z uses Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube primarily and is a big follower of influencers in purchasing products. In fact, influencer-marketing trumps direct brand interaction. Visuals with little content on social media area must.
Email marketing is not dead for Gen Z. According to a survey conducted by Campaign Monitor, 58% of Gen Z respondents said they check their email multiple times a day. Twenty-three percent say they check their email at least once a day, 12.1% report checking their email a couple of times a week, and 5.2% check their email only once a week. Furthermore, Gen Z receives 20 emails or fewer a day, so marketers have less competition for their messages to get through than they might on other digital platforms.
Gen Z like their predecessors is socially minded and cares about brands whose corporate responsibility is aligned with its values. To reach this generation, leveraging a strong social media presence where Gen Z resides with content that makes a difference is key in any marketing strategy. Since Zers don’t go anywhere at any time without their phones, optimized content on mobile devices is also critical. They don’t spend a lot of time on ad-sponsored TV with streaming services (Netflix) being their clear preference, so traditional advertising is not as effective as with other generations. They also prefer cool products to cool experiences (unlike Millennials).
Gaining insight to each generation and its technology usage is important in shaping a brand’s marketing–from implementing effective and relevant digital marketing campaigns and content across various channels including social media, websites, email and mobile to utilizing influencers and videos and other strategies – in order to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.
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