Imagine arriving in a new country and finding yourself completely out of out of touch with the world around you. After spending months brushing up on the language and familiarizing yourself with the culture, you suddenly find yourself unprepared.
Ordering lunch at a local café is a hassle, and when asking for directions or trying to communicate in any fashion, your words are misconstrued. This feeling is commonly referred to as being “lost in translation,” and it has the potential to occur in nearly any setting—even among businesses and their target audiences.
As organizations, a huge part of our success or lack thereof depends upon our ability to ensure our customers’ needs and wants are never “lost in translation.” In my last blog post I shared a few of my predictions with regard to The Future of Digital Marketing. Today, I’m going to delve even further into the essentials of marketing and address the necessity of generational marketing in a world of burgeoning technology.
The world we live in today is obsessed with technology, and resisting the urge to keep up with all of the latest trends can be somewhat of a challenge. However, depending on your target audience, not every trend will be suitable for your business.
This is why a target market analysis is so important. When researching your target market, one of the first things you want to consider is the age range of your audience, and develop a marketing strategy that communicates and engages the audience on its own terms.
A generation is defined as “a cohort of people born within a similar time span who share comparable age and life stage and were shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends, and developments).”[i] Each generation has a special set of circumstances that defines their interests, concerns, buying habits, and level of engagement to various media platforms. Let’s take a look at the five largest living generations and some of their characteristics.
- Born 1928-1945
- Referred to as “silent” because they grew up working hard and kept quiet
- Avid readers (especially newspapers)
- Disciplined, cautious, high moral character
- Many worked for one employer for the majority of their careers
- Wealthiest retirees in history
- Tend to be technologically challenged
- Prefer face-to-face conversations[ii]
- Born 1946-1964
- Optimistic, driven, team oriented
- Loyal to their preferred brands
- Tendency to slowly embrace technology, and yet we must remember Boomers invented the Internet and founded many technology giants (Apple, Microsoft, etc.)
- By 2014, 65 percent of this generation, then 50 to 64 years old, used social networking (specifically Facebook) to reconnect with old friends.
- Prefer more traditional advertisements such as television, newspaper, and magazine
- Least likely to read a long-form blog post[iii]
- Economic powerhouse responsible for most consumer expenditures- $15 trillion worldwide by 2019.
- Born 1965-1979
- Raised during the transitional phase between written-based and digital knowledge
- First generation to grow up with computers
- First generation to experiences an average of seven career changes within a lifetime
- Independent, self-reliant, entrepreneurial
- The average Gen X-er spends seven hours per week engaged on social media and 32 hours toggling between all media[iv]
- Works to live instead of living to work
- Prefers Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
- Although smaller in size (the baby bust generation), they are at the peak of their careers with the majority of decision-making power. As a result, this generation has more spending power than any other generation—29% of estimated net worth; 31% of total income.
- Born 1980-1995
- Have $200 billion in buying power
- 40% of Millennials 25 to 29 years old are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Grew up with mobile devices that group multiple forms of communication together (entertainment, shopping, GPS, education etc.) into one platform
- Are heavily influenced by online reviews and the opinions of their peers
- Tend to utilize rewards and loyalty programs; more likely to “check-in” to a business via social media when receiving an incentive such as a discount or coupon
- 93 percent report listening to podcasts or the radio for a total of 11 hours per week.
- Are engaged with most social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat
- Born 1996 and later
- Most ethnically diverse generation in US history
- Heavily reliant upon technology
- Have a growing buying power currently estimated at $43 billion
- Consumer spending expected to grow from 25-40 percent over the next decade
- Prefer anonymous social media platforms like SnapChat, Vine, and Instagram
- Those entering school already display signs of being entrepreneurial
- Tweens and teens live much of their lives interacting with friends and family via their smartphones
- Among those with Internet access, highly educated due to self-directed learning on many subjects due to continuous access to web-based research (Google, YouTube etc.)[vi]
As you can see from this comparison, there are similarities and differences between each of these five generations. You may be pondering what this means for you and your business. A few examples of the application of generational marketing include the following.
- If your target market is made up of retirees in an assisted living community, chances are you shouldn’t be asking them to follow your business on Twitter.
- You probably wouldn’t attempt to sell your products to a group of 20-somethings door-to-door.
- Depending on the age range of your target audience, you may find yourself having to utilize a variety of marketing tools—perhaps some direct mail, cold calling, email, radio, and social media.
As marketers, it is our responsibility to research and determine the ways our target audiences are most likely to respond and engage.
The evolution of technology has definitely taken the world by storm, and improved the quality of our lives in many ways. Nonetheless, businesses must be cautious, and resist the temptation of jumping onto every bandwagon as it rolls in. Innovation is truly a wonderful thing, but it can also amount to wasted resources if it fails to effectively engage your target audience.
We must always consider the wants and needs of our audiences, remembering that there are some people who would still much rather receive a telephone call or meet face-to-face rather than communicating over a mobile app. Organizations that remain cognizant of the generations within their target market, and focus their efforts accordingly, will continue to achieve success by creating and delivering messages that connect and engage.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
[i]Lister, Mary. "Generational Marketing From Baby Boomers to Millennials. WordStream. N.p., 27 Mar. 2017. Web.
[ii]Novak, Jill. "The Six Living Generations In America." Marketing Teacher. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
[iii]Lister, Mary. "Generational Marketing From Baby Boomers to Millennials. WordStream. N.p., 27 Mar. 2017. Web.
[iv]Veciana-Suarez, Ana. "Who's fixated on Facebook? Addicted to the smartphone? Not who you think." Miami Herald. N.p., 25 Jan. 2017. Web.
[v]Graff, Nikki. "Today’s young workers are more likely than ever to have a bachelor’s degree." Pew Research Center. N.p., 16 May 2017. Web.
[vi] Sickle, Leigha Van. "17 Statistics You Need to Know About Gen Z." Collective Bias. N.p., 14 Mar. 2017. Web.