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How to Market to Different Generations

July 20th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The economy is still uncertain, but not every generation is feeling the same way about it. If you’re marketing to baby boomers and Millennials with the same approach, you’re making a big mistake. According to a survey conducted for Minyanville, there is a persistent optimism gap between baby boomers and the Millennial generation.

Even though Millennials (aged 18 to 34) are suffering from 12 percent unemployment, they report more optimism than those over 55. For example, just 10.86 percent of Millennials say now is a bad time to make a major purchase, compared to 15.1% of those over 55.

Millennials are also more optimistic that their financial position will improve in the next year (25.12%) and less likely to think that it will get worse (12.86%). By comparison, those over 55 are almost twice as likely (23.06%) to say they expect their financial situation will get worse over the next year.

Why are Millennials so optimistic and baby boomers so pessimistic? Minyanville points out that boomers have lived through a lot of economic turmoil in their lives, from the 1960s Vietnam war era to the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s and the dotcom bubble of the early 2000s. In the most recent Great Recession, much of their retirement savings have been decimated at a time in their lives when they have less time to replace the lost funds. By contrast, Millennials have their whole lives ahead of them, with their youth giving them natural optimism. How can you effectively market to these groups?

Marketing to baby boomers: Play up images of security and stability. Convince boomers your product or service is a good value and worth their hard-earned money. Acknowledge their pessimism but show how your product or service can help them ease their worries, build security or help their families. Ads should create a sense of understanding, respect and value.

Marketing to Millennials: Focus on the future. Millennials expect better things in the future even if their current financial situations are tough, so offering pay-later options or a monthly payment plan may increase your product’s appeal. Experiences are a selling point for Millennials, so emphasize how your product or service creates memories, offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience or can be shared with their friends.  Ads should create a sense of happiness, optimism and fun.

Image by Flickr user Digitized Chaos (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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