Targeting the Golden Generations: Best Practices in Generational Marketing

We discuss what may motivate or frustrate Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and outline best practices for generational marketing.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Millennials are on every marketer’s radar and for good reason: there are a lot of them and they have spending power. Members of this tech-savvy generation, which came of age in the early 2000s, are professionals, and have provided mountains of insightful content about how to effectively market to their own. So these days, there is much less written about other generations. Understanding what makes them tick can still be critical to your brand’s success.

To better understand those in other generations like Generation X and the Baby Boomer generation, who make up a large part of the population, we’ll look at the era in which each group was raised and how this informs their current buying strategies. To get a clear idea of what motivates them, we will also consider some best practices in generational marketing.

As you read through this, keep in mind how to take these factors into account for your personas. Download our Persona Builder Guide here to help you get started on – or refine – your audience development strategies.

The Baby Boomers

The largest generation grew up furthest from the rise of the internet and digital media. Born roughly between 1946 and 1964, they witnessed the Beatles, Woodstock, and the Apollo moon landing through a brand new, emerging media called television. These events helped to create a free-spirited generation, focused on self-improvement and a rejection of traditional values.

Many Baby Boomers are hitting retirement age, and with their children now out of the house, this generation is spending the most on the newest technologies and is learning more about social media. That being said, the “Boomers” prefer to talk to a real person before making a purchase.

So, now with that background, consider what it takes for the Baby Boomers to make a purchase.

Best Practices for Marketing to Baby Boomers

Choose your words carefully: Don’t you dare use the words “old,” or “senior!” This is the last thing this generation wants to identify as. They want to think about their future goals, staying active and relevant.

Brand loyalty: Remember when Twinkies initially went off the market? You can bet there were some Baby Boomers who went to supermarkets and bought every last box. The majority of baby boomers tend to be more loyal to brands.

Choose your advertising channel wisely: This generation prefers print ads, as they are more tangible than digital ads. Baby Boomers are also more likely to report spam emails.

Less is more: Keep blogs and articles short, as Baby Boomers like content around 300 words.

Small fonts: While they may not like to be called old, their eyesight may not be what it used to. Be sure to use text that is easy to read.

The Generation Xers

Generation X includes those born between 1965 and 1979 and experienced the rise of personal computers, the AIDS epidemic, and rising divorce rates. This generation is at the stage of their lives when they are a little short on cash: they are busy worrying about paying for their kid’s college, making mortgage payments, and saving enough for retirement that’s approaching more quickly than they’d like!

Thus, this generation will be interested in finding a deal and getting a discount. Their experience with personal computers and cellphones make them somewhat tech-savvy. They engage in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and are responsive to email. They also like in-person events and peer gatherings.

Best Practices for Marketing to Generations Xers

Transparency is the best policy: Generation X is not swayed by a flashy, aggressive marketing campaign. They may respond more positively to honesty and transparency.

Low tech channels: Some technology may still be new to Generation X and traditional advertising via direct mail can be effective. That being said, email, video marketing, and social media can work for this generation too.

Pinching pennies: Do not underestimate the almighty coupon or savings deal. An emphasis on how a purchase can save them money in the long run would be a good strategy for making a sale.

Play it safe: Protection of their family, friends, homes, and the environment are of paramount concern to Generation Xers. What doe that mean in B2B? Green and environmentally-friendly brands tend to be attractive to them.

Crafting Your Generational Marketing Strategy

Each generation has been affected by their own set of historical events, economic burdens, and technological advances, which influences their decision-making process and the journey toward a purchase. Arming yourself with this knowledge can help you understand what motivates or irritates your potential customers and craft a brand strategy that best suits your target audience.

Even with these tips in mind, nothing compares to talking directly to your clients and potential customers.

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