17 Nov Using Generational Marketing for Strategic Engagement
Marketers can and should strategically approach their audiences by understanding which social media platforms and types of content resonate best with certain age groups. This is where “generational marketing” comes in, which is a marketing approach that recognizes generations as archetypes in order to better appeal to them. Currently, differences between the four most relevant generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z—vary vastly, particularly due to the role of the internet and advancing technology in each age group’s life.
By understanding generational trends, behaviors, and purchase decisions, brands can better cater their marketing strategies to the demographic they are targeting. This quick and easy guide will outline how businesses can differentiate their marketing tactics and messaging depending on varying age groups.
Current Generations and their Primary Behaviors
Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) – aged 56 to 74
Typically, this age group tends to be less digitally savvy. This makes sense given that the internet only became a globally commercial network in the 1990s, and was immediately followed with rapidly evolving digital growth. By this point, Boomers were already well into adulthood, and thus likely had a harder time learning how to navigate the online space.
In terms of social media, Boomers tend to stick to more traditional platforms, with Facebook following the lead. Studies show that Baby Boomers primarily use Facebook to connect with old friends and family members. Among the current popular social media platforms, Facebook is one of the oldest, and thus the Boomer generation are likely most acquainted and comfortable with this platform.
Due to the fact that Boomers primarily use Facebook for its connectivity, marketers can capitalize on this by using Facebook’s community-oriented features like Pages or Groups to directly engage and start conversations with them. Brands can also create an organic social media strategy to maintain a consistent presence on the platform and connect with customers. They should also be sure to invest in using Facebook Ads to target this demographic, as Facebook has one of the most robust and cost-effective social media ads platforms.
Gen X (1965 – 1980) – aged 40 to 55
Gen X’ers are considered to be the generation with the highest brand loyalty, though because of this, they also tend to be less open to trying new brands in the same way that younger generations are.
Though this generation is becoming more comfortable with using social media platforms, they still prefer email marketing as the main channel when corresponding with or receiving messaging from businesses. When it comes to social media, Gen X’ers primarily uses Facebook and Twitter to follow brands, and rely on YouTube when discovering new products.
Gen X’ers reliance on email marketing could be a direct result of this demographic having high brand loyalty and retention. The positive response to email marketing may stem from this generation’s willingness to read more long-form content delivered straight to their inbox. As well, many of these users are already plugged into or frequently check their email for work and personal updates. With these factors in mind, brands can optimize on Gen X’s preferred channel by creating email marketing campaigns. When considering how to improve brand loyalty, businesses can also ensure that they are focusing on elevating their customer service, and can use social media platforms like Facebook to directly interact with customers.
Gen Y/Millennials (1981 – 1996) – aged 24 to 39
Currently, Millennials’ ages range from early 20s to late 30s, which means that they are currently the major economic force in society.
Interestingly, Millennials are more receptive by influencers and influencer marketing than other generations, and are also more receptive to online purchasing. Advocacy and referrals is the major driving factor behind buying behaviors for Millennials. For example, one study showed that three out of four Millennials perform extensive research before deciding on a purchase, such as searching for online reviews, seeking recommendations from family and friends, and looking at user ratings. In terms of preferred social platforms, Facebook is both used for following brands and discovering new products.
Millennials trust each other’s opinions, so it makes sense that influencer marketing— which is getting the opinion of a credible figure or someone they respect—is effective. Marketers who are targeting this age group can optimize on this factor by using influencer marketing campaigns, featuring ratings, testimonials, and reviews more heavily on their website, and creating user generated content campaigns on their social media platforms.
Gen Z (born 1997 – 2015) – aged 5 to 23
According to CNBC, Gen Z’ers —whose ages place them as the teenagers and current youth—have “abandoned traditional viewing” and instead consume media and digital content on their phones, laptops, and tablets. On average, they spend more than three hours a day watching videos online. This also means that they are more connected to social platforms, which means that social media-based marketing campaigns are more likely to reach this group. They are considered the most diverse generation and have high efficiency with technology, which makes sense seeing as most Gen Z’ers were either born into the digital era or have grown up with advanced digital access since early childhood.
When it comes to preferred social media channels, this generation is most active on Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Instagram is used most when discovering brands, and YouTube is preferred for discovering new products.
A common denominator between these three platforms is that they are primarily video and image-based. Therefore, marketers who are catering to this demographic should focus on creating more visual and entertainment-based content in order to more effectively capture Gen Z’ers attention. Marketers can even use video-based features on Instagram such as Reels, Stories, and Live Videos. Other avenues for brands can be to make use of Snapchat’s Ad creation platform or invest in YouTube advertising.
Most Popular Social Media Platforms
Facebook is the most-used social media platform by all age groups. Here is the age breakdown of users on Facebook:
- 88% are 18 to 29 year-olds
- 79% are 30 to 49 year-olds
- 61% are 50 to 64 year-olds
- 36% are 65 years old and above
Instagram is most popular among young people. Here is the age breakdown of users on Instagram:
- 59% are 18 to 29 year-olds
- 31% are 30 to 49 year-olds
- 13% are 50 to 64 year-olds
- 5% are 65 years old and above
Lastly, Twitter is moderately followed by all age groups. Here is the age breakdown of users on Twitter:
- 36% are 18 to 29 year-olds
- 22% are 30 to 49 year-olds
- 18% are 50 to 64 year-olds
- 6% are 65 years old and above
These findings indicate that the majority percentage of users on social media platforms tend to be 18 – 29 years old. Marketers can analyze these statistics to better understand which platforms align best with their business goals and target demographics.
It has also been observed that, overall, video is an increasingly popular tool across generations who are looking to learn more about a new product. A study by Social Media Today shows that the majority of Gen X’ers, Millennials, and Gen Z’ers trust brands who use videos explaining their products more than those who don’t. Marketers can make use of videos to build credibility and increase engagement and brand awareness.
Even if your brand is targeting a specific age group, we encourage marketers to take on an approach that is ultimately inclusive of audiences even beyond those outside that generation. Catering to a certain age group should not have to include messaging that actively excludes or puts down other age groups.
Whether using a single or multi-channel digital marketing approach, marketers can analyze generational behaviors to help understand which platforms best resonate with their target audience.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use social media marketing to strengthen your brand’s online presence, book a consultation with one of our experts today!Book your 30-minute consultation today!