Debunking Generational Marketing Myths
One of the most straightforward demographics to work with as a marketer is age. People in similar age groups tend to share comparable values, but making sweeping generalizations of entire generations can easily lead to backlash.
Here are some of the most common generational marketing myths we’ve seen recently:
Silent Generation (1928-1945)
Myth: Silent Generation and Boomers are basically the same so they can be grouped together.
Many marketing strategies simply combine anyone 55+ into the same group. But these two generations have totally different values and should be kept separate. The Silent Generation was shaped by World War II and the Great Depression, so they are much more disciplined in their purchasing compared to their successors. Even though they are one of the wealthiest generations, they tend to be more economically frugal and save their money.
Myth: Silent Generation doesn’t care about brands
The Silent Generation values brand loyalty more than other generations. Chances are they have been using the same barber shop, grocery store, and auto shop for decades. When it comes to this generation, it’s better to focus your efforts on retention. Get more customers that have already purchased from your dealership to come back.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Myth: Baby Boomers are bad with Technology
Studies have found that Baby Boomers use technology just as much as millennials. Yes, you read that right. But, even though the amount is the same, they use technology differently. While Millennials often find themselves glued to Instagram or Twitter, Boomers have another guilty pleasure: email.
A whopping 95% of Boomers regularly use email. Many reported checking their email when they get home from work, on the weekend, and even while on vacation.
Myth: Boomers don’t shop online
We’ve already established that this generation doesn’t shy away from the internet, and this includes researching and purchasing products. Let’s look at some numbers to hone in on why it matters for your marketing.
92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores.
96% of baby boomers use search engines.
About 60% spend time reading blogs and online articles as a source of information
70% enjoy watching videos about products and services
Gen X (1965-1980)
Myth: Gen X is too small of a demographic to care about
Fated to always be the middle child between the two largest generations, Gen X is often the forgotten generation. In fact, 54% of this generation feel like they are underrepresented in marketing campaigns.
Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that as long as they market to Boomers and Millennials, Gen Xers will resonate with one or the other. Gen X makes up 25% of the US population and they have the highest spending power of all living generations, yet their unique purchasing values are still often overlooked.
Gen X are creatures of early 90s angst and they were in the peak of their careers when the financial crisis hit. So even though they are at the peak of their earning and spending years, they still put saving as a high priority. You can align with this by appealing to their financial responsibility in your messaging.
Myth: Gen X prefers old school advertising.
Studies have shown that Gen X might be even more addicted to their smartphones than younger generations. This includes their social media usage. Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks.
Gen X is also heavily switching from traditional TV to online content, with 75% of them regularly using YouTube, accounting for over 1.5 billion views every day.
Myth: Ditch the desktop, it’s all about mobile for Millennials
While it’s true that mobile use is rising, the majority of millennials still use desktop along with mobile and tablet. Your website and social pages should be optimized for all three.
Being mobile-first does not mean they are mobile-exclusive. With many millennials working from their computers, studies have shown that their desktop usage exceeds mobile during the daytime, but is switched back to mobile and tablets in the evening and early mornings.
Myth: Millennials are desensitized to advertisements
Okay, this one is partially true. Millennials see an average of 2,094 banner ads per month. That’s A LOT. As a result of this sensory overload, millennials have gotten really good at ignoring whatever looks like an ad. Though they are more resilient, they aren’t immune to ads entirely. They respond better to ads that aren’t as invasive. 60% of Millennials say they are influenced by social media and find it more credible when making purchasing decisions. Many social advertising options flow seamlessly with what they are viewing, and are much more likely to catch their attention – especially when they use the power of influencers.
Gen Z (1996-2012)
Myth: Gen Z are too young or don’t have money to buy a vehicle.
Gen Z aren’t little kids anymore. Many of them are already graduated and in the workforce. For those who aren’t working full time, it’s easy to assume they would opt for the cheapest options in their purchases, regardless of value. But that is missing the point. Gen Zs aren’t into shopping for the lowest price option so much as they’re into getting better value for the money they spend.
Myth: Gen Z are only receptive to advertising that speaks to a cause they support.
In a study done by Essence Global, they surveyed Gen Zers to ask what made an ad memorable to them; “related to a cause I support” came in 4th place. They found other aspects to be more important like making them laugh and having good music choices.
Supporting a cause isn’t a bad thing, but brands must make sure that there is a clear and authentic link between them and their cause. They also need to watch their tone, as Gen Z doesn’t like to feel guilt-tripped or lectured to.
Of course, even these are generalizations. Learn more about your audience through evaluating your own data. You can learn their purchasing behaviors and what kind of messaging they respond to best. You can learn more about that here.