5 Things NOT to Do With Your Generational Marketing

5 Multi-Generational Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Are you in tune with what different generations of shoppers want? Probably not: A recent survey reports marketers are often off base about what matters most to different generations.

A Blueprint for Using Audience Insights in Marketing Strategies surveyed both marketers and consumers, with the consumers segmented into four age groups: Centennials (age 18-21), millennials (age 22-37), Generation X (age 38-52) and baby boomers (age 53-71). What the poll found might surprise you.

Multi-Generational Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Here are five things not to do when using generational marketing, and five best practices for reaching different age groups.

1. Don’t assume the youngest consumers are pinching pennies. Marketers in the survey assume that Centennials are the most price-conscious, followed by millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. Consumers, however, ranked themselves exactly opposite: Baby boomers are the most price-conscious, followed by Gen X and millennials; Centennials are the most likely to value quality over low prices.

2. Don’t believe email is for old people. Marketers in the survey think baby boomers are the age group most influenced by email. Actually, it’s millennials, followed by Gen X and baby boomers. (Centennials don’t really care about email marketing.)

3. Don’t give up on direct mail. Almost eight in 10 (78 percent) of marketers have written direct mail off; they say it doesn’t influence purchasing for any demographic. In reality, however, 56 percent of all consumers and 59 percent of baby boomers say direct mail influences their purchases.

4. Don’t forget about your in-store marketing. Consumers rank in-store marketing as the single most influential marketing channel — above online marketing, email and direct mail. With 81 percent of consumers saying they value the in-store experience when researching purchases, your in-store marketing can be the key factor in convincing the customer to buy.

5. Don’t settle for generic marketing campaigns. With such different factors motivating different generations, it’s important for your marketing messages to be personalized to the consumer, the report notes. Personalization should go beyond using the recipient’s name in an email. Today, even small businesses can access several types of data they can use to personalize marketing to consumers. A few the report cites include demographic information, purchasing behavior, browsing behavior, email activity, social media usage and loyalty program data. The more personalized your marketing messages are, the more they’ll stand out from a sea of marketing offers, and the more effective they’ll be.

Finally, the report offers business owners these suggestions for personalizing marketing based on the consumer’s age. Start with email. It’s an easy way to test the results of generational personalization. Use different subject lines, headers, products, offers and images to target different age groups.

  • For baby boomers: Focus on special offers and discounts, since this age group is highly motivated by price.
  • For Generation X: Basic email personalization such as the user’s name and age-specific product recommendations will help make the sale.
  • For millennials: This age group is motivated by loyalty programs, social media marketing and email marketing. Why not email updates on how these customers are doing with their loyalty points, send them loyalty offers or share opportunities to upgrade their loyalty status?
  • For Centennials: This group expects more personalized marketing than any other age group. Their most influential marketing channels are social media and in-store experiences. Use your social media and email marketing campaigns to drive Centennials to your store for special events and other unique experiences they can’t get by shopping online.

Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.