Knowing Your Customers’ Age Range Can Power Your Marketing
Knowing your customers’ age can take your marketing to a new level of effectiveness. Understanding the age range of your potential local customers is extremely valuable because there is considerable difference in purchasing behavior between generations. This value is magnified if your business is a brick-and-mortar retail location dependent upon customers walking into your store.
Marketers have been gaga over Millennials (born 1980-2000) for the past few years as that 80 million-strong generation represents $200 billion in spending power. But Generation X (born 1965-1979), although considerably smaller at around 65 million, has by some estimates the most disposable monthly income to spend of the three primary generations. Boomers, with roughly 74 million members, spend the most across all categories, but many marketers have taken their eye off of this financially powerful age group.
Here are the key pieces of knowledge about each generation you can use to make sure your marketing message is on point:
- Content marketing is a must. Despite the obsession with the visual that video, live streaming, and the selfie culture have created, blog posts are the most consumed type of content across generations. Of course, your content should be tailored to your audience, and certain types of content aren’t effective with any generation. Boomers, Xers, and Millennials all showed little love for white papers. This doesn’t mean they’re not useful in specific situations, but organizations with limited resources should think twice before spending time and money on this type of marketing. Static images are more powerful for GenX and Boomers. GenX and Boomers are more responsive to static images that convey emotions like trust and happiness. Harvard Business Review reported that those aged 18-29 showed lower emotional responses to static images in marketing. They surmised that younger viewers have grown accustomed to more dynamic online content. This this means that live streaming or video marketing may be a more powerful tool to reach young Millennials.You may have the budget for dynamic content marketing, but make no mistake, all generations are big consumers of blog posts. If you have limited resources, that should be your focus in the content arena.
- Different generations consume content at different times. Interestingly, Boomers spend more time consuming content on a weekly basis than Xers or Millennials. They also prefer to digest this content in the morning, while the younger two generations exhibit a greater rate of consumption between 8:00 p.m. and midnight. In fact, 8:00 p.m. to midnight is when the majority of content is consumed overall. Understanding the consumption habits of your target customers allows you to release the right content to the right audience during the hours they’re most likely to read it.
- Social media platform usages changes by generation. All generations use Facebook regularly, with 72% of the entire adult population on the network. Instagram and Tumblr are popular with Millennials, but not frequented as much by the older populations. Knowing where your potential customers spend their social time online means you can spend your marketing dollars on targeted social advertising on the right platform. For obvious reasons, Facebook is often the best bet for most smaller businesses.
- Mobile consumption changes with age. Millennials and GenXers share similar behavior patterns when they consume information, with nearly 70% of that consumption happening on mobile Boomers frequently use mobile devices for directions and restaurant recommendations, but are less likely to consume other types of content via mobile.
- Comments matter to all generations. Word-of-mouth marketing has long been known as the most powerful source of new customers. That power has transferred to the social media realm as comments are incredibly persuasive to all three generations. This means you need to manually review sites, respond to complaints with reactive customer service, and prompt your happy customers to give you positive reviews.
- Boomers still love department stores. Millennials, commonly called “digital natives” because they grew up with technology as part of their everyday life, are more responsive to apps and other online purchasing technology. Boomers still prefer department stores and QVC-type experiences. All generations shop online, and they all show more comfort doing so with a brand whose brick-and-mortar retail locations are familiar to them.
- Millennials are more attracted to a shopping “experience.” Brands like Sephora have excelled because they create an entire experience around shopping, both retail and online. Sephora’s online community is given broad leeway to give honest reviews, making shoppers feel like they’re part of a special group. If your target audience is this younger demographic, think about the experience of shopping in your store. Are you tech friendly? Do you have mobile payment options, digital VIP rewards, and other digital promotions that are easily used at the register? If you’re at a loss for ideas, stop by a Tesla store and check out the interactive displays.
- Gift cards are popular with all generations. Surprisingly, Millennials love gift cards more than the other two generations, but they all show a preference for them. Make sure to have them on display at your retail counters and online.
- GenX spends more money on others than they do themselves. In the midst of raising their families, the middle generation is squarely focused on their family and friends. Although they will periodically indulge themselves, if a large portion of your potential customers are Xers, be sure to have a gift angle to your online marketing, as well as inside and outside of your retail store.
- How your customers want to hear from you. Millennials often discover new products and brands via social media, while Gen Xers are more responsive to email marketing. In-store promotions and data-collection efforts should take this into account.
- In Store digital technology varies by generation. Millennials are not only comfortable with digital signage and promotion, they expect it, and they prefer it be interactive. GenXers are more information focused, and not as expectant of a dynamic experience. Boomers generally are not pulled in by in-store technology.
A great deal of information has been provided by marketing experts and social scientists about generational shopping behaviors. All you need now is the tool to capture the age range of your most likely customers. Great customer service can translate across generations. But understanding the shopping habits and preferences of the generations who are more likely to purchase from you allows you to create an experience that they will enjoy and want to return to.