Talking About My Generation

Effective digital marketing tips for different generations

Does the generation gap still exist in 2024?

Whilst there are many ways in which the boundaries between different generations have become increasingly blurred, with some values, beliefs and tastes being shared amongst members of different generations, there are still some distinct differences. In fact, some would argue that gaps between generations are broader than ever in 2024.

But what impact does this have on digital marketing? If you have one or more target generations in mind for your product or service, what is the best way to reach them?

In this article we look at:

  • Five key generations to target;
  • Typical characteristics of each generation;
  • Channel usage of each generation;
  • Three digital marketing tips to reach each generation.

Five key generations to target

The five key generations to which digital marketing applies are listed below. 

  • Gen Z / iGen / Centennials : Born 1997–2010 : Now aged 14-27.
  • Millennials / Gen Y : Born 1981–1996 : Now aged 28-43.
  • Gen X : Born 1965–1980 : Now aged 44-59.
  • Baby Boomers : Born 1946–1964 : Now aged 60-78.
  • Traditionalist / Silent Generation : Born 1928–1945 : Aged 79-96.

 

Note that the years of birth and, consequently, the ages may vary slightly globally. The Traditionalist and Baby Boom generation both developed through major global events – predominantly the World Wars and their aftermath. But generational characteristics in individual countries can also be heavily influenced by culture, religion and significant events occurring in that country.

Typical characteristics of each generation

It’s always risky to generalise, but each generation tends to have noticeable characteristics that make it stand out from other generations. Here are just a few of these for each of the five generations. If you are targeting one or more specific generations, they should provide a useful context for your digital marketing strategies.

  • Gen Z / iGen / Centennials

This generation is the first completely digital generation. They will never experience or understand what life was like without being able to be in constant contact with the rest of the world through phones and screens. They therefore expect to be able to do anything from anywhere and at any time, and may prefer video calls and online communication to face to face meetings.

An interesting emerging characteristic of Gen Z is their passion for key social and environmental issues such as sustainability, social justice, inclusion, diversity and mental wellbeing.

  • Millennials / Gen Y

This generation is immersed in the digital world, but the older members also remember life before the ready availability of the internet. Financial security is important to Millennials, but they also value work-life balance so are likely to work remotely or in a hybrid set up. 

Millennials are also increasingly community-oriented and environmentally conscious, so sustainability is also an important factor for them. 

  • Gen X

Gen X grew up through times of great social and technological change. This has built a resilience in them which makes them value independence and autonomy. They are likely to work in remote and/or informal working environments which support a healthy work-life balance. 

Along with their desires for flexibility, they have a strong work ethic and are good team players. Diversity and inclusion are important values for them.

  • Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are part of the population boom that happened after the second World War. They became quite a rebellious generation, particularly in the 1960s with flower power, protests, and the emergence of new trends in music and fashion.

Despite this, they tend to be a hard working generation with a strong sense of purpose. They also have a strong sense of loyalty and expect to see loyalty in return, for example in terms of reward and recognition for their efforts.

  • Traditionalist / Silent Generation

Whilst this is the older generation they are very much still an active one. They are known as the silent generation due to being expected to be silent and conformist during difficult global times including World War II. 

This generation values stability and reliability, and are tremendously loyal. They expect to be respected and treated well by those they do business with, and very much value personalised attention and ongoing courtesy relationships.

Channel usage of each generation

We’ve looked at typical characteristics of the different generations, and there is also data available to indicate the channels each generation tends to use most. This is essential information when planning your digital market strategy for a particular target market.

  • Gen Z / iGen / Centennials

The most used social media apps amongst this group are Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

However, when it comes to searching for new products, internet search also plays a significant role in the process as well as social media apps and YouTube ads. Over the last few months, 42% of Gen Z has found new products by searching online. 26% of Gen Z say it is their preferred way of discovering new products, and 50% say it’s where they find products most often. 

Around 74% of this internet searching is done on a mobile, and 15% on a computer.

  • Millennials / Gen Y

The most used social media apps amongst this group are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Millennials are also likely to use a combination of social media, internet search, and YouTube ads to discover new products. And, as a group, they are the fastest-growing generation of customers in the digital marketplace. 

  • Gen X

The most used social media apps amongst this group are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. 

But when it comes to looking for new products, Gen X is likely to be influenced by TV ads and retail stores as well as internet search and social media.

  • Baby Boomers

The most used social media app by far amongst this group is Facebook, though they are also the fastest growing demographic on YouTube. 

But when it comes to discovering new products, Baby Boomers are more likely to use TV ads, internet search, and retail stores than social media.

  • Traditionalist / Silent Generation

There is a perception that older people do not use the internet. But, whilst this may be true for a significant proportion of over 75’s, an estimated 64% of them do in fact use the internet. Of this 64%, most use it fairly regularly for browsing and emails, but almost half also use it for online buying.

This generation also spends an average of around 176 minutes a day watching TV and DVDs – including streaming on Netflix and YouTube.

 

Three  tips to reach each generation

Pulling together all the above, here are three tips to consider when trying to reach each particular generation:

    • Gen Z / iGen / Centennials

      • Use relevant influencer marketing and testimonials that they will be able to relate to;
      • Emphasise support for sustainability and social and economic causes;
      • Ensure your SEO – particularly mobile SEO – is top notch.
    • Millennials / Gen Y

      • Use multichannel marketing to maximise reach;
      • Focus on content, particularly user-generated content from “people like us”;
      • Emphasise authenticity and support for good causes.
  • Gen X

    • Focus on clear messaging, including email marketing;
    • Offer loyalty programs, discounts, and incentives;
    • Major on excellent and personalised customer service.
  • Baby Boomers

    • Supplement social media marketing with traditional advertising methods such as TV, radio and print;
    • Support in-store interactions and purchases with rewards and loyalty schemes;
    • Streamline online purchasing processes and top quality customer service.
  • The Silent Generation / Traditionalist Generation

    • Major on traditional advertising methods such as TV, radio, print and direct mail.
    • Keep content and imagery clear, purposeful and relevant;
    • Personalise as much as possible, and keep the tone courteous and respectful.

 

We hope that this article gives you some useful ideas about how to tweak your digital marketing to target different generations more effectively during 2024.

 

Remember to check back in with us again here soon at Xcite Digital for more helpful tips from the world of digital marketing.