Generational Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Business

 In Marketing, Small Business

For some small businesses, particularly those in the retail industry, the holidays are the busiest, most profitable time of the year. To take advantage of this uptick in sales, small businesses need to market themselves accordingly. What we’ve found, though, is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. The four major age groups – Centennials (ages 21 and under), Millennials (ages 22-37), Generation X (ages 38-52), and Baby Boomers (ages 53-71) – each seek to hear about your holiday promotions in different ways. We break down each group’s preferences below.

Centennials: Late and Omnichannel

Centennials tend to shop the latest out of all the age groups, usually from Black Friday to the end of the season. Broken down by percentages, they shop most between Black Friday and Dec. 15 (19%). But, closely, 16% will shop in the final two weeks – between Dec. 16-23. 4% will shop really last-minute – Dec. 24; the Millennials come closest to this percentage with 2%. So Centennials are great targets for any late-season holiday marketing, as most of them make their purchases during the last month and a half of the shopping season.

Of all the generations, Centennial’s preferred marketing channels are the most varied of any age group. They are influenced more than any other group by the channels you’d expect: the mobile site (52%) and social media (26%). But they are also more likely than other generations to purchase in-store (45%). In order to maximize sales to Centennials, it’s important to maintain a consistent and positive experience on all channels. Since they’ll likely be referencing each of these channels, all it takes is one bad channel to put them off. On the upside, you have more ways to communicate with this group and encourage purchase.

Now that you know where to market to Centennials, it’s important to know what content will persuade them. Centennials have a strong preference for easily skimmable Top 10 pieces or receiving emails with personalized recommendations. They want your company to know what they want and provide it for them in the easiest way to consume content as possible.

Millennials: Year-Round Shopping and Proven Track Record

Of all the generations, Millennials are most likely to do their shopping year-round, rather than containing themselves to a couple weeks or months out of the year. They do take advantage of deals around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so don’t neglect that, but in general, the last-minute push for sales from this group won’t work as well as it does for Centennials. Instead, providing good products year-round is likely what will encourage their gift purchases.

They like utilizing primarily digital channels when choosing their gifts. They’ll bring themselves directly to the brand on a desktop website (46%) or company app (34%). SMS is also most effective among Millennials, with 9% receiving holiday information this way. To help Millennials take advantage of your holiday offerings, make sure both your site and app are consistently functioning well, and feel free to give them an extra nudge to purchase with a SMS message.

As far as the types of content they want to see, Millennials love it when you can back up how great your products are with proof – customer reviews (65%) and expert recommendations (21%). Further, compiling gift guides makes it easier for them to select their gifts, so consider this type of content to push to this age group.

Generation X: Middle of the Road

Compared to other generations, Generation X’s holiday shopping habits weren’t quite as noteworthy. They tend not to purchase on any major shopping day (31%). They’re more likely than the others to purchase between Black Friday and December 15, but many also do the bulk of their shopping between months September and November. You can market to this group a little earlier in the season, but some will push the shopping to later, so consider them as a focus throughout the shopping season.

They’ll most likely use your desktop website (43%) or brick-and-mortar location (34%) to choose their gifts. They’ll also consider some other forms of digital channels – like brand apps (26%) and mobile websites (24%). So ensuring both a positive experience online and in-person will be important.

Similar to Millennials, they’re also impressed by customer reviews (51%) and gift guides (31%) to inspire their holiday purchases. Customer reviews, of course, substantiate yours claims about your products. Gift guides act as a place to start when considering which items to purchase. Keep this generation in mind when forming your guides.

Baby Boomers: Early Shopping and Familiar Channels

Boomers may shop a little earlier than other groups. Like Gen X, they’ll often purchase between September and November, with most purchasing in September and October. (11%) and early November (17%). Of all the groups, they’re most likely to not gift shop at all (12%). This group will be less likely to purchase last minute, so advertise to this group earlier in the shopping season.

Boomers will prefer the same channels they use year-round: primarily direct mail and email (29%). Catalogs are also highly influential to this group, inspiring 21% of purchasers. Accordingly, any catalogs should be geared more towards this age group and sent via direct mail and email so that they can browse.

Marketing content is less effective on this generation than others (32%). The content most effective, however, tends to be customer reviews (42%) and personalized recommendations (22%), like their younger counterparts (see how important those reviews are to all generations?)

Your Best Holiday Season Yet

Understanding the diverse shopping preferences among the different generations allows you to better target your marketing. Centennials want an all-around positive experience, later in the shopping seasons. Millennials will shop year-round and love when you can back-up any product claims with reviews and expert opinions. Gen X is a little less noteworthy, but blends the preferences of both the younger and older generations. Baby Boomers are the least likely to purchase at all, but when they do, they prefer traditional channels and shopping earlier. These takeaways are important to ensuring your best possible marketing strategies for the season.

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