Marketing to Specific Generations 101

Mark Handwerger

Mark Handwerger About The Author

Aug 25, 2020 8:55:00 AM


As a business, it can be hard to acquire customers. Even though you may spark their attention with some specific marketing, hoping that they will commit to the product or service is another story. This is even more apparent when you are trying to market to a particular demographic. So how can a company figure out the best ways to reach these specific generations? By figuring out what each demographic wants, needs, and prefers. 

Consider Gen Xers, who are not only thought to be extremely busy, but they also love to shop online. And because most of them were entering the workforce when the Great Recession hit, saving is a top priority. That is why Blue Apron made a killing when it offered coupons for their product, really zeroing on these Generation Xers, and delivering a product that this base loved. 

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Have The Generation Represented in Your Ads

No matter who your audience is, they want to relate to your ads. One of the best ways to have them connect to your brand is to have the generation that you're targeting represented in your marketing materials. Consider using them as characters in scripted commercials, featuring them in your photo shoots, or even showing them off in your testimonials. These scenarios can bring that real-life representation into your marketing and connect you with the demographic you are trying to reach. 

However, one piece of advice with this tactic is to make sure that you're still keeping it diverse even when targeting a specific generation. 

Don't Make Generalizations About Generations

We all heard the jokes and comments about the Boomers and the Millennials. Even though some people may get a laugh or agree with them, it would help if you did not make these generalizations apparent in your marketing campaigns. You want to make sure that you're appealing to the generation you're targeting, without assumptions. Many marketers often make the mistake of designing their entire marketing strategy around generation assumptions that do not end up being true. As a result, they alienate the audience they are trying to win over. For example, you may have heard that Baby Boomers don’t engage on social media so you have decided to forgo those mediums.

The better strategy when you are trying to target a specific age group is to do your research. The more you know about them, such as what they want and what services they prefer, will help you strategize your marketing efforts to your target generation. 

Understand Where They Are in Their Buyer's Journey

Another way to reach your target audience is to carefully analyze their buyer's journey. First, you need to figure out which stage of the buyer's journey they are in, and second, you need to figure out how you can speak to them in each of these stages?

Consider the following three stages:

  • Awareness Stage: When the buyer is in this stage, they only realize they have a problem. They do not know about all the options they have to solve their issue, nor do they recognize the list of brands that can help. However, this stage can provide you with immense opportunity, especially if you can figure out how to plant an idea into the consumers' minds of how your product can help them when they are ready to purchase. Your marketing strategy will involve tailoring your specific content to their problem.
  • Consideration Stage: During this stage, consumers are committed to researching all of their potential solutions and the companies that offer them. Your marketing strategy needs to explain your product or service's unique features and how they can help the consumer. 
  • Decision Stage: Finally, in this last stage, the buyer has decided on a solution. This is where the consumer is "almost" your customer. However, you still need to figure out a way to close the deal. Your marketing strategy will need to focus on optimizing your brand for sales conversions, such as providing excellent customer service support.

In order to better reach the generation you are targeting, is to have a clear understanding of the stages of the buyer’s journey and who can be found where. When you possess this knowledge, you will be able to better tailor your marketing strategy to those stages.

Have Knowledge of Their Spending Power

Each generation has different levels of spending power. And one of the worst ways to not capitalize on this fact is to advertise a product or service to a generation that cannot afford it. Not only will this advertising usually fall flat, but it can hinder any further relationships with them because they may feel you do not understand what they are looking for. If you genuinely want to be able to target a generation's spending power, consider the following questions:

  • Do they have more of an expendable income? After the taxes have been paid, the food and other basic needs are taken care of, what profit is there leftover for them to use on other products or services. 
  • Can they afford to make more significant purchases? Those generations, starting with their adult life, may not have the income available to make substantial purchases. 
  • Are they making life-long purchases or more short-term in the moment purchases? Gen Xers are at the point in their life where they are dealing with homeownership and reaching the peak of their careers. Therefore, they may be more interested in life-long purchases than let's say, Baby Boomers. 
  • Are they making purchases on experiences or products that are more materialistic?

Advertise on Their Favored Platforms and Channels

If you are running ads on multiple platforms, it’s important to make sure your target audience is present on them so you aren’t wasting time, money, and efforts. First, you need to consider is your audience on social media? If so, what platforms do they prefer using, and what times do they usually log on? For instance, 44% of Generation Z check social media on an hourly basis

Another essential aspect to understand is what your generational audience prefers to watch. Do they watch live TV or stream it? What channels do they prefer to watch, and when to they do most of their TV viewing? Consider Nielsen's findings that Baby Boomers spend the most time watching television, almost 7.15 hours per day. When you know what, where, and when they are watching, you can then run your ads accordingly.

What is the Key to Marketing to Specific Generations?

As you can see, different generational consumers not only tend to think differently but the way they shop and consume content is also vastly unique. When you start researching these different age groups and stop generalizing them, you can start seeing the results that you want with your advertising. However, if you have issues targeting these specific generations or would like further help to reach them, consider working with a media partner who can provide you with the assistance, expertise, and ideas you need.

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