Last month a couple of research articles about marketing to different generations hit my inbox.  One was talking about generational differences and the other was talking about similarities.

So the title of this update, Everyone Needs A Little Love is based on what I read along with what I’ve learned and observed in my 57 years and how to apply it to your marketing.

I admit that I could write volumes about this but I’ll just hit a couple of highlights right now.

I’m also going to share some personal stuff too.

Can you count the 4 generations?

I belong to the generation known as Baby Boomers. That’s the classification of people born between 1946 and 1964 when the population exploded after World War 2 and the Korean Conflict.  Our parent’s celebrated by having sex which led to having kids.   Birth control was more limited back then.

The next generation is known as Generation X which is currently age 38 to 52 or so. This includes kids of the oldest Baby Boomers.

Then you’ve got the children of the younger Baby Boomers, known as Millennials. All of my kids and step-kids are in this group aged 22 to 37.

Now we have a name for the youngest generation, Centennials (consumers under the age of 21).

My grandkids are Centennials ranging in age from 18 years to 6 months.  The youngest isn’t making purchasing decisions yet but he’s a consumer who is an influencer of his parents!

As a business owner or marketing person, you need to tailor your advertising to appeal to the people you want to invite to spend money with you.  This includes both the message and the delivery vehicle. 

Before I dig into some of the differences, let’s talk about what all generations have in common.

Everyone, no matter how young or how old, want to trust.

They want to trust that the money they spend will give them what ever it is that you are promoting.

If you are selling gluten-free food, they want to trust that your food is free of gluten.

If you are selling stylish clothing online, they want to trust that when their order arrives, it will be exactly as you said online.

If you are, well you can fill in the blank… Trust is a must for all of us.  When I married my wife we both made that commitment because we trusted each other.  My 6 month old grandson lets me rock him to sleep in my arms because he trusts me.

No matter what, be trustworthy. Got it? Cool.

Now here’s a couple of noteworthy items from one of the research papers I read from Mediapost:

  1. CENTENNIALS: The Experience GenerationThis youngest group of shoppers wants authentic brand experiences across all channels, and values quality over price or convenience. As digital natives, Centennials (consumers under the age of 21) don’t engage in the traditional customer service channels (such as phone or email), but they still expect personalized interactions with brands that understand their needs.
  2. MILLENNIALS: Brand LoyalistsMillennials (ages 22 to 37) stick with the companies they know and trust, demonstrating the most brand loyalty of all the generations. This means they are most open to marketing messages – assuming their interactions are personalized, brands stay true to their promises and their customer loyalty is rewarded.
  3. GENERATION X: Bargain HuntersOften considered the forgotten generation, Generation X (ages 38 to 52) is full of deal seekers. They want good buys on quality products, and they expect a convenient path to purchase. This group of consumers is most likely to be influenced by price and cares less about brand loyalty than other generations.
  4. BABY BOOMERS: Price-Savvy ShoppersPrefer brands that offer wide selections at discounted prices. Not motivated by loyalty programs or unique brand experiences, this generation wants to see a variety of well-priced products that meet their immediate needs.

There are other insights in the article that you can read at this link.

But before we wrap this up, I’m going to share with you some insight that either contradicts or complements the Mediapost article.

I’m a young Baby Boomer.  I have lived through each of these life stages.  A lot of the descriptions about the habits of the generations I just mentioned aren’t really characteristics of the generations.  They are really descriptions of the habits nearly everyone goes through as they progress from one stage of life to the next.

So those consumers under age 21, every generation in their youth was looking for authentic experiences.  You wanted to be part of the cool crowd, have friends, find love and experience real life.

Next comes life after college, reality hits, relationships become families and you want to find good and services, sometimes known as brands that you trusted and you developed your own loyalties to those things.

As the kids become teenagers and the family finances are pulled in all different directions, we really started looking for good bargains so we could afford it all.  Instead of bragging about how much we paid for something when we were teens, we now bragged about how little we paid and the deal we got.

Now as we become empty nesters, different circumstances influence our shopping habits.  Some have extra money to spend, some are on limited incomes.  Some are supporting their kids or grandkids, while others have money tucked away in retirement accounts.  The term Mediapost used, Price-Savy doesn’t mean cheap.  It means experienced and hopefully not gullible.

And one last time the key to all these people of all generations and life stages is trust.  Not a manufactured trust, but a genuine and earned trust.  Are you and your business up for that?

I wrote this article and recorded the podcast version last week and since then, this article about generational myth busting was published on Worried that your Millennial employees are Going to Quit on You? Read this.

Want help and guidance on how to apply these to your business?  Contact me.