When marketing your business products or services, it's important to clearly identify who your products or services are for. Your business may have just one client profile, or you may have multiple demographic segments. It is important you identify the characteristics and demographics of each segment. Why?
Marketing to different demographics will require you to use different techniques, messaging and platforms to deliver your message. What is important to a 25 year old will differ from goals of a 40 year old and where they consume information most likely differs as well. Let's look closer.
Before we break down characteristics of each generation, let's do a quick review of the different segments:
The Baby Boomers
According to the US Census Bureau, the Baby Boomers are the second largest population group in the U.S. at 20% of the population. This generation has above average incomes and generally debt-free homeownership without reliance on the job market. Because of this they have approximately 70% of the country's disposable income. However, their concerns will be centered around inflation, preservation of their retirement accounts and rising medical expenses.
Gen X makes up 19.3% of the population, according to the US Census Bureau. This generation is known for their resilience - they've weathered three recessions, are considered the sandwich generation (balancing family with aging parents) and grew up with the rise of the tech economy.
This generation is the largest population group in the US in 2023. During their adulthood, millennials have felt the unemployment gap during the Great Recession, stagnant wages, rising housing costs, the COVID-19 pandemic and now inflation. This generation is loaded with student loans and less housing equity. Many have delayed marriage and family for the same reasons listed previously.
Twenty percent of the US population is made up of Gen Zers. This is where you will find the most diversity in the US population from ethnicity, schools, societal concerns to the brands they associate with. They have never been a part of a world without the internet, so it makes sense they are more prone to anxiety, love to travel, love gaming and are ambitious,
Marketing to Different Demographics
To get the best return on your marketing investment, it's important to use the proper strategies when marketing to a specific generation. I outline marketing strategies for each generation below so you know where to find your target client and what messaging to use.
The preferred way to shop online is on their home computer or laptop rather than their cellphones.
This generation prefers to do diligent research and take their time when making a purchasing decision. Use testimonials, give them the details they are looking for, break down why they should make a purchase and put your guarantee in writing.
Don't use gimmicks, slang or trendy material.
Baby Boomers prefer to use search engines over videos or social media to look for more information about a business or product. Making sure your website is properly optimized and perhaps utilizing a PPC campaign on Google will reach this demographic.
The majority of Baby Boomers are on Facebook over Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social sites. Because of Facebooks ability target ads to specific demographics, advertising on Facebook for this demographic is better than other platforms. Check out my post on Creating Winning Facebook Ads.
Keep your messaging (written copy and images) focused on feeling young, remaining independent, creating an active lifestyle, offering a cost-effective solution and enjoying life. Do NOT use or elude to this generation as aging, getting older or elderly.
That being said, make sure the font colors and sizes on your website, ads and print materials are appropriately sized for ease of reading.
Use bullet points and sub-headings to improve readability.
Use social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to not only advertise, but also to educate or evoke feelings of nostalgia.
In addition to online marketing, Gen X also appreciates more traditional advertising such as print mailers, bus benches, coupons, television, or a highway billboard.
Gen X is characterized by self-sufficiency and independence - your advertising needs to be authentic or this generation doesn't have time for it.
Like the Baby Boomers, Gen X has a sense of loyalty to brands who deliver. Make sure you offer rewards and deals for your loyal customers.
Meet them where they are - talk about what it'll be like to be empty nesters, how they're at the peak of their career, or getting close to retirement. Remember, they are raising families, juggling careers and are navigating mid-life challenges.
Provide a great value for the the price and product you are offering. Gen Xers are known to look for the best prices and deals when making a purchase.
Mobile devices are an important part of the Gen X marketing strategy. Use text and social media (Facebook and YouTube ) campaigns when marketing to this generation.
Have a strong customer focused strategy - because of their loyalty, Gen Xers will become repeat customers, if you treat them right. Make sure you stay connected, offer them deals and personalize their service.
Millennials offer the least loyalty to brands when compared to other generations. Because of this you need to work harder to retain this generation of customers through innovative content and customer connection.
This generation loves to shop on social media so it's important to offer buying choices on social platforms, mainly on Instagram. Use reels, live shopping and tagging brands, influencers and products on Instagram as part of your strategy.
Verify your content is mobile-friendly.
Like Gen Xers, Millennials prefer authentic, transparent and engaging content. They prefer genuine recommendations over influencer or celebrity endorsements.
Do not waste your time or money on direct mail, print ads or other types of traditional media when marketing to Millennials. They prefer authentic connections through blogs, e-books and videos.
This generation loves to be entertained while they are researching or shopping online. Create fun and funny ads with concise content.
The focus of this generation is life experiences and happiness, versus material possessions. To connect with this generation, they need to feel heard and you need to build a positive relationship with them through informative content.
Offer opportunities for Millennials to be rewarded for becoming a brand ambassador for your brand. This includes quality customer experience, clear communication and loyalty programs.
Use testimonials with personal stories or experiences from real customers to lead them to the buying process.
While this generation is still young, there are strategies you can use to get their attention:
Entertain and educate with unique content. This means less polished content - more natural, organic content such as live videos and showing off your own personality without over-produced filters or production.
When you create content, establish your brand as an authority and reliable source of information.
Selling or promoting your product or service comes after you've gained your following from the steps above. Build your community and they will follow.
Use the comment section to comment on valuable content from other brands.
Like Gen X, you need a strong customer-focused strategy with the Gen Z consumer. You won't just lose the individual's loyalty - Gen Z will publicly call you out if you fail to deliver.
Speaking of calling you out, Gen Z wants to know your values and what issues you take a stand on. Educate, open up a dialogue, share the impact your business is making and create solidarity on causes you believe in.
Gen Z consumers are always looking for the next thing, so you need to keep your eyes and ears ready for up-and-coming platforms. This takes a lot of work, but brands that are willing to innovate and put in the effort that other businesses won't, can grow quickly on new platforms.
What others think is important to Gen Z consumers - use testimonials, reviews and influencer partnerships when marketing to this generation.
Hire Gen Z content creators to speak their lingo - do not try to do it your self. They'll find you cringey.
Gen Z purchasers are motivated by sales. And since Mom and Dad are likely still covering the bills, this will work in your favor as a short-term marketing strategy.
Be willing to invest a lot of time into following the trends and creating original content for the Gen Z consumers. Coupled with a strong long-term strategy, you should plan to be flexible with your Gen Z marketing strategies.
After reading about the differences between the various generations, you can see how identifying your target client will impact the marketing strategies you use in your business.