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Is Generational Marketing Sufficient for Today's Consumer?

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Most Gen Z consumers aren’t interested in advertisements for hearing aids and Medicare. Consumers in their golden years don’t need ads for baby formula and diapers. It’s clear that generational marketing can be somewhat useful in the right circumstances. But is segmenting your audience based on age enough? For super-targeted marketing, the answer is no.

Generalizing your target audience just because they fit within a certain age range or generation isn’t always effective. While it might be a good place to ignite your marketing efforts, brands should treat it as one piece of a much larger segmentation strategy. 

Let’s explore the purpose of generational marketing and how it can supplement your consumer insights.

What Is Generational Marketing?

Generational marketing refers to dividing your audience into age groups, or generations, instead of other demographics like geographic location, income, or gender, for example. Common generations include:

  • Baby Boomers (individuals born in the 1940s through the mid-1950s)
  • Gen X (individuals born in the 1960s to the early 1980s)
  • Millennials (individuals born in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s)
  • Gen Z (individuals born in the 2000s)

 

The goal is to tailor your marketing (especially content marketing) to appeal to specific generations. This appeal is driven by generalizations about a particular generation, including their motivations, behaviors, preferences, challenges, and habits.

What Purpose Does Generational Marketing Serve?

Marketing to Gen Z

Each generation has unique marketing opportunities. They’re accustomed to different types of content formats and spend their time online in different ways. When you know where your target market falls age-wise, you can make better decisions on how to create content in formats that they like and engage with.

For example, Millennials and Gen Z are the digitally native generations and grew up around the digital technologies we have today. They’re more likely to watch videos about a topic, whereas older generations are more likely to read an article on the same topic.

It’s no secret that brands need to go where their audience goes. But if you’re creating YouTube videos for an audience that rarely spends time on YouTube, you’re going to have a much harder and costlier time reaching them. 

That’s where generational marketing basics can come in handy. Humans are complicated beings, but research has shown a number of trends and characteristics that certain age groups tend to share. 

According to research, Millennials are 21.7% more likely to be Mac users, 3.1% more likely to be interested in technology, and 11.6% more likely to own an iPhone. Given the insights, it’s clear that Millennials are innovative and cutting edge. Brands might also infer that Millennials may have more disposable income, given that Apple technologies tend to cost more than PCs and Android devices.

These trends don’t speak for everyone in a generational group, of course. But if you notice that the majority of a certain age group prefers the same thing, you can increase your chances of reaching them in impactful ways.

The Shortcomings of Generational Marketing

Generational generalizations can be spot-on in many cases. But they’re not completely perfect. Just because Millennials are more likely to be interested in tech doesn’t mean all Millennials are tech-savvy. Baby Boomers that spend a lot of time with their Gen Z grandchildren may be more up to speed on smartphones and other technology compared to their peers. 

Not all stereotypes are true. When brands put too much stock into generational characteristics, they miss out on other channels and customers they could be targeting. For example, older Millennials will likely share characteristics with younger Gen Xers. Younger Millennials will more closely align with Gen Zers compared to Gen Xers. These differences can certainly influence the products and services that Millennials want, how they find them, and how they make buying decisions.

Generational marketing is limited, plain and simple. It can be a good starting point if you have a low marketing budget or if you need a test audience before doing a larger-scale campaign. But it’s not enough to pilot your marketing strategy. 

A stronger marketing strategy dives deeper than surface-level insights like age. Marketers should aim to get to the heart and mind of their customers to find out their true needs, wants, pain points, desires, behaviors, and preferences. Trends can offer insight into these things, but uncovering trends shouldn’t be the end goal.

Customer Intelligence: A Better Approach to Audience Segmentation

Smarter audience segmentation

Surface-level generational marketing can supplement your marketing strategy. But you need better consumer insights to drive it forward. That’s where customer intelligence comes in. 

Customer intelligence is data-driven consumer insights that come from unsolicited customer feedback from all points of the customer journey. These insights are captured through a customer intelligence platform, like Linkfluence, which can collect and analyze data from multiple sources in real time. 

Brands can collect customer intelligence through a number of channels, including:

  • Surveys
  • Online reviews
  • Website activity
  • Purchase history
  • Social media

 

Combining customer intelligence with other customer feedback, such as solicited feedback surveys and phone calls, brands can get a better understanding of how customers make decisions and what motivates their behaviors.

In terms of audience segmentation, brands can tailor their content marketing to cater to characteristics and preferences beyond age. For instance, consumer data may find hidden connections between target audience members you weren’t looking for. Intelligence seeks to answer questions you haven’t yet thought to ask. It removes some of the guesswork from the content creation and marketing process by helping you segment your audience in new and impactful ways.

Business Benefits of Customer Intelligence

First and foremost, customer intelligence helps you gain a much deeper understanding of your customers. By getting to know your customers on a deeper level, you can expect a number of business benefits.

Create Lookalike Audiences

Customer intelligence helps you define what your ideal customer looks like. You can learn not only their generational nuances, but also other characteristics they share. These might be common interests, job functions, likes and dislikes, content preferences, internet behaviors, or ways they make buying decisions, for example. The more details you have about your best customers, the more information you have to target lookalike audiences.

Predict Future Customer Behavior

Learning more about your customers’ actions and behaviors can help you set expectations for future successes. Customer intelligence can answer questions like who buys from you, why they buy from you, what they buy, when they’re buying it, and how they prefer to buy it. Over time, these common denominators can help you predict your future customers’ behaviors. 

Acquiring new customers can be easier, faster, and less expensive when you know how to approach them. Figuring out what made you so appealing to your existing customers gives you a leg up when launching new customer acquisition campaigns. 

Strengthen Your Content Marketing

Content marketing is one area that benefits from generational marketing generationlizations. For example:

  • One in three Gen Zers want brands to reach out via email, compared to 43% of Millennials
  • Nearly a third of Gen Zers say Instagram is their favorite social media platform
  • Half of Millennials believe user-generated content is more trustworthy than branded content
  • 87% of Millennials and 84% of Baby Boomers use Facebook
  • Gen Xers represent just 23% of online shoppers
  • More than half of Baby Boomers have smartphones
  • Millennials and Gen Zers prefer to watch videos when researching brands and products

 

These are just a few examples of age-related generalizations. They’re great for inspiring your content marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean you should go all in on video if you’re trying to market to Millennials or spend all your ad budget on Facebook ads to reach your senior customers.

It’s important to look for other characteristics that can help you steer your content choices. These connections will either help you find new opportunities to create and share content. Or, they’ll confirm what your generational marketing data has told you all along.

Improve Customer Loyalty

Analyzing customer behaviors and preferences allows you to foster authentic, more meaningful relationships with your buyers. You’re meeting them wherever they are and connecting with them in ways they prefer. As a result, they reward you with repeat purchases, referrals, and engagement.

How Linkfluence Enables Customer Intelligence

Customer intelligence is collected through specialized tools and platforms, like Linkfluence. Our Radarly Consumers Insights platform combines social data with proven market research expertise to learn more about your customers and turn data into insights into actions.

With real-time insights, Linkfluence enables customer intelligence at scale. Learn more about your ideal customers at all times by monitoring millions of online conversations. Linkfluence finds common denominators in the data to learn what people are talking about, how they’re talking about it, and their sentiments behind it. See connections between audience segments — such as interests, topics, trust factors, and more — and go beyond the plain vanilla effects of generational marketing. 

Get a demo and watch how Linkfluence transforms your audience segmentation!

 

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