February 28, 2012
There are fundamental experiences we share as a collective generation – experiences that shape what our values are, how we prefer to communicate, what we buy, and what factors influence those buying decisions most.
Understanding these differences is at the heart of generational marketing.
In this first in a three-part series, we’ll explore the psyche of perhaps the most misunderstood of the generations, Generation Y, and how to most effectively market to them.
Seventy-one million strong with ages ranging from 16 to 33, Gen Y has been shaped by the Internet, ecommerce, 9-11, the Oklahoma City bombing, reality TV and digital music.
They’ve already had a profound impact on society.
For starters, they have more of their own money to spend than prior generations in addition to having tremendous influence over their Baby Boomer parents’ buying decisions, making them immensely powerful.
Gen Y knows no limits. They define their life and feel entitled to everything. Consuming is a hobby, and there isn’t much distinction between need and want. They grew up benefiting from parental guilt over not having enough quality time to spend with them resulting in more material goods.
Convincing them to buy can be simpler than with other segments, if the offer is intriguing.
Due to tragedies like 9-11 and Columbine, they are resolved to cure the world of its problems. Speak to this group about your greater purpose rather than what you’re trying to sell, and you’re more likely to connect.
The average Gen Y child spent five hours a day engaging with media – TV, computers, video games and music. Technology is like breathing to them, so imagine how irritating an outdated or poorly functioning website is to this generation.
Gen Y is relying less on TV as they age. And with digital music taking over radio listenership among this segment, it is increasingly difficult to reach this group through traditional TV and radio ads.
E-mail can be effective if targeted to their unique interests, as Arista Records has proven. By offering free CDs and shirts, this company effectively motivated droves of Gen Y fans to each send Arista e-mails to 10 of their friends.
Gen Y responds well when they feel they’ve stumbled across your message by themselves. So, talk to Gen Y in their environment. Red Bull enlists well-connected students to create buzz on college campuses by talking up the brand and throwing Red Bull parties. Sneaker manufacturer Vans markets to Gen Y by building skate parks for them. There’s no hard sell there.
What concerns them most? Being accepted by their peers and respected by all.
Want to tick them off? Talk down to them, deliver a phony sales pitch to them or give them disappointing technology.
How do you get them excited? Use humor and irony, show your brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, make them feel older and respected, and encourage them to break the rules.
For most companies, Gen Y is a vast untapped market. Figure out how to build relationships with them or you may risk brand irrelevancy.
Lori Turner is managing partner at RedRover Sales & Marketing, http://www.redrovercompany.com
(Check the previous posts for more information on Generational Marketing!)
February 28, 2012
As a member of Generation X, I can appreciate why our generation is characterized as having a survivor mentality. In this second column in a three-part series on generational marketing, we look at the collective experiences that shape the way Gen Xers think, believe, buy, and ultimately, how to market most effectively to them.
Born from 1965 to 1976, now ages 34 to 45, Xers are entering their peak earning years and, more importantly, haven’t yet formed strong brand alliances. That’s why brands are prioritizing their Gen X marketing strategy.
Skeptical and pragmatic, Xers have witnessed crumbling political, corporate and family structures. They saw the Berlin Wall fall. Also dismantled were millions of families, as this generation’s Baby Boomer parents were hit hard by recessions and corporate downsizing. The result is Xers who lost faith in corporations and the institution of marriage – thus the “survivor” characterization.
With rising divorce rates and financial uncertainty, more Xers were latchkey kids raised by working (and often single) parents.
Essentially raising themselves, they developed a steely self-reliance. At the same time, feeling orphaned as latchkey kids, Xers want you, as marketers, to prove you’re willing to invest in a relationship.
MTV and radio were surrogate parents for Xers. So, savvy marketers often evoke nostalgia with this generation’s music.
Xers are tech savvy. From the bag phone to the iPhone; from vinyl to digital music; from the Tandy 1000 to the MacBook, Xers are able to adapt to rapid changes. And they thrive on technological stimuli – laptop, cell phone, iPad, social media. Without it, they’re bored.
So with all of these dramatic life changes, it’s no wonder they embrace risk and question authority.
With a strong work ethic, they gravitate toward leadership roles. Many Xers are entrepreneurs, choosing to make their own way rather than trusting corporate entities. In fact, Xers have started more than two-thirds of U.S. businesses.
Because Xers are less comfortable with debt and feel less secure in their finances, they value a good value. And, when they find it, they will tell their friends in droves.
How do you reach Xers? Word of mouth is strongest. After that, go for e-mail, Internet including social media, and multi-media. Direct mail for this segment is more effective than with Gen Yers and less effective than with Boomers.
When messaging Xers be straightforward, even using sound bites. This is a problem-solving generation, so show consumers how your product or service solves a real problem. And while you don’t want to go into too much detail, do make more information available. Information is power to Gen X.
Gen Xers see themselves as driven, hard-working leaders who need to stay connected to technology. Marriott Hotels gets it. Targeting Xers with experiencemarriott.com, the site builds a relationship using audio and video. Interactive virtual hotel tours appeal to tech-savvy users. The marketing messages have a clear Gen X slant, such as “Where the driven stay connected 24/7.”
If 34- to 45-years-olds are a strong demographic for your business, why market to them as if they’re Boomers or Gen Yers? X marks the spot.
Lori Turner is managing partner, RedRover Sales & Marketing, http://www.redrovercompany.com
(Check the previous post for more information on Generational Marketing!)
February 28, 2012
How are you marketing to the generation that represents nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population and a whopping 80 percent of personal financial assets?
In this final column in a three-part series on generational marketing, we look at our nation’s largest generation – baby boomers – named for the post-WWII boom in births.
Born from 1946 to 1964, now ages 46 to 64, baby boomers share fundamental experiences such as economic prosperity, postwar optimism, suburban expansion, the sexual revolution, and rock and roll. These experiences shaped their values, how they shop and how they respond to your marketing.
Young boomers saw life as full of possibilities; the economy was solid and jobs were plentiful. There was a radio, and ultimately a TV, in nearly every living room. Able to put a man on the moon, boomers felt entitled to enjoyment and fulfillment.
Individuality, expressionism, adventure, and a “break the rules” philosophy are classic boomer traits. Music was a way to express their unique generational identity, buying Beatles, Hendrix and Motown albums in droves.
Over time, though, the optimism was shaken by the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., Watergate, the Apollo 13 disaster and the Vietnam War. Boomers began to question authority and conformity.
Opposing discrimination, boomers led the civil rights and women’s movements. Many vehemently opposed the Vietnam War. Protesting was commonplace. Even today, given a worthwhile cause, they’ll fight for it like no other generation.
They enjoyed big jobs, salaries and houses, only to have them stripped away by corporate failures and downsizing. Now they struggle to stabilize their careers and finances before retiring.
What concerns them most? Aging is of great concern. They also feel guilty for not having spent enough time with their kids. Sandwiched between caring for both their kids and parents, they are stressed out and feel spread very thin. Time is a luxury.
Want to offend them? Make them feel passé or call attention to their age unnecessarily.
How do you engage them? Offer products or services that free up their time, improve their appearance or contribute to greater energy or better health. Offer experiences to enjoy with their children or grandchildren. Half of boomers have grandkids they like spending money on.
Nothing beats face-to-face communication when selling to boomers. This generation also relies heavily on referrals from trusted social and professional advisers. Direct mail, e-mail and the Internet are also very effective.
Ameriprise Financial got it right with TV spots featuring Dennis Hopper and Steve Winwood’s emotionally charged song “Gimme Some Lovin.’” Boomers see Hopper as willing to challenge himself, uncompromising and just really cool – a boomer trifecta. Combine this with generationally targeted messages such as, “Your generation is definitely not headed for Bingo night,” and you have a hit. The result – nearly a 30 percent increase in brand awareness and an 11 percent increase in boomer clients.
Now that’s a boomer strategy you can take to the bank.
Lori Turner is managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, http://www.redrovercompany.com.
Audi – “Vampire Camp”
Teleflora — “Give and Receive”
Go Daddy — “Body Paint”