Generational marketing refers to marketing strategies tailored to specific age groups, including the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. By understanding the unique characteristics, values, and preferences of different generations, small businesses can tactically design campaigns to connect with their target audience better.
Overview of Generational Marketing
Generational marketing is about recognizing the trends and patterns among generations to inform marketing decisions. The guiding principle is that each generation has a unique set of experiences. This extends to their values, preferences, and routines that ultimately shape their buying behavior. Marketers can use these to guide their marketing strategies in hopes of creating content that resonates better with their target audience.
Also Known As
Age Range in 2023
“Traditionalists” or “Maturists”
78 to 98 years old
“Boomers” or “Me Generation”
59 to 77 years old
“Latchkey Generation” or “MTV Generation”
43 to 58 years old
“Millennials” or “Net Generation”
27 to 42 years old
“Zoomers,” “iGen,” or “Centennials”
11 to 26 years old
Marketing to the Silent Generation
The Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1945, is the smallest consumer group among the generations. However, plenty of brands and marketers still cater to them because of their economic power. In fact, this generation is the third-most economically powerful generation. They have more spending power per shopper than Millennials and Gen Z combined.
Silent Generation Customer Profile
Some of the Maturists’ most significant historical events were the Great Depression (1929), World War II (1939), and other social hardships. Because of the political and economic uncertainty, we can see its effect on the generation’s most important values:
With that in mind, Traditionalists are often reached through traditional advertising channels, like newspapers, radio, and television. They have strong brand loyalty and love value-saving products or brands. For social media marketing, the platforms this generation uses the most are Facebook and YouTube.
How to Market to the Silent Generation
When marketing to the Silent Generation, make sure to emphasize trust and reliability. Some marketers also use the power of nostalgia to bring more sentimentality to their brand.
Here are a few marketing tips to keep in mind if you are targeting the silent generation:
- Consider utilizing phone calls, direct mail campaigns, and personalized interactions
- Use large, easy-to-read fonts
- Avoid overly complex or confusing language and slang
- Regularly offer discounts or highlight the value saved from your product
- Use imagery that includes happy families
- Tap into nostalgia through audio and visual content
- Showcase testimonials and reviews from people in the same generation
- Use traditional advertising channels and prepare hard copies of your information
Marketing to the Baby Boomer Generation
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are currently the most economically powerful generation. They are called “Boomers” because of the surge of births after World War II. They hold an astounding 43.4% of all economic power in the U.S., which is more than Millennials, Gen Z, and the Silent generations combined. This generation has the largest number of billionaires and make up the majority of CEOs in the country.
Baby Boomer Customer Profile
The Baby Boomer generation was thoroughly exposed to the time of political protests. This includes the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement. Because of their above-average disposable income and sense of patriotism accumulated from historical events, the core values important to Boomers include:
- Personal gratification
- Sense of community
Baby Boomers are known to contact businesses the most through email, making it the perfect opportunity for permission-based email campaigns. At the same time, most of them use social and messaging channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
How to Market to Baby Boomers
Marketing to Boomers can be a little more difficult compared to the Silent Generation because one of their core values is individuality. Nevertheless, you can win over this highly financially stable generation with strong customer support that would make their experience easier.
Here are other strategies to employ:
- Advertise your business on Facebook and LinkedIn
- Create videos that showcase your product or service
- Use concise language and skip the sales talk; stick to simple messaging and use elements like bullet points
- Go for high contrast in your website color palette
- Offer customer support via email
- Be transparent about your offerings, like price and comprehensive product descriptions
Marketing to Generation X
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, are also known as the “MTV Generation” or the “Latchkey Generation.” They are the highest-spending demographic, making them a sought-after audience for businesses. Gen X has the second-highest purchasing power, with a share of 26.2%.
Gen X Customer Profile
Gen X grew up during a time of rapid technological advancements, most specifically the rise of personal computers and the internet. They are called the “Latchkey Generation” because most of them were raised by working parents who let them play and care for themselves for a significant portion of the day. Their core values are:
Around 80% of Generation X use SMS text messaging for communication. This is even higher than Millennials and Gen Z’s texting habits. Gen X’ers like to make well-informed decisions, so to address this, marketers aim to keep their content valuable on their websites, Facebook accounts, and YouTube channels.
How to Market to Gen X
Generation X is relatively tech-savvy, although not on the same level as Millennials or Gen Z. Marketers can reach them effectively online, as long as the messaging is authentic and, as much as possible, personal.
Generation X marketing is made up of a mix of digital marketing and branding strategies. To reach them, you should:
- Employ effective website marketing strategies to bring Gen X to your site, including search engine optimization (SEO)
- Highlight the reliability of your products or services
- Reflect your business’ core values in your content
- Keep graphics, videos, and copy to the point
- Regularly offer discounts and coupons
- Explore social media marketing
- When possible, incorporate past people and events for nostalgia
- Offer self-service customer support options
- Implement loyalty programs
Marketing to Generation Y (aka Millennials)
Generation Y, also known as Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1996. Although they only have a 9.6% share of economic power, they are the second-biggest spending group among generations. They are digitally fluent and are recorded to be the most educated group in the U.S.
Gen Y Customer Profile
Most Millennials were young teens upon the release of smartphones, which we see in their overt preference for mobile phones versus desktops. This is the same for today’s organic and paid social media networks and even the launch of Google as a search engine. Based on these experiences, Gen Y’s core values are:
- Learning and knowledge
- Social responsibility
Gen Y is highly active in social media and prefers chat or text messaging as a form of communication. The social platforms commonly used by this generation are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Millennials are also highly likely to buy a product after reading a review on social media.
How to Market to Gen Y
When marketing to this group, you can’t turn a blind eye to digital marketing. The best chance of targeting Generation Y is online, especially through social media. They value user-generated content, experiences, and personalized content. With these in mind, you can use the following tips to market to Millennials:
- Deploy strategies to get more reviews on Google and social media, and highlight them in marketing campaigns
- Showcase social responsibility and brand values (see examples of core values for small businesses)
- Offer loyalty programs, time-limited discounts, and seasonal promotions
- Use chatbots and automated bulk SMS marketing messages for instant replies
- Ensure your website is search and mobile-friendly—Millennials spend a lot of time on their smartphones
- Write guest posts on sites Millennials frequent
- Invest in social media advertising
- Prioritize “shareability” in graphics and content
Marketing to Generation Z (aka iGen or Zoomers)
Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, represents the youngest consumer group in the market. As of now, they have the lowest economic power among the generations. However, the percentage of their population has been steadily increasing—and is now currently the second-most populous generation in the U.S.
Gen Z Customer Profile
This generation grew up surrounded by technology and is regarded as the first true digital natives. As a result, iGen has always been exposed to digital ads—making it easy for them to tune ads out with little to no effort. Significant events that affect Gen Z are climate change, the amplification of gun violence, the rise of social networking, gender equality movements, and the pandemic. Here are their values:
- Environmentally concerned
- Tech competency
Generation Z makes up the most active age group on social media. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are some of the social apps whose primary audience is made up of Zoomers. One of this generation’s most distinct characteristics is the heavy reliance on influencers to make purchasing decisions. Facebook ads are much less likely to be effective on them.
How to Market to Gen Z
When learning how to market to younger generations like Zoomers, the challenge is presenting your marketing differently from common advertising. Social ads are effective, especially when ad content doesn’t look or feel like an advertisement. Instead, it can be a representation of authentic values and real-life experiences with your products or services.
Here are other tips to keep in mind:
- Favor short-form content like TikTok videos, tweets, threads, or images
- Prioritize mobile-friendly content
- Interact with comments on social channels
- Stay on top of trends and incorporate it into your content
- Showcase the values behind your brand
- Partner with influencers
- Explore effective, low-cost small business marketing ideas like user-generated content
Benefits of Marketing to Different Generations for Small Businesses
Opting for a generational marketing approach lets you create highly targeted and relevant content based on the target age group of your ideal customer type(s). The most favorable effect is that there is better reception and responses to your content. Additionally, this approach gives more direction, which reduces wasted ad spend and improves marketing campaign return on investment (ROI).
Here is a breakdown of the top six benefits of marketing to different generations:
- Improves brand awareness: Generational marketing allows small businesses to focus on the most effective platforms and advertising channels for their target audience. For example, generational marketing points marketers toward Facebook to reach 78% of Baby Boomers instead of TikTok, which just has over 2% of Boomers.
- Increases relevance: Customizing content based on generational preferences improves its relevance for the target audience. In fact, a press release by GumGum announced that more personalized and targeted content ads can increase brand recall by 70%.
- Creates competitive advantages: Not all businesses use generational marketing to guide advertising and marketing campaigns. By marketing to different generations, you’ll get improved insights and tailored campaigns that perform better for your audience versus just having general content in an attempt to appeal to everyone.
- Drives customer loyalty: Generational marketing helps build stronger relationships with customers by keeping them top of mind in the content creation process. When customers feel connected to brands, 76% of consumers will buy from them over a competitor.
- Maximizes ROI: Generational marketing allocates your resources more efficiently by targeting your efforts toward the most receptive audience. This minimizes costs by focusing efforts and resources on the content, campaign types, and channels that are most effective. Additionally, brands can also see an increase in revenue since 57% of consumers will increase spending on a brand that they feel connected to.
- Improves local marketing: Generational marketing can improve the effectiveness of local marketing efforts. Use our guide to local marketing plans with downloadable template. Or get marketing inspiration with 13 local marketing ideas.
Generational Marketing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is an example of generational marketing?
Duolingo offers an excellent example of generational marketing in the use of specific social platforms for its target audience (e.g., TikTok for Generation Z). The brand’s content also incorporates slang, trends, and viral elements representative of marketing to younger generations that help its videos gain millions of views and likes.
What is a generational consumer?
A generational consumer is an individual belonging to a specific age group or generation, such as Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, or Gen Z. These marketing generations share common life experiences that shape their values and behaviors—which can be used by marketers to target them with content more effectively.
Why is generational marketing effective?
Generational marketing is effective because it recognizes the diverse preferences of different age groups. By tailoring marketing messages to these specific generations, businesses can create more compelling campaigns that resonate with the target audience.
Generational marketing groups consumers together based on their age and life experiences. Businesses can ensure that they’re catering to the people they believe would be better customers. With behavioral tactics developed from marketing to different generations, marketers can reach their target audiences more effectively—helping drive customer loyalty and revenue.
Social marketing and advertising are tactics that work with virtually every generation, but without a solid strategy, you could invest a ton of time and cash without reaping the benefits. Instead, let the experts at LYFE Marketing (on our list of the top social media agencies) put a plan together for your business that will pay off with the leads and sales your small business needs to grow. Get a free consultation today.