It’s no secret that people from different generations have different values, mindsets, and behaviors. As a business owner, you have to use this knowledge to your advantage.
All too often, I see companies launching broad-stroke marketing campaigns in an attempt to reach as many customers as possible.
While I commend the approach and thought process, it’s an ineffective strategy.
It’s much more effective to segment your marketing campaigns based on different generations. Don’t try to reach Millennials and Baby Boomers with the same advertisement.
Rather than speaking to both of these generations, your campaign won’t connect with either.
I created this guide to show you how you can use behavioral analysis to improve your marketing campaigns. By segmenting your target audience, you’ll be able to enhance customer engagement and increase conversions.
In this post, I’ll explain the differences between:
- The Silent Generation
- Baby Boomers
- Generation X
- Generation Z
Understanding the way these different generations think and behave will ultimately help you improve the customer experience.
This is valuable information for every business because your customers fall into one of those generational categories.
Depending on the size and scale of your company, you may even have customers from several generations while other businesses may be in a niche category and targeting only one of these market segments.
Regardless of your situation, this analysis will help improve your business. Here’s what you need to know about each generation.
The Silent Generation
People born roughly between 1925 and 1942 are members of the Silent Generation. This generation is also known as the “Lucky Few.”
This group of individuals is patriotic. They grew up living and serving during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
As far as their racial makeup, 78% of the Silent Generation is white.
The majority of them did not pursue higher education. In fact, only 20% of women and 32% of men in the Silent Generation have bachelor’s degrees.
They focused more on working and earning money as opposed to going to school. That’s because their parents grew up during the Great Depression, so this group learned the value of a dollar.
While companies may overlook the Silent Generation because of their age, there are still over 28 million of them alive today.
How can you reach them? You can still use digital marketing tactics to target the Silent Generation:
Nearly 60% of people over the age of 65 are active on the Internet, and almost 90% of them use email.
The majority of their digital consumption is done on a computer. Research shows only 22% of senior citizens own a smartphone.
If you’re targeting the Silent Generation, you can also use more traditional marketing tactics like print media. They grew up reading newspapers, so they’re used to this.
Make sure you create big advertisements with a large font. You want to make sure it’s easy for them to read. Don’t use colors that are too bright and difficult to see. Try to come up with a campaign that speaks directly to them.
For example, look back at some of the information I previously shared with you. You could use an American flag or other patriotic symbols to get their attention.
Try using keyword phrases such as “how to save money,” and put emphasis on the deal you’re offering.
Television is one of the best ways to reach the Silent Generation. Studies show this group watches more than 51 hours of TV per week.
This number is staggeringly higher for this generation than others, and it also suggests they don’t skip over commercials.
Baby Boomers are those born after World War II—from the mid 1940s to early 1960s.
This generation wants to get a great value out of their purchasing decisions. If you’re targeting Baby Boomers, you’ve got a great chance to upsell to your existing customers.
But these upsells have a greater chance of success if they’re pitched in person or over the phone.
As Baby Boomers enter and approach their retirement years, they are more financially stable. They may be willing to splurge at this point in their lives.
Baby Boomers are loyal to their favorite brands. This is especially true for specific industries, such as household goods, health, beauty, food, and beverage.
Although Baby Boomers are considered to be an older generation, it doesn’t mean they don’t have an active Internet presence. Even though they prefer to speak to someone in person, they still spend time shopping online.
In fact, 70% of Baby Boomers make a purchase on Amazon at least once per month. More than half of Baby Boomers use the Internet 15 hours per week.
This generation is a great target audience because you’ve got so many options to reach them. They will still come to your physical store locations to speak to your customer service representatives, but they’re also willing and able to shop online.
As a marketer, you have the best of both worlds here.
Even though Baby Boomers will shop at your ecommerce store, it’s unlikely they’ll do it from a smartphone or tablet.
Only 13% of Baby Boomers use smartphones to shop online; 18% of them use tablets for ecommerce shopping.
If you’re targeting this generation through mobile marketing tactics or push notifications, it won’t be effective. Your best bet is to reach them on their laptops or desktops.
They conduct research before making a purchasing decision. You won’t have much luck trying to target impulse buyers from this group.
When it comes to their online habits, Baby Boomers are doing much more than just shopping. More than 82% of this generation have at least one social media profile.
You need to use your social media marketing strategies to drive traffic to your ecommerce landing pages if you want to target Baby Boomers effectively.
Just make sure you’ve got plenty of information about your products and services available online. This will make it easier for them to conduct research.
It’s also a bonus if you make it easy for them to contact your customer service team over the phone or in person.
Generation X is commonly referred to as Gen X. They were born between the mid 1960s and early 1980s.
This is a family oriented group of people who enjoy new technology. People from Gen X lived through important historical events and the civil rights era.
With such a large age difference between the oldest and youngest members of Gen X, it can be tricky to market to them.
The oldest people from Gen X have some traits very similar to those of the Baby Boomers who preceded them. And the younger members behave more like Millennials, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Regardless of their age, one thing common across the board for this generation is their dependence on credit cards.
By the time they turned 24, 76% of Gen X got their first credit card. As a result, they’re used to carrying credit card debt.
As you can see, less than half of Gen X pay their credit card bills in full. Still, this generation has the reputation of being financially responsible and independent.
That’s because Gen X has other debt to worry about in addition to their credit card bills. The average mortgage debt for Gen X is $144,000.
This number is 60% higher than the number for the generations preceding them. From a marketing perspective, you need to use this information to your advantage.
They are homeowners who use credit cards. Your marketing campaigns should take into account both of these elements.
Millennials are also known as Generation Y. They were born between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of April 2016, Millennials exceeded Baby Boomers in terms of population size in the United States.
Compared to previous generations, Millennials are more conscious of the world around them. They like businesses that care about the environment and giving to people in need.
In fact, nearly half of Millennials are more likely to buy something from a business that contributes to a greater cause.
And 37% of this group said they would even be willing to spend more money on a product or service if it meant it was supporting a cause they believed in.
This generation has adapted to technology much earlier and faster than previous generations: 56% of Millennials are the first people to try out a new form of technology.
They love creating content and posting original photos and videos on the Internet, especially on social media platforms.
Millennials want entertainment from brands. They also want to be part of the creation process, and they love to have their feedback heard.
More than two-thirds of Millennials want to provide feedback to a brand, whether their experience was enjoyable or poor.
This generation loves to travel.
How can you use this information to your advantage as a marketer?
For starters, don’t be shy about your affiliations with nonprofit organizations and other charities. If you’re not making any donations to help certain causes, consider trying it.
As you could see from the research, you might even be able to charge more for your products and services if you take this approach.
Encourage user-generated content on social media. Ask your customers for feedback in the form of surveys and interviews.
Come up with marketing campaigns that show how your products and services can benefit people who are traveling.
Generation Z, known as Gen Z, the iGeneration, Post-Millennials, or the Homeland Generation is the newest group of consumers for brands to target.
The oldest members of Gen Z are just graduating from college. This means they are getting full-time jobs. With those jobs come full-time salaries.
As a marketer, you have a great opportunity to target people who just recently experienced an increase in spending power.
Just like Millennials, Generation Z also care about the planet: 78% of Gen Z are worried about world hunger and 76% are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet.
Brand loyalty isn’t that important to this generation. They care more about quality than loyalty:
The best way to reach Gen Z is through social media. But don’t use Facebook. There’s been a decline in Facebook usage among this age group.
Instead, bump up your presence on Snapchat and YouTube.
They watch YouTube videos more than television. Do you remember I mentioned that the Silent Generation watch 51 hours of TV per week? Well, Gen Z watch only about 3.5 hours TV each week.
Talk about a major difference between the two groups.
They enjoy using multiple digital media platforms simultaneously. That’s because their average attention span is only 8 seconds.
Keep this information in mind when marketing to Gen Z. You can reach them on the social platforms they use the most.
Just because they bought something from your brand in the past doesn’t mean they will do it again if they are not pleased with your product.
Successful businesses understand their customers. Your products and services need to add value to the customer’s life, and your marketing campaigns need to reflect this.
But with so many differences between generations, you’ll need to segment your target audience based on the campaign you’re running.
A print advertisement you made to target the Silent Generation won’t connect with your Millennial audience.
Your Snapchat ads designed for Gen Z won’t have an impact on Baby Boomers.
Figuring out whom you want to target and how you’ll reach them will increase your conversion rates and ultimately make you more money.
How are you using generational marketing tactics to segment your target audience?