What Is Generational Marketing?

Regardless of the size of your business, proper marketing is essential if you want to be successful.

Different generations have different wants and needs, however, so a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing usually isn’t the best way to reach your largest possible audience. If you want to make the biggest impact, you need to target your marketing efforts differently to different generations. This is the core concept behind generational marketing.

By researching trends in different generations, your marketing team can more effectively develop strategies to promote your business and products. This differentiation improves the likelihood of your message getting out there successfully, since you’ll match a relevant message with a means of communication that your target generation prefers.

With this in mind, the question isn’t whether your company should use generational marketing… it’s how can you make sure that your company is using generational marketing effectively.

Effective Generational Marketing

To effectively market to different generations, your company needs to first realize that not all generations are the same.

Centennials (those who are just now coming of age) won’t be interested in the same things as Millennials (mid-to-late 20s and 30s), and a strategy that works effectively on Baby Boomers (early 50s to early 70s) likely won’t hit the mark with Gen Xers (late 30s to early 50s). This means that you’re going to split your marketing efforts and develop unique strategies for each generation you wish to target.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go all in and develop a full marketing campaign for each generation, of course. Instead, determine which generation groups are most likely to want your product or service and focus your primary marketing efforts on them. The exact amount of focus each group gets is fully dependent on what your company offers and how likely each group is to buy in to your product or service.

Choosing Your Target Generations

Selecting the right target for your marketing can make a huge difference in its effectiveness. Are your products or services more popular with young people than older generations? If so, Centennials should be your primary focus. Does your company cater largely to those approaching their golden years? Focus on the Baby Boomers. Analyze your company and its largest customer base, then adjust your marketing targets accordingly.

Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that you should focus exclusively on these target generations. Even if your company caters almost exclusively to specific generations, there are people in other generations that might be interested in your offerings for their children, parents or other loved ones. Just be careful not to overinvest in targets that don’t typically buy your offerings.

Leave Your Assumptions at the Door

When developing targeted marketing plans for different generations, try not to assume too much about the generations you’re targeting.

Many marketers believe that younger consumers are less likely to spend money than older shoppers, that older consumers are more likely to use “outdated” means of communication like email and that large quantities of consumers are moving away from traditional means of influence like direct mail and in-store marketing. Following this wisdom, you’ll spend a large chunk of your marketing budget on flashy digital advertising while ignoring young consumers because you don’t think they’ll buy in to your company’s offerings.

The problem with this approach is that research has shown drastically different findings. In-store marketing is still a huge influencer, as is direct mail. Millennials are the most influenced by email, and Centennials are the most likely to buy quality items or services even if they’re at a premium price. Baby Boomers tend to pinch pennies and are only marginally influenced by digital campaigns.

Even if there are popular assumptions about generational groups, make sure that your marketing team does their homework to see if the assumptions are true.

Revising Your Targets

Once you have a generational marketing plan in place, don’t assume that it will remain effective forever.

Review your results periodically and continue revising your marketing plans to follow market trends and developments in technology. Even international corporations can fall out of touch with consumers if they stick with the same old marketing efforts, so stay on top of things to make sure that your marketing stays relevant with your intended audience.