Start by discarding some unfounded assumptions.
October 17, 2019 5 min read
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It’s no secret that different generations of consumers think differently. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that you’d need separate marketing strategies to target each one. Fortunately, there are at least a few basic rules of thumb that span any generational gap, and they can help ensure your marketing efforts reach everyone.
The mistake many marketers make is in designing their entire strategy around generational assumptions that aren’t always true. These principles can help you avoid making that mistake and ensure that your marketing campaigns reach as many eyeballs — of as many ages — as possible:
1. Keep marketing efforts diverse.
Consumers want to see themselves reflected in your marketing efforts. Just make sure all of your customers are reflected. For a single campaign promoting its 2018 Camry, Toyota created eight different films, highlighting people of different races and lifestyles in each spot. And CoverGirl added 69-year-old Maye Musk to its brand ambassador list, making her the oldest model to star in one of its campaigns. The move was simply an extension of the cosmetics brand’s focus on including diverse models throughout its marketing efforts.
Your customers will notice when your campaigns lean into diversity and inclusion. In fact, your Millennial customers will like you even better if they see more than themselves reflected in your marketing materials. So instead of centering your ampaign on a single generation, make sure you feature a diverse group of models with a variety of lifestyles. In a post for Medium, ThirdLove co-founder and co-CEO Heidi Zak explains that, “Over the years as we’ve become more age-inclusive, we’ve found that marketing a product to several generations doesn’t require multiple strategies. You just have to listen to what your customers are asking for and focus on inclusivity and diversity as you continue to grow.”
2. Don’t play favorites with your message’s medium.
Millennials are largely influenced by what they see on Instagram and Facebook. That’s why most marketers focus a big part of their social media-marketing efforts on trying to appeal to them. Unfortunately, many do so at the expense of reaching out to other generations, and they’re ignoring a huge portion of their audience as a result. After all, every generation is shopping online and using social media these days.
Consider Baby Boomers, who have been slowest to embrace technology. That slow embrace doesn’t mean you won’t find them on social media. According to Pew Research, 69 percent of adults aged 50-64 use at least one social media site, and they’re also up to 19 percent more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation, a Fractl survey found. And while Generation X still prefers visiting stores, its members check social media and online reviews on their phones while they’re in the store.
So don’t assume you’ll only get results by targeting all your social ads to Millennials and all your print ads to Baby Boomers. Instead, incorporate messaging that appeals to each generation on every platform your marketing team uses.
3. Market to all with respect, not generalizations.
When you stop using assumptions to guide the placement of your marketing efforts, you’ll find it much easier to reach across generations. Yet it’s just as important not to let assumptions seep into your messaging. “Don’t portray seniors in a negative or helpless light,” writes Geoff Gross, founder and CEO of Medical Guardian, in a recent blog post. “Instead, demonstrate how a product can help seniors remain independent and enhance their wellness.”
In addition, scrap the myth that Millennials are selfish, and instead tailor your marketing messaging around the fact that the members of this generation are socially conscious. Their concern for the world around them is why, according to one survey, 61 percent of Millennials view making a difference as a personal responsibility.
Similarly, discard the idea that Gen Zers can only interact with businesses digitally when data shows that 98 percent shop in brick-and-mortar stores more often than online. To market to this generation effectively, target them with in-store and online offers, utilizing geofencing to send deals via digital notifications when customers are near your physical store. Bottom line: Make sure consumers relate to your message, and don’t let generational stereotypes influence your marketing plans.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Baby Boomers don’t avoid social media any more than all Millennials sidestep traditional marketing tactics. If you want to successfully reach all generations, start using every medium at your disposal to reach out to them — and don’t make one generation more important than others in your campaigns.