From B to Z: Marketing Across Generations

When one talks about social media, an image of young people glued to their devices is conjured, each of them posting, liking photos, or making reels and searching for the latest trends. However, it would be naive to assume only the youth use social media, as now the older generations are becoming more tech-savvy by the day, and are occupying more and more space in the social media world.

As a result, as a business, you cannot simply market to a target audience, but you have to tailor your marketing to different generations. A term, generational marketing, has been coined to mean the segmentation of markets by age, versus usually by gender, location or income.

Overall, there are four broad generations of consumers, and in this article, we will list a few things to keep in mind if you wish to minimise your budget, but maximise your marketing reach across several generations quite literally!

Gen 1: Baby Boomers (Mid 1940s to mid 1960s)

It would harm your business if you assume the ‘old’ baby boomers are not on social media, given that they are the majority of Facebook users and actively use emails as a form of communication. Though this generation grew up without the internet, they have adapted and are using social media as a means to keep up to date with current affairs.

If you target baby boomers, you are targeting a high spending power audience who have less responsibility of loans or supporting children. At the same time, they are careful with expenses as they are beyond the working, productive age. Since they believe in tradition and loyalty, they prefer their favourite brands and old media such as print ads, televisions and in-depth articles, therefore avoid media which uses slang and cultural references they may not understand. Use newsletters given their prevalence of e-mail usage.

Gen 2: Generation X (Mid 1960s to early 1980s)

Also known as the ‘forgotten’ generation, Generation X currently holds the most responsibilities as they are actively in the work-force, balancing their work with spending quality time with their families. They first saw digital media, and hence use both traditional and digital media, making their social media choices the most diverse; from Facebook with its lengthy articles, to YouTube with its soundbites and videos, to Twitter that combines both.

Given their high productivity and spending power, you can steer them towards luxurious products and services, but keep in mind that they have the least time to browse social media, so customised advertising would be a waste of time. Instead, they prefer quick and easy access to brands, be it through an email link or a Facebook post. If you wish to attract this generation, you have to appeal to what is important for them: financial security, family, and personal well-being. In short, do not forget them.

Gen 3: Millennials (early 1980s to mid 1990s)

Digital media rapidly spread during this period, hence millennials are the most active users on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Also, since they are the majority of the new labour force in most countries, platforms such as LinkedIn are also being widely used to form professional connections, and follow up with brands.

Millennials communicate and mostly shop via the internet, which means they seek online reviews and recommendations regarding places and brands of interest. Therefore, one way to connect with this generation is to focus on user-generated content such as online polls, quizzes and reviews. Satisfaction is valued over job security and they are environmentally conscious, so you can attract this audience through authentic, honest advertising over what is flashy or commercial. If your company is contributing towards alleviating a social issue and focuses on ethics, you can expect millennials to spread positive reviews about you. Avoid the usage of emails, make your ads short yet engaging, and aim for phone-based advertising that is personalised and customised.

Gen 4: Generation Z (mid 1990s to 2010s)

The generation that gave birth of influencers and eight second videos, Gen Z formed more than 40% of all spending consumers in 2020 according to Forbes. Gen Z quite literally was born with social media at their fingertips, and with their short attention span and need for consuming maximum content in the shortest amount of time, it is applications like Snapchat, Tik-Tok that are seeing billions of subscribers along with the older Instagram and YouTube.

With them, you have to tailor brief, personalised quality content on a continuous basis as majority of their lives are online. If you manage to collaborate with an influencer, who comes across as a real authentic person unlike a celebrity, then you have hit the jackpot, as Gen Z thrives on influencer content. Like millennials, Gen Z is also conscious of global issues, though at a smaller level.

At the end of the day, one cannot advertise equally across all platforms, and you have to tailor your marketing strategy to different markets and audiences. While it may seem that the millennials and Gen Zs are the most active on social media, the older generations are quickly catching up and are receptive to more diverse forms of media.