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Generational Marketing: Discover the Techniques That Best Appeal to Your Target Audience

Generational Marketing

In a world that is increasingly cluttered with sales pitches, the most successful marketing campaigns are targeted to specific demographics and appeal to their values, preferences, and sensitivities rather than casting a wide net. Consider creating campaigns catering to the generation of your ideal customer. The four generations that encompass the majority of today’s buyers are Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. You have probably heard of all of these generations, but what do you know about their buying habits?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these four generations in this post. And please keep in mind that the characteristics mentioned below are general observations about the generations. There are certainly people who buck the trends of their generation’s traits.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, so they are currently 57 to 75 years old. There are approximately 71.6 million Baby Boomers in the United States. Chief characteristics of Baby Boomers include a strong work ethic and discipline, self-assured and competitive personalities, and team-oriented behavior at work, in the family sphere, and among friends.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are loyal to brands, so implementing customer loyalty programs speaks to this generation. Out of all of the generations mentioned in this post, they are the least likely to make a purchase on a smartphone or other mobile device. They typically want to talk to a “real person” before they buy. However, they don’t like intrusive selling techniques (don’t make a sales call during dinnertime!). They look favorably on traditional ads, such as TV and newspaper ads. They regard Facebook and email ads as spammy, and they aren’t likely to read your company’s long-form blog post. When crafting content with Baby Boomers in mind, stick to articles that are, at most, 300 words long.

Gen X

Gen X encompasses those born between 1965 and 1980, currently ages 41 to 56. There are 65.2 million Gen Xers in the United States. While Baby Boomers are team-oriented, Gen Xers are commonly seen as individualistic and self-sufficient. As the first generation to be raised in families where, in many cases, both parents worked outside the home, they have been accustomed to caring for themselves since before reaching adulthood.

Marketing to Gen X

Gen X includes many parents saving up for their children’s college tuition, upgraded homes, vacations, vehicles, and other major expenses of middle life. They are also in their prime professional years. So this busy and budget-conscious generation responds well to coupons, email marketing, and direct mail advertisements, too. Seeing themselves as having overcome challenges and obstacles in their lives and sympathizing with the plight of others, they highly value “do-good,” mission-oriented brands.


Millennials, also known as members of Gen Y, were born between 1981 and 1996. Millennials are currently 25 to 40 years old. There are approximately 72.1 million Millennials in the United States. Millennials are typically seen as having been pampered by their parents. Common traits attributed to Millennials include confidence, ambition, impulsiveness, and willingness to challenge the status quo.

Marketing to Millennials

This generation values innovation and social proof. Unsurprisingly, 90 percent of Millennials are social media users, so social media platforms are effective spaces to market to Millennials. In fact, 66 percent of Millennials follow companies on Twitter and 64 percent follow companies on Facebook with the specific purpose of receiving coupons and discount codes. However, brick-and-mortar stores are still a significant part of Millennials’ shopping experience and preferences.

When marketing to Millennials on social media, keep in mind that, as a whole, this generation gravitates toward aesthetically pleasing, “curated” content. As they put a lot of trust in their peers and experts to guide their buying decisions, including reviews and user impressions of your company’s products and services on your website and social media accounts is a must when marketing to Millennials. Radio and podcast commercials are also effective ways to reach this generation of consumers.

Millennials have been known to buy on impulse and spend more than all other generations on travel and experiences. This group also spends abundantly in restaurants, often preferring to dine out rather than cook.

Gen Z

Gen Z is the newest generation of buyers, born between 1997 and 2015. They are currently 6 to 24 years old, and there are nearly 68 million members of Gen Z in the United States.  Gen Z is the most diverse generation and also the first “digital natives.” Whereas Millennials are commonly seen as dreamers who take financial risks, Gen Zers are seen as financially savvy, pragmatic consumers, even at their young age.

Marketing to Gen Z

Because Gen Z is still young, their generational identity and consumer behavior are likely to change as they mature into adults. At present, however, Gen Z is very community-oriented and tends to “vote with their dollars,” so including upstanding influencers who embody brand values and making sure your company’s mission is front and center in your marketing communications will help win over this generation of buyers. Consistent with their budding financial-mindedness, they do their research before they buy. However, their youthfulness comes through in their attraction to the bold, the zany, and the weird—which contrasts the Millennials’ preference for perfectly curated social media feeds. Keep Gen Z’s attention (which is commonly divided and quick to wane) by including short, entertaining videos in your marketing that let your brand’s voice and personality shine through.


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