The amount of online research and blogs about marketing to Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y is overwhelming. Yet, some marketers seem to understand how to talk the generational talk, and others just don't. While I'm not an expert on generational marketing, my business is marketing, so I've thought about, and read a lot about generational marketing. Here's my take on who does it well.
Boomers want to be "Forever Young"
If you're talking to Boomers your message should be ageless. I think Viagra and Cialis get the message. Their ads always use youthful-looking, energetic people who seem to be enjoying life. Another good example is Apple. They do a good job with their advertising. It's ageless. It's about a lifestyle and a state of mind. Apple’s advertising speaks to Boomers --not down to them, or up to them, but directly to them.
Gen X wants it straight - no hype
My observation of the Gen X crowd, and from what I know of my family who are Gen X’ers, is they tend to research a lot while they're shopping online. They read reviews and visit more opinion sites than Boomers. From what I see, Gen X’ers are turned off by ad hype, overstatement and they keep a constant lookout for hypocrisy and self-importance. That's why advertisers who use self-mockery appeal to them. In my opinion, web sites like Amazon and Zappos lead the pack for online marketing to Gen X. Both sites meet their needs for thoughtfulness about spending money and ease of access to what they're searching for.
If you're talking to Gen X, I suggest using social media as part of your marketing strategy. Marketing people I've talked with suggest a couple of tactics: Ramp up your presence on Yelp and other opinion web sites, and also use keyword search engine advertising.
Gen Y loves blogging and bloggers
The new mommy bloggers are Gen Y. (One of my Gen Y colleagues told me The Parents Network mentioned that 68 percent of all births are to Gen Y moms!) I'm sure that every PR and interactive agency wants to reach the mommy bloggers. Gen Y is all about listening to "influencers", and the most influential people for this generation are bloggers. (Marketers can find Gen Y bloggers on two networks: Brazen Careerist and 20 Something Bloggers.)
If you're talking to Gen Y, I'd also suggest spending a good portion of your ad budget on mobile. Gen Y never leaves home without a cell phone. According to Ad Age, “One-quarter of Facebook’s 400 million users access the site through mobile devices and this set is twice as active than non-mobile users.” As geo-gaming apps like Foursquare and Gowalla take off, I expect we'll see more opportunities to advertise to Gen Y on-the-go. As for who markets well to Gen Y? That's what I'd like you to tell me! Given the fact that Gen Y is strongly attached to mobile apps and bloggers, are marketers doing a good job reaching them now?
ONE LAST THING...
As marketers, it's up to us to try to stay on track with the lightening speed of advancement. Read blogs. Download apps. Keep on talking to people of different generations and find out what advertising they respond to. Hire young people and know what makes them tick. If not, you're risking oblivion for your products and services.