It is a truism in the marketing and advertising world that you must understand your audience to market effectively. Marketing demographic data can supply important information about your ideal target market. And, of course, age is one of the most significant factors to consider.
On the whole, different age groups have different interests, values, incomes, and buying patterns. To most fully grasp the age distribution of the market, we must consider recent and accurate data.
When thinking about age demographics, it is helpful to think in terms of generations. While generational divisions are always somewhat arbitrary, demographers normally recognize 4-5 different generations. These are Matures (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X-ers (born between 1965 and 1980), Millennials/ Gen Y-ers (born between 1981 and 2001), and iGen/Gen Z-ers (born after 2001).
Important points to consider
- The 55+ age group is the most rapidly growing in Canada and the U.S., and it will continue this growth pattern for the foreseeable future.
- The younger end of the age spectrum (millennials and younger) is more diverse than the older end. That diversity is expected to increase over time.
- Millennials and younger coming into their buying power tend to fall into niche markets, and are thus harder to reach with conventional marketing (compared to baby boomers).
Tips for marketing to millennials
- Millennials prefer organic marketing to the hard sell.
Instead of being sold on some out-of-reach idea or pretty concept, millennials want to know the reality of the product or service. This demographic prefers seeing real people (or at least realistic people) in real-life situations. And furthermore, they want to come to the product rather than having the product foisted upon them. The ideal way to reach this age group is through word-of-mouth marketing. So encourage your customers and clients to write reviews and participate in your social media marketing campaigns.
- They want to have a say.
Millennials want and expect to be included in developing the identity of a brand if they are going to be loyal to it. So don’t create your product with the assumption that you have understood the needs of your target market. Instead, consult real users every step of the way.
- They equate the shopping experience with entertainment.
Sites like Pinterest make it easy for people to collect the things they like, whether they plan on a near-term purchase or not. For many millennials, the collecting is an enjoyable experience in and of itself. So, if this demographic is your target group, stop thinking of shopping as primarily a means to an end. It may ultimately result in a sale or it may not. And the sale may not be immediate. It may come months later. That’s why so many millennials create wish lists and embrace Pinterest. They don’t necessarily want to buy right now. And they realize that both their interests and financial needs may change over time. Cater to that tendency, and you’ll see better results in the long run.
Tips for Marketing to Baby Boomers
- Baby boomers tend to be loyal to brands.
They’re loyal as long as those brands keep meeting their needs. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get their attention though. If you’re entering a market in which many baby boomers are already committed, just continue to show why your quality and customer interaction are better. Baby boomers commit, but they do leave treasured brands when those brands disappoint. And it’s inevitable that most brands won’t stay the same forever. So be willing to be the shoulder to cry on when something changes. Welcome new consumers with open arms. And show them that you’re concerned about their satisfaction. Like millennials, baby boomers appreciate responsive products that include them in the development process.
- They are on social media, just in different ways than their younger counterparts.
Baby boomers tend to use social media to connect on a very personal and familial level. If they’re your target market, stick to the venues that cater to them. Facebook is number one, because it offers the simplest and most straightforward opportunities to share photos and life events. Twitter is a runner up. To engage with baby boomers, try to get them to like and share your page. Their word often means a lot to their close network of friends.
- Baby boomers tend to have disposable income.
But they have to want to spend it. Don’t assume that their cash will be disposed on luxuries. You must truly work to demonstrate why your product or service is useful and will improve their lives.
Tips for marketing to Gen X-ers
- Generation X is notorious for loving tech and the next big thing.
That’s not inaccurate, but you shouldn’t view them as one-dimensional. If you target your product or service to gen X with the assumption that they’ll jump on anything new or flashy, you’ll be disappointed. In fact, gen X-ers as a group are more concerned with providing for the comfort of their families than with “keeping up with the Jonses.”
- Gen X-ers don’t love being told what to do.
When you market to this demographic, you have to demonstrate that it’s all about choice – their choice. Pushy advertising is a no-go with this group.
- Transparency is important.
Actually, this is important across the board in an age when the internet offers easy research and many options But this demographic is particularly concerned that a company’s image matches what’s inside.
Tips for marketing to Gen Y-ers
- Gen Y-ers have perhaps more influence than any other generation.
This is because of their extensive use of social media. If this is your target market, you need to guard your brand image carefully. A misstep could be disastrous. So pay attention to both product and customer interactions. A bad experience could go viral, but so could a good one. Make sure you’re on the positive end.
- This group is attuned to the pulse of social media, so you should be too.
Stay connected and make sure that both your product and your advertising stay relevant.
- Gen Y-ers are especially concerned with the social and environmental impact of the products and services they use and buy.
Ensure that your company makes the grade by taking an interest in relevant causes.
As for the mature generation, they are at least as brand-loyal as baby boomers, and they tend to be more conservative in their spending habits. Gen Z-ers don’t have a lot of disposable income yet, but their habits will likely be determined by their interaction with social media and mobile technologies.
Regardless of your target age demographic, it is important to think deeply about the way that you are meeting the needs of consumers. In an age where both bad and good experiences are shared instantly, we must constantly evaluate our purpose and execution.