Generational Marketing Basics: How to Cater to Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z

Generational Marketing Basics: How to Cater to Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z

Oftentimes, many businesses fail not because of a faulty product or service—but simply because they are targeting the wrong market. 

In fact, there's no shortage of examples of advertising in the wrong markets. One of them is faulty generational marketing, or targeting the wrong age group. 

As different generations discover information through various channels, many shut down due to the lack of proper promotion. To avoid these situations, every company must properly research and understand their market. You can’t exactly market alcohol or cigarette-related products to underage youths. Similarly, you can’t solely market school supplies or toys to millennials or gym equipment or streetwear to baby boomers.

In this article, we will be tackling three generations of consumers: Generation X, Generation Y, and Gen Z. By getting to know each group and knowing what marketing efforts work for them, you’ll be able to achieve business success in no time.

Generation X

Generation X refers to people who were born between 1965-1980. They are also defined as the generation before millennials and after baby boomers. Data shows that 80% of this group know how to use social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and other applications. Despite their knowledge of more modern platforms, they may still not be accustomed to purchasing products from online business owners today. However, in our current setting today where the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing everyone from leaving their home, more and more Gen X people are becoming open to the idea of online shopping. 

With this in mind, businesses should continue to use social media to reach Gen X consumers. When posting marketing collateral online, it would be best to schedule content at night as more Gen X people would access news and other meaningful content for them around that time. Keep in mind that most of them also enjoy posts related to entertainment and lifestyle. Of course, this does not mean that posts cannot be scheduled in the morning or afternoon anymore, but posting at night is rather more advisable. 

You can also advertise your products to them through television programs and commercials, newspapers, and magazines.

If a business has been around for years, it is easier to gain the trust and loyalty of the customer. For the people in Generation X, it is likely that they will stick to products that have been around or used for years in comparison to younger consumers who are more willing to try out new brands. As technology has advanced through several different platforms, one famous brand that has secured the loyalty of the general public is Apple. When the iPhone launched in 2007, the age range of Generation X were younger, as their target market is aimed at the age of 20-45. This makes the consumers feel more comfortable with the brand, especially with various new products coming out each year and promised updates every few months.

Generation Y

Generation Y, also known as the “millennials”, are those born from 1981-1999, and have a deeper grasp of the use of social media than Generation X. Millennials grew up at the infancy of the internet era, making them more accustomed to learning about new technologies and internet platforms. As they are also gaining awareness of online businesses, there are many millennials who are putting up their own companies as well. Similar to Generation X, they prefer to read content during nighttime, so you should schedule your advertisements and other marketing content later in the day as well. Social media should be the main focus of your advertising, but you can also utilize broadcasting programs and magazines. 

To influence millennials to purchase your product, you can take advantage of nostalgia marketing to bring positive emotions to your target audience and touch their hearts. With the use of the brand’s history, social media, and detail, it can invoke collective memories that can take the audience into a time they once enjoyed, and can influence them to purchase the product. 

For example, many millennials today are fond of playing video games using consoles from Nintendo since they grew up using the same brand as well. Knowing that their now older consumers enjoy looking back at the good old days and remembering the simple times, Nintendo releases modified and remasters old-school games and consoles every few years with smoother graphics and more advanced functionalities to fit with the times.

For example, Nintendo’s plan to launch mini versions of its vintage gaming systems in 2016 became an avenue for the company to also promote their latest game system, which was the Nintendo Switch. Former Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said in a press briefing in 2017 that they saw the nostalgic interest in their old products as an opportunity to draw consumers’ attention to the Switch.

The strategy proved to be successful as within two years, Nintendo was able to sell 19.6 million Nintendo Switch units. In turn, the company rose from their financial and operational losses and returned to being one of the top gaming manufacturers in the world.

Generation Z

Generation Z are those born from 2001 to the present. They heavily take advantage of social media in discovering new pieces of information through visual content. They are more technologically aware and knowledgeable of what interests them, especially with online shopping. Through the use of e-commerce sites such as Lazada and Shopee in the Philippines, as well as Instagram and Facebook, they can discover what interests them and purchase products easily. 

Many Gen Z consumers are active throughout the day, but even more so at night. So when you want to post content catering to them, make sure to do it later in the day as well. You may also frequently use your social media platforms to market your products to them.

One way you can further gain their attention is by making your advertisements interactive. For instance, in 2014, Coca-Cola came up with a project called “Share a Coke” where they replaced their brand name with one of the 250 most popular American names on the labels of 20-ounce bottles. This campaign became highly successful as consumers became fond of buying and holding a Coke bottle with names that are personally valuable to them. 

In the Philippines, Coca-Cola also launched physical tours wherein they put up booths in malls, supermarkets, and even schools and invited consumers to have a personalized Coke bottle made for them. Apart from that, the company also made a digital version of this event wherein consumers could have a customized bottle made online, which they can then share to their friends and family through social media. This made a lot of Filipinos respond positively to the campaign in both real life and online, creating awareness towards the project. This is an example of an interactive activity that other businesses can take inspiration from as well.

With the general public seeking information from various sources, it becomes harder for businesses to come up with a marketing strategy that all generations will comprehend. This is why companies must budget and allocate money wisely for them to reach their target market. For anyone who is just learning about Marketing, this could be beneficial in knowing the target market and awareness of social media applications towards all generations. The younger a generation is, the more likely they use social media. As for older generations, while they may use social media, businesses should advertise in newspapers, magazines, and the like.

-Written by Brian De Ocampo

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