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Multigenerational Marketing: Part 1

Choosing which market or segment to target is a crucial decision most businesses have to take when launching a new product. Sometimes it’s obvious who will want your product the most, and at other times it’s trickier. Many companies use segmentation methods to first identify their target market and then analyze how to approach it effectively. Segmentation can be based on to geography, needs, behavior, income, education, religion, etc.

Many times, in the context of segmentation, we hear terms like “Baby Boomers” and “Generation Y” thrown into the air, and often we’re not really sure what they actually mean. I will dedicate my next few posts to trying to correct this by focusing on four main generations and exploring the interests, behaviors, and most relevant marketing methods for each one.

A generation is a group of people who experienced similar events at a similar age. Therefore, they share a common social, political, economic, and historical perspectives shaped by the fact that they traveled through life “alongside each other.” Even though the social, political, economic, and historical environments differ from country to country, there are four main generations that can be identified in almost any Western country, with only slight differences. Here are the first two:

Baby Boomers: Baby boomers were born during 1946–1964 and are called this name because of the drastic increase in births between World War II and 1964. Family is very important to them, and so is having an active lifestyle. Boomers value individualization and self-expression, and therefore are looking for products and services that will improve their life quickly and with minimal change required. They are not so price-conscious and will be willing to spend more on products they believe offer them better value. They are trying to reshape how sixty looks and feels by focusing on products related to anti-aging, weight loss, health clubs, spas, etc. They are looking for products that are relevant to their life stage, not age. Wellness, health, leisure, and energy are main goals for them. Retro marketing taking them back in time to their childhood years is very effective with them. When designing the marketing message to target this generation, using personal gratification and public recognition was found to be the most effective.

Generation X: Generation X members, also known as the “why me generation,” were born during 1965–1977. These latchkey children grew up experiencing increasing divorce rates and violence. Recent difficult economic times have shaped their preferences dramatically. They are highly educated and therefore skeptical and disillusioned. Personal computing and the Internet have shaped their behavior, as they were the leaders of the information revolution and the dot-com era. Their main ambition is to balance life, family, and work to the best of their ability. Xers are free agents who are looking for flexibility rather than commitment. However, they do demand commitment and trust from service providers and are likely to reciprocate with abandonment if their demands are not met. This group is the most price-sensitive, due to greater financial constraints. They also value technological advancement. When marketing to this generation, you need to educate them into buying. Provide them with extensive information, and be a consultant to them rather than a seller. Their skepticism is also relevant when it comes to mass advertising; therefore, focusing on a customer experience that would generate buzz and peer recommendation is crucial when marketing to this segment.

Generations Y and Z will be included in my next post to help you better understand today’s ultra-connected generations.

Based on: Williams, K. C. and R. A. Page. ” Marketing to the Generations.” Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business (2011): n pag. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.

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