How to write to your target audience according to age? Marketing communication for generations X, Y and Z
The key to effective marketing communication with your customers is to know them as an audience. To do this, it’s very useful to break down your customers by age group, and more specifically to understand the differences between the currently most active generations in the market: generations X, Y (millennials) and Z.
Marketing must be tailored to customers
Marketing communication that aims to drive sales must include information that appeals to individual buyers. The ideal situation is to conduct detailed research on the customers of your own brand and create personas based on this. Marketing personas define model buyers and answer a number of questions that make it easier to sell, including who the company’s customers are, their age, what motivates them to buy and where they spend their time online.
Unfortunately, conducting research for creating personas is time-consuming and expensive, so it is definitely more profitable to establish the so-called protopersonas – to develop a visualisation of the group of customers, which is based on the company’s sales experience and additional assumptions. A good introduction to getting to know your customers better, and even to the initial preparation of a protopersona, is to divide your customers by age and check which generation they belong to.
By creating personas or protopersonas, it becomes easier to define the objectives, functions and types of marketing communications.
Why is it important to tailor marketing communications to customer generations?
Generation X, generation Y and generation Z are very different in many ways. They make different purchasing decisions, use mobile devices and the internet differently, are appealed to in different ways and pay attention to different brand attributes. While it is of course possible to distinguish more types of consumers within a generation, as not every customer of a given generation will act identically (for this purpose, personas or protopersonas are commissioned), it is worth paying attention to generational characteristics. Generations differ from each other because they were born in similar times and similar economic and technological conditions, which largely influenced their perception of the world.
It is for this reason that marketing communications should be tailored for each generation separately. In this article, let’s look at what characterises each generation of customers and what drives them to buy.
Generation X characteristics – a mix of tradition and modernity
They value freedom and modern opportunities that they did not have as young adults. In their time, technology has advanced and they have had to learn how to use modern equipment on their own.
The media important for generation X are TV, radio and the Internet, and they are more likely to read newspapers than people from subsequent generations. They use technology mainly at work and it is not essential to their lives – they are able to spend effective time offline with relatives and friends. However, they do not find it difficult to make purchases through e-shops and often use this option. Still, they value face-to-face communication, so they are still willing to direct their steps to stationary shops, e.g. after having familiarised themselves with the offer online. They most often use desktop or laptop computers.
The most effective channels and methods of marketing communication with Generation X people are:
Coupons and discounts – generation X likes to use various types of coupons and dedicated discounts.
Email marketing – the vast majority of Generation X use email and it is their main channel of communication with brands. Email marketing can be a very effective form of advertising for this group, especially if the message contains information about a promotion or birthday discount.
Advertising leaflets – leaflets attract the attention of as many as 41% of Generation X people.
Loyalty programmes – Generation X likes to use loyalty programmes to save money. They are not strongly attached to brands but like to take advantage of cheaper offers.
Website and pop-up ads – people in this generation are much more likely to click on ads found on the websites of companies they would like to use and on pop-up ads.
Search and social media adverts – it can be equally effective to place adverts on Google search and on the social media they are on (primarily Facebook).
Generation Y characteristics – technological proficiency
Generation Y is characterised by people born between 1980 and 1995. Another popular name for this generation is simply millennials.
The millennial generation lived in greater affluence than the previous ones, or at least had contact with products coming to Poland from abroad. In those years, the Internet and technology began to develop intensively. Computers and mobile phones became widely available, so generation Y was the generation that grew up with them and got to know them very well.
Millennials have characteristics of both Generation Y and Generation Z consumers, although they have more in common with the latter. Millennials are open to technology and novelty, so it is no exaggeration to say that they like to surround themselves with things, especially good quality things. Generation Y is a generation that is becoming increasingly aware in many respects – among other things, it learns about the effects of climate pollution and the need to care for the environment, and is aware of many social problems. They are also keen and frequent users of social media. Most often they use Facebook and Instagram for entertainment, while for professional purposes they visit LinkedIn and Twitter.
One of the important characteristics of generation Y is multitasking and multiscreening. This means that millennials perform many activities simultaneously or use several devices at once. This makes it very easy to distract millennials and therefore difficult to create advertising that attracts them. Millennials spend on average only 12 seconds reading content, so ads need to be short and to the point. The main devices for millennials are laptops and smartphones.
Millennials use the Internet primarily for:
following social networks (77% of survey respondents),
searching for information (48%),
checking e-mail (48%),
watching movies and listening to music (45%),
using internet banking (16%).
The most effective channels and methods for reaching millennials with marketing communications are:
Newsletters – while millennials do not like advertising via email, they are happy to sign up for newsletters that interest them. If the content offered by a brand is valuable to them, they are more likely to buy from that company.
Social Media Ads – Generation Y are keen to use social media for their purchasing decisions. They use it to check product information and often click on banner ads and product posts. Ads on SM allow them to find the products they are looking for or that are trending faster.
Awareness campaigns and CSR activities – millennials like controversy and brands whose actions they can identify with. Creating campaigns that refer to important and current topics will not go unnoticed by generation Y.
Video, blogs and podcasts – generation Y is the main recipient of content recorded in video and audio form. They are able to spend more time watching or listening to material that is of interest to them and make a purchase if the promotion of the product/service is justified by the content. The same is true of content on blogs, which they continue to frequently visit.
Opinion media – before making a purchase, millennials will almost certainly check out reviews of a product or company. They will look for them in Google reviews, Facebook ratings and will ask other users in the comments, and on forums. If a company’s target audience is millennials, it should pay particular attention to highlighting good reviews and improving its offer to accommodate negative posts.
Generation Z characteristics – completely new values
Generation Z, also known as gen Z, largely breaks with traditional forms of advertising or expects them to take a completely different approach and offer new values. Gen Z includes people born after 1995. These are young people who have been conquering the job market for several years now and, interestingly, are able to earn even considerable money: they respect their time and believe in their skills. They are extremely proficient in modern technologies and do not know the world without them. They have practically nothing in common with generation X, while they share many characteristics with the millennial generation, but these are even more strongly emphasised.
Generation Z, although they spend most of their time online and on social media, are not uncritical of advertising and brands. They don’t use media such as Facebook and Instagram because they don’t find them very authentic. Instead, they are persuaded by dynamic platforms that emphasise fast and entertaining content such as Tik Tok or vloggers on YouTube. Companies whose main buyers are Generation Z should be constantly on guard and follow trends – they are able to quickly change platforms and objects of interest.
Gen Z primarily uses smartphones, so websites with offers for them absolutely must be adjusted to them. Generation Z has an even shorter attention span than millennials – they spend only about 8 seconds reading content.
Generation Z is being brought up in a time of environmental awareness and growing tolerance. If their finances allow it, they are more likely to use environmentally conscious brands and support minorities.
Millennials use the internet primarily for:
following social networking sites (74% of survey respondents),
watching movies and listening to music (55%),
searching for information (52%),
checking e-mail (29%),
participating in online games (12%).
The most effective channels and methods of reaching people from generation Z are:
Influencer marketing – generation Z values the opinions of famous YouTubers and vloggers. They are much more likely to make a purchase decision when they are told about a product by someone they trust.
Events – the youngest group of consumers likes cultural events. Conventions related to their hobbies attract thousands of interested participants, where they willingly attend lectures and make purchases.
Social media ads – social media is where they spend most of their time. Creative and dynamic ads are able to attract their attention, but they will not look at specialized and time-consuming content (at least for now).
Transparency and good reviews – generation Z doesn’t like fakery. Paid partnerships and a lack of authenticity will quickly distract the younger generation from the offer. Companies should be transparent and work for a good cause.
A generation is not equal to a generation
As you might have seen, each of the generations featured differs in their approach to using technology and media. They also interact with brands in different ways, which is why tailoring communications to each customer group is so important.
But what should you do if your customers are not just one generation? In this case, it is best to entrust the execution of the marketing communication strategy to a company that has been building strategies for years. In the ranks of JAAQOB we have employees from each of the mentioned generations. We are up to date with trends in marketing communication and have the experience to create excellent marketing and sales communication.