How Small Business Owners Can Segment Their Marketing by Generation Part 2: Gen X and the Baby Boomers
In Part 1, we explored the best ways to market to the younger generations: Centennials and Millennials. Due to the explosion of communication forms and emerging technologies over the last two decades, the two proved quite different, despite their various similarities. Now we’ll explore the two older generations: Generation X and the Baby Boomers.
Generation X vs. Baby Boomers
Millennials are proving to be very different from both centennials and gen X. Unlike the brand loyal millennials, gen X lacks brand loyalty. They’re seeking deals and will switch between brands for a better price. Gen X also desires convenience when purchasing these goods. This group will likely be most receptive when you’re offering big sales and discounts, so consider that when marketing to this group.
Baby boomers are the polar opposite of centennials. Centennials were quality-first shoppers wanting a unique brand experience. Baby boomers simply are uninterested in brand experiences and the loyalty programs favored by millennials. They want well-priced products and tons of variety. So while more niche brands with smaller product collections can be very appealing to the two youngest generations, baby boomers are happier when you give them options. This is an important consideration when deciding your product offerings.
Factors in Brand Loyalty
Gen X and baby boomers are reasonably similar in what drives their loyalty to brands. They both care about price and convenience. What differentiates the two is that Gen X is slightly more interested in quality than baby boomers and baby boomers are slightly more interested in product variety.
For gen X, brand influencers are as follows: price 55%, quality 45%, and convenience 23%. Price is so influential that 85% say their most recent purchases were inspired by discounts, making them the most price conscious of the other generations. But, as just mentioned, they are swayed by quality, too, with 45% stating quality influenced their most recent purchases. They’re looking for the easiest solutions – ones that function well at the lowest possible price and purchased in the easiest way possible. Making your business easily accessible to them, either in terms of a local and convenient location, possibly opened long hours and more days, or easily deliverable to them. For a restaurant, this may mean fast and cheap delivery or fast and free shipping for online stores.
When it comes to baby boomers, they’re influenced a little differently: price 62%, convenience 30%, and product variety 21%. Convenience is such an important factor to this generation that36% state that it influenced their most recent purchase. They’ll also consider whether or not the product meets their immediate needs – 25%. It’s important to note that quality doesn’t even rank in the top 3 and that they care about it least of any generation. While they would likely be put-off by a poor quality good, they’re comfortable with the most basic solution for their problem. So they’ll likely be less swayed by an ad stating “Now New and Improved!” or “Now with new features!” Rather, a better way to catch their attention would be to offer additional products so they have a variety of options. Because they’re more likely to consider whether not goods meet their immediate needs, they’re less likely to be in the consideration stage for long. They likely won’t consider your product too much until they actually need it.
Are They Interested in Digital Marketing Channels?
Baby boomers are most interested in direct mail of any generation, at 59%. But they value email just as much, also 59%. So clearly, they are embracing technology to some level. As the name implies, email may just be their digital equivalent to the preferred direct mail, which may be why the percentage is so high. They are less interested in other digital marketing forms, however, with social media ranking only 19%. The best method to reach this group may be offering discounts or other advertisements via some form of mail – email or direct. You can also trust that direct mail will be less likely to end up in the trash, so it may be worthier to send to baby boomers than other generations.
Gen X also has little interest in most digital forms of marketing, excluding email. They’re not as interested in direct mail as baby boomers, but aren’t far behind at 56%. Email, like baby boomers, is important to 59%. So, like the baby boomers, some form of mail be the best way to reach them, but because they’re a little more tech-savvy than the boomers, it may be better to approach them through email – it’s more accessible throughout the day. Because this group is full of bargain hunters, a good way to grab their attention is by offering special deals via email.
The Four Key Generations
Clearly technology has played a major role in consumer preferences. Gen X and baby boomers weren’t all that different. They preferred price and convenience before all else and the best way to get in touch with them is via some form of mail, either email or direct. But technology clearly diversified the last 3 generations. Gen X is entirely different from millennials who are less concerned about price and are extremely brand loyal. Gen X are the most concerned about price and the least brand loyal. While both put a high value on email, millennials are open to other forms of communication, like apps and social media. Then, when comparing millennials to centennials, millennials were largely focused on loyalty programs, whereas centennials cared more about free shipping and brand experiences. Centennials were also less interested in email than millennials, who adopt it at a higher rate than any generation.
To sum up, the four generations can be described as follows: (1) centennials want brand experiences and prestige, (2) millennials are brand loyalists, (3) gen x is full of bargain hunters, and (4) baby boomers consider themselves price savvy. This is the best way to segment the four and choose which approach is right for your business.