Diversification is the key to success for most businesses, and expanding into new consumer audiences and markets is the best way to achieve this. Just because something worked, or does work, does not mean you should rest on your laurels and assume it will always be so. Business is an arena, where the fittest battle to survive to find new customers.
Targeting one generation as a consumer group is going the way of the dodo, thriving in today’s economic environment depends on the diversification made possible via cross-generational marketing.
It’s time for companies to stop focusing all of their attention on just one age cohort, and seriously consider how they can make themselves appealing to others, especially if their focus has been on millennials.
Focusing on the up and coming to Generation Z, as well as other specific cohorts within peer groups, offers the greatest route to increased ROI for your company. Let’s discuss more on the subject in detail.
Stop with the stereotypes
If you listen to companies that focus only on single-generational marketing then you’d believe that Generation Z is teetotal, millennials will spend a lot of money on coffee and avocados, Generation X are loyal to brands, and baby boomers like multiple customer support options.
“One shouldn’t use lazy generalizations when identifying a consumer group to advertise your wares to, you need to dig a little deeper. Stereotypes exist for a reason for sure, but they are not a solid groundwork on which to base your company’s future,“- says Dmitriy Atamaniuk, CEO at GDM (Global Digital Marketing Group).
Relying on sweeping generalizations is damaging to your brand as they blind you to what specific pain points our potential customers actually have. According to Deloitte, many businesses have fallen into the trap of hyper-focusing on millennials at the expense of other, potentially lucrative, age cohorts. This reliance on stereotypes only leads to an incomplete picture of your audience.
The travel industry offers a good example as millennials are most associated with this market, yet they have lower incomes than baby boomers for example.
“There’s a huge array of travel types among millenials too; some want adventure, others city breaks, and some want cruises. By basing your advertising on a sweeping generalization of this group, assuming that all millennials like city breaks, you can miss out on potential customers.“- says Michael Sweeney, Head of Marketing at Clearcode.
It’s all about attitude
Targeting consumers by their attitudes is a more effective strategy as it allows you to focus on niche groups that are likely to offer higher ROI. When focusing on generational stereotypes represented in/by a quantity-based approach, targeting by attitude is instead focused on quality, and this position has been consistently backed up by studies that frequently highlight the inaccuracy of stereotypes.
For example, a study by Network Research in the U.K. found that the assumption that single people are more interested in self-image and fashion than partnered individuals was inaccurate, instead finding that singletons are far less likely to be concerned with other people’s opinions than those in relationships.
Let’s take the travel industry as an example again as purchases in this market are driven primarily by aspirational desires, in fact, the industry is primarily driven by millennials and members of Generation Z who represent a group described as ‘aspirationalists’.
They are primarily male, lower-income with 30% living at home with parents and are single; They want cheap, adventure-focused travel with personal transformational value.
“On the other hand, there are members of the same generation who are more financially stable, with a higher income; They want relaxing vacations away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 workday and family life. You can see the pitfalls of assuming every member of one generation has the same interests,“- adds Aaron Bendich, Director of Advertising at Digital Media Rights.
No Z list content for zoomers
Another stereotype you’re probably familiar with is that social media is the preserve of younger generations, and while that isn’t the case broadly speaking, the consumption habits of Generation Z offer valuable insight into why cross-generational marketing based on interests and attitude is effective.
"This age cohort demands that brands be engaging and authentic, appealing to their own specific interests. Most of this peer group trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, while at the same time, they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes," – adds Anna McMichael, Partnership director at VlogBox.
Appealing to Generation Z is important as they represent the future, and according to Forbes their income will reach $33 trillion by 2030 and surpass millennials’ income by 2031, so failing to tap into this market could spell significant difficulties for companies.
The key is to apply the lessons of cross-generational marketing, focus on specific demographics within the group (for example, aspirationalists), and use targeted advertising techniques like contributing to specific social causes.
"By doing so you create a larger, loyal audience, with reliable income you can use to develop more sales as well as seek out new markets, just remember to be as authentic as possible. This age cohort is also the quickest to adopt new technology, something it shares with the ‘aspirationalists’ group as well, so appeal to this interest by making your ad content innovative and interesting. In addition, the majority of Gen Z representatives are more likely to buy a product if they can customize it, so personalize as much as possible" – reports Reid Mitnick, Director of Sales and Business Development at BidMind.
Diversity is a strength, diversity can lead to a healthier bottom line, so start considering how you can expand into cross-generational marketing to diversify your own possibilities.
You will be surprised by how many audience segments you can identify and appeal to if you pinpoint the exact interests of your customers. We gave some examples, you can use them as a base from which to discover your own.
You’ll then realize that having several key customer personas you can target, spread across two or more generation groups, will create loyal customers and more reliable income, which is a far more effective long-term strategy than relying on one demographic cohort.
From that basis, you will be able to spend more resources on finding even more customers, and that’s what business is all about.