Evolving Your Marketing Strategy as Your Audience Ages
Marketing to the Generations Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All
The very first thing we do with our clients is always to figure out their target demographic, AKA their ideal customer (which we talked about in this marketing blog, if you want a refresher). This is such an important step because, depending on who you want to reach, the way you go about it will be completely different. If 75% of your clients are Baby Boomers… odds are, SnapChat is a waste of time, but ads on search engines and targeted email campaigns are a great place to focus your marketing efforts. If your target audience is Millennials or Gen Z, you virtually HAVE to be on Instagram. But we’ll get to more of that later… Basically, before you do anything else, you need to figure out who you are currently selling to and also who you want to reach, then determine where those people are buying products or booking services: digitally or in-store? And if digitally, what platforms are they using?
Where Is Your Target Customer?
One thing is true across every generation—consumers are buying online. According to a recent study, 2/3 of Millennials prefer buying online vs. in-store. While Gen X is about 50/50, and Baby Boomers are 60/40 in favor of buying in-store over online.
So everyone is online, but where exactly are they? The term “online” is too vague for today’s world. Where are they buying? Social media? Amazon? Google? Email?
Social Media use is declining across the board with Millennials and Gen Z except on one platform: Instagram. Gen Z is also continually present on SnapChat. However, Gen X is the most active on Facebook, while Boomers are also active on Facebook but make many of their purchasing decisions from emails or results on search engines.
While numbers may be down, Millennials and Gen Z are still absolutely using social media, mainly Instagram, to purchase products. And Gen X and Baby Boomers are also on social media, but they’re less likely to use it as a tool for shopping decisions. So where are the older generations purchasing online?
Here’s a closer look at different statistics and strategies by generation:
Many people assume Baby Boomers don’t buy online, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They absolutely do. In fact, the top 3 ways to reach them are television, search engines, and email marketing. Baby Boomers are actually way more likely to purchase from search results on Google or Bing than from social media.
While print-based direct marketing is often used to target Baby Boomers, recent studies show that they aren’t engaging with direct mail and brochures/catalogs like they used to. Print materials and radio are no longer likely to get Baby Boomers to move online to learn more. However, television has still been found more effective in getting Baby Boomers to find out more information about what they saw, and then purchase online.
So, if your target audience is between the ages of 55 and 75, you should absolutely be upping your SEO and email marketing strategies and using your marketing budget there rather than on print collateral or social media ads.
Generation X is a fancy name for people born between 1965 & 1980. This generation has way fewer people than Millennials or Baby Boomers… but don’t count them out. Even though they’re a smaller generation, they have huge purchasing power. On average, their income is higher than the national average as well as the averages of all the other generations.
Gen X-ers still have a fondness of traditional TV and newspapers, but they also research online. So, if you’re running TV commercials or even newspaper ads, you’ll still want to make sure your online presence is strong. If your online presence is weak, Gen X won’t buy.
Here are some recent Gen X statistics:
- 95 percent use Facebook
- 35 percent use LinkedIn
- 25 percent post regularly on Twitter
Since such a high percentage of Generation X-ers use Facebook, this is the social media platform to use to market to them.
One great thing about Gen X-ers is that they are extremely brand loyal. So, if you can get them in the door and give them a good experience, they will stay.
Here’s a tip—make sure to reward loyalty in some way, whether it’s a discount or fee item after a certain amount of purchases, or just with a nice thank you email. This will go a long way with Gen X.
So, how do you get and keep the ever elusive Millennials?
Well, we can tell you for sure that sales isn’t it. Millennials are a tough crowd to please, and if you push too hard for a sale, they’re bound to pull away, because most Millennials are turned off by traditional sales and ads.
Millennials are definitely not going to be “sold to” easily. They need to believe in something to purchase it. And Millennials, more than any other generation, use multiple sources of information to form their opinions. For example, they’ll look to reviews, comments, friends’ opinions, and more to decide what products they can trust.
Millennials love to be involved and feel a part of a community with a brand. They often want to feel they are a part of co-creating something useful or relevant.
So find ways to include them…. Ask their advice via Instagram comments, engage in polls in your Instagram Stories. Maybe do a giveaway or contest for the best idea. Millennials will give you GREAT ideas, and they’ll also feel a part of a community. That’s a huge win for both of you.
So, whether you grab their attention via Instagram, Facebook, or email marketing, Millennials want to know your “why.” They want to hear your story because that’s largely what draws them in. Once you’ve drawn them in, they’ll stay if you continue to offer them great customer service and a great product.
Influencer Marketing is a great way to catch them because the influencer is often sharing your story with them as well as a personal note about why they love the product or service. Here’s a recent article on Influencer Marketing if you want to learn more about that. Influencer marketing is a new word of mouth tactic that has worked very well with Millennials and Gen Z. Additionally, brand ambassador programs are hugely effective if positioned correctly.
Speaking of Gen Z, AKA anyone born between 1996 and 2010, it is a BIG generation, outnumbering Millennials by about a million. Gen Z is also the first truly digital generation from birth. Gen Z-ers spend almost 75% of their leisure time online. Let. That. Sink. In. That’s a lot of time! They’re constantly bombarded by content and advertising and have been their whole lives, so a lot of it can easily become white noise.
Gen Z, more than any other generation, sees technology as a tool for social change. Unlike Millennials who have historically complained online, Gen Z makes moves.
Gen Z wants to change the world, and brands will need to take note. Social and environmental causes have been a big deal for Millennials, but they are almost necessary for Gen Z. Think sea turtles and plastic straws. Gen Z has made HUGE moves in changing brands, and we aren’t talking small companies. We’re talking Starbucks, American Airlines, and United to name a few.
All this to say, marketers must think about social causes when engaging with Gen Z-ers. They want to know you care about waste, fair wages, sustainability, and other causes. So show them that you do.
They’re not reading the paper or watching cable… but you can grab them on SnapChat, Tik Tok, and Instagram. And get some influencers on board with your team.
So again, where are your people? Go there. What works for one age can make another one run, so learn about them and meet them where they’re at. Here’s a recent article that highlights the amount of time each generation is spending on different platforms.
And as always, if you need help, you know where to find us. 😉