Aim Your Marketing at Four Generations

 - February 11, 2014, 2:00 PM

Because society and technology have been changing so fast, we now have four distinct generations working side by side, each with its own characteristics, values and preferences. Human resource managers, consultants and trainers have devoted much time to studying this phenomenon and developing ways to better communicate with all of these generations.

Marketers face the same challenge. We need to deliver marketing messages that reach all four generations. Among them:

Radio Babies or Veterans (born 1922–46). Members of this generation did not have television when they were children. Many fought in a war or married someone who did. They know about stock-market crashes, are fiscally conservative, read the newspaper every day and are loyal.

Baby Boomers (born 1946–64). They are ambitious, more educated than the other three groups, have a strong work ethic, are multitaskers and are loyal to their employers. They’re frequently forced to use new technology but don’t always embrace it and often need help with it from a younger generation.

Generation Xers (born 1964–80). This is a very independent group and includes the highest number of divorced parents and dual-income families. Gen Xers were the first latchkey kids and so they figured out how to do many things on their own. They were the first generation to grow up with computer technology and they care more about productivity than hours spent doing a job.

Millennials aka Gen Yers or Nexters (born 1980–2000). Raised differently from Gen Xers (timeouts, no spanking, protective parents), they are conscious of the global environment, open-minded and accepting of diversity. They are entrenched in technology and are consummate multitaskers who bore easily. They believe emails are so yesterday. They want immediate gratification to keep them interested.

Our marketing campaigns must be tailored to reach all of these groups. Radio Babies and Baby Boomers generally prefer to receive printed information. Although more and more of them will take to the Internet to research a subject, few will read a book or magazine online. They are only now learning to use DVRs and most would not listen to a podcast. They would much rather attend a seminar or trade show than get information from a webinar. They need to see traditional marketing and advertising.

On the other hand, Gen Xers and Nexters are entrenched in technology. They own iPads and cannot imagine carrying a book or magazine on an airplane. They don’t check their email continually because they believe that if a message is important, it will arrive via a text. They don’t have landline phones and rely on smartphones for everything from getting directions to their next appointment to making dinner reservations. They get bored and need interactive messages. They like to play with a tablet-edition magazine, click on videos and spend countless hours on social media, and they spend relatively little time talking to people in person or on the phone. Video campaigns, social media, text marketing and tablet-edition advertising are the way to reach them.

Does your marketing message meet the challenge? The aviation industry, once heavily weighted toward older generations, is seeing an influx of younger, more tech-savvy workers whose attention you will have for only a moment and who want to be entertained. That makes the case for a well-planned, multifaceted advertising campaign that employs all available print, digital, face-to-face and interactive components.