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Marketing to People Based on Their ‘Generation’ Will Ultimately Fail

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Marketing to People Based on Their ‘Generation’ Will Ultimately Fail

Marketing to people based on their ‘generation’ will ultimately fail. This is because it is not as simple as defining an age group and then making assumptions about that group. 

We can certainly attribute a few behavioural and attitudinal trends based on life stage to the various generational groups; Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z. However, we cannot afford to assume that because someone falls into a certain age range defined as a ‘generation’ that they all exhibit the same behaviour.

The beautiful thing about human beings is that we are all so fabulously unique.

Even if a person is exactly the same age as another person, their gender, their individual interests, their values, their upbringing and their economic status can mean that these two people are actually immensely different in their behavioural and attitudinal traits.

A perfect example of this lies with how media habits can significantly vary within a generation.

My three children who are all born after 2001 are all classified in the ‘Generation Z’ age group. Aged nine, 12 and 14, they all use social media. And while there is only a couple of years between them all, they all use social media very differently.

My eldest mostly communicates with her friends via Snapchat and Instagram. And while she and her 1,500 or so ‘friends’ occasionally post content to the Instagram newsfeed – they mostly use the direct message feature of these channels. She is incredibly sporty, so she has several ‘group chats’ set up with her various sports and representative teams. When she meets people at sporting camps, they all connect via Instagram and Snapchat and stay in touch that way. She doesn’t spend much time looking through the Instagram newsfeed. These social channels for her are mostly for communication with friends.

My middle daughter mostly uses Instagram and does not use Snapchat. She follows hundreds of Instagram influencers. These include a mix of traditional celebrities such as movie and TV stars as well as social media stars. She spends way too much of her time consuming content about these people in her news feed and story feed. Her purchases (skincare, fashion, etc.) are heavily influenced by what she has seen in the Instagram feed, and she purchases directly from the platform often.

My youngest is not on Instagram or Snapchat; however, when he does get screen time, he loves to watch YouTube. He subscribes mostly to gamers channels, and the content is literally gamers playing a certain game, such as Minecraft, on-screen and providing commentary as they go. My twelve and fourteen years old hates these YouTube channels and have absolutely no interest in Xbox and other social games.

Marketing to people based on their ‘generation’ will ultimately fail.

It’s incredibly important that as marketers, we have a deep understanding and empathy of the nuances present within each generation. If you assume that two people will respond to the same content or can be reached on the same channel just because they fall into a certain generation, your marketing will miss the mark.

Instead, be curious about exactly who your target audience is. Pay attention to their demographic information such as age, but do not stop there and by all means, do not infer generic information about a particular generation upon them. Find out what their values are, exactly which media channels they use and why they use them. What’s important to them, who influences them, what frustrations do they have?

The more empathy and understanding that you can demonstrate towards these nuanced traits, the more successful your marketing will have.

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