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Marketing to Demographics: the Silent Generation to Gen Z

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

The best product, service or idea can’t get off the ground without the best marketing.

Even if you’ve solved an age-old problem or found a miracle cure, the implementation phases require a lot of signing on, from customers and suppliers alike. How can you get the people you’re trying to service to know you?

Considering basic demographics is a great place to start. While generalizations, some of these commonalities of experience, expectations and education can help you to discover who wants to hear from you, and what will make them listen. Curated with the expertise of Rachel, our Chief Research and Marketing Officer, we’ll confidently break down each demographic with a few tips and tricks of our own to narrow down your marketing plans.

The Silent Generation

Age Range: 76 - 93 years old in 2021

Population Size: 21 Million

The Silent Generation is often written off for their lack of technological prowess, but the truth is, you just have to be more creative to reach them. They’ve been around for plenty of marketing and advertising strategies, and they know what they like and don’t like –– they’re savvy!

This population often lives on fixed incomes, is motivated more by value than anything else. The goal? Earn their trust! The easiest way to do that? Be trustworthy people, in and out of business. This generation typically doesn’t shop for fun, and prioritizes both maintaining their lifestyle and spending on their grandchildren. They place high emphasis on patriotism, team-building and sacrificing for the common good, so if your product/service aligns with this mission, don’t forget about Silent Generation!

Takeaway: Be simple, honest and smart to get to the heart of this generation.

The Boomers

Age Range: 57 - 75 years old in 2021

Population Size: 72 Million

Here’s a Jeopardy clue for you: They’re the first generation raised on TV, they face the least amount of debt, and are, at 82%, majority non-Hispanic white. Who are: the Boomers!

This demographic is downsizing and technologically capable. They’ve got buying power, and they know how to use it, spending $400 billion more per year than other generations. This may be built on a cultural foundation of the Civil Rights Movement, Anti-War protests, Equal Rights Amendment and more –– they’re the “Me Generation,” taking a breather between childhood and adulthood to explore being young. While they’re the healthiest fledgling retirees we’ve seen yet, they’re also the most ill-prepared financially for retirement.

Takeaway: While Boomers are 25% more likely to be debt-free and known for being high-spenders, you still have to be tactful and innovative when marketing to them. The “Me Generation” puts trust in themselves, and has first-hand experience with creative thinking: you need to wow them!

The Gen Xers

Age Range: 41 - 56 years old in 2021

Population Size: 65 Million

Spenders but brand loyalists, that’s how we’d sum up the buying habits of the Gen Xers.

This population is millions strong of people at the peak of their earning and buying years. They love to shop, but they also apply their highly educated brains to their purchases. Brand alone won’t convince them to make a big purchase –– they weigh the value of the offer, too. Their tech savviness and independence also factor into what they decide to buy, so you’ve got a lot to juggle when sculpting a Gen X-focused strategy.

This focus on the value of a purchase may come from the riskiness and up and down of the economy they grew up with and into: their finances were compromised by the dot-com bust, the 2008 financial crisis. While many of them were able to bounce back, they’re still cautious, just like their Boomer parents.

Takeaway: While you might associate big spenders with the Millenials, it’s actually their parents who put the realy money into lodging, entertainment, dining out and clothes shopping. Build a brand with integrity and value, and you’ve got the Gen X’s dollar.

The Millennials

Age Range: 25 - 40 years old in 2021

Population Size: 65 Million

It seems like every blog article, social media post and stand-up comedy bit centers around Millennials, but we still feel like it’s worth talking about them.

This technologically-focused population demographic is huge, and it’s growing. Driven by speed, convenience and variety over value and brand loyalty, they can be hard to pin down. They’re quick thinkers who can process information fast, and more and more of them have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s or higher degree.

However, they were hit hard by the Great Recession, and, even with this level of education, are likely to live at home, or be home for long periods of time and starting families later than in prior generations. Living at home, though, gives them an advantage: discretionary income.

Takeaway: Millennials choose to spend their extra cash on products and services that are marketed using innovation, creativity and “out of the box” thinking.

The Gen Zers

Age Range: 9 -24 years old in 2021

Population Size: 67 Million

This group of folks is probably still in school –– or thinking about signing up. They’re the Tik Tokers, tweeters, Snapchatting tweens, tweens and young adults of the world. As you might expect, as avid tech-users, they’re very receptive to advertising using and about technology. However, a sleek ad or fancy service isn’t enough to get them on board.

This demographic is also socially and community-minded, and therefore don’t often make insular purchases. To make a purchase, they often need to justify it –– education, experiences, adaptive tech and low-cost clothing are some of the most popular decisions they decide to put money into. That’s pretty different from their parents and grandparents!

Gen Zers are on track to be the most educated generation, but they’re also the most open about struggles with anxiety, depression and fear. With a series of financial crises behind them, and the COVID-19 pandemic raging during their formative years, they're also nervous about getting jobs and holding on to them.

Takeaway: Flashy ads and internet campaigns aren’t enough for Gen Zers –– don’t write them off! Experiences, conscientious ideas and diverse approaches are the way to get a Gen Zer on board.

With this intro advice, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running! Get a deep dive into your industry’s target audience, specific feedback on your idea, start to grow your company, and secure those boosts of confidence you need to succeed with GBS. From marketing help, to design, general consultations and tech, we’ve got your covered.

Book your initial consultation with our Chief Research and Marketing Officer here.

The information and claims in this article are sourced primarily from the PEW Research Center, which can be accessed here. Other sources include the Progressive Grocer (which can be viewed here) and other sites that were aggregated here by the talented team at GBS.

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