Generational Branding

by | Oct 23, 2018


Establishing your brand means understanding your customers. Establishing your brand avatars helps in crafting an understanding of the people your brand will appeal to. Often as we go through setting up our avatars we often focus a lot on gender, relationship status, personality traits, education, or financial demographics. An important area to include in any avatar is generational branding.

Generational branding relates to identifying and understanding the time period in which people were born. Generational branding is more than just how old someone is. Age changes, but the time period in which they were born stays the same. When you look at the period in which people were born you reveal generational truths.

As you begin looking into using generational truths you may feel that you are falling into relying on stereotypes. However, generational branding is not about the embracing of stereotypes. Rather, it is understanding that certain generational events bond people born during certain time periods.

There are some disclaimers, though, before we go through the different generations. Depending on where you look, there can be a slight difference in two areas—name and time span. The name differences are primarily just terminology. The year difference is based on people disagreeing with the start and end dates. These dates usually differ by +/- 5 years on either end.

Mature or Silent

Born between 1927 and 1945

The mature or silent generation is the term for those born between 1927 and 1945. Those who were born and raised during this time worked hard and kept to themselves. This generation lived through many wars; they learned to be frugal with their money. Discipline was valued and encouraged.

Divorce was not considered an option, marriage was viewed as being for life. Being pre-feminism, wives typically stayed in the home and raised the children. If they did work outside of the home they typically worked as school teachers, secretaries, or nurses.

As a result of living through multiple wars, being raised to do hard work and to be frugal with their money, they purchase based on practical need. Emotional response or compulsive behavior seldom lead to purchasing something.

Best Way to Connect: Mature or Silent Generation

The mature or silent generation relates to what is commonly referred to as “traditional media.” This includes radio, TV, direct mail, and printed periodicals. Build on the practical nature of the product while building trust and appealing to the morals and values they grew up with. They are used to in-store shopping and relate to that purchasing model better than to online shopping. Though now, for many it’s harder for them to get to a store unaccompanied. Living on a lower, fixed income means that high-priced products are not a big draw.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964

Baby boomers were the first to have television in their youth. Their parents moved them to suburbs where they listened to the new rock ‘n’ roll. Exposed to little conflict, the baby boomers were driven to protest war and promote “peace, love, and understanding.”

Divorce started to become common and tolerable. Mothers began to work outside of the home in larger numbers. This lead to more children being raised in two-income homes, something not seen before. Baby boomers also contributed more to the population than any generation before or since, at 70-73 million.

Due to the financial planning and actions of their parents’ generation they were raised with basic financial freedom. This freedom drives them to be less frugal than the generation before. They tend to adopt to more of a “buy now, pay later” mentality.

Best Way to Connect: Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are cautious with technology. They try to bring it into their lives but are not “married” to their devices. Traditional media still works with some new methods, such as Facebook retargeting. Unlike the mature/silent generation this group will spend money on premium items, cars, phones, computers and more. Baby boomers will visit a store to make purchases and smaller amounts are open to online shopping. They are more open to brand loyalty and will tend to favor a brand over choosing new product lines.

Generation X, Gen X’ers, or the Baby Bust Generation

Born between 1965 and 1980

Similar to their parents’ generation being the first exposed to TV, Gen X’ers were the first exposed to video games. They discovered the importance, rise, and prominence of computers.

Generation X kids grew up as the latch-key kids, the result of career-focused or divorced parents. Members of generation X are judgmental and critical of decisions that failed their parents, as a result they are more eager to make marriage work. They tend to marry later, and often after living with each other for a while. They also strive to find a work-life balance. They often feel misunderstood by other generations.

Generation X’ers are quick to buy what they want, when they want it. Most are deep in credit card debt, more than other generations. During their lifetime, they will average seven different career changes. Generation X’ers tend to not view themselves as part of a generational segment. Many do not like to be grouped under the Gen X moniker, while equally not wanting to be part of the Millennials. In recent years a new term has been created for a small group between the two; Xennials. This group is considered people born between 1977 and 1983, borrowing from the two surrounding generational groups. Xennials embrace technology, but can remember not having it.

Best Way to Connect: Generation X,Gen X’ers, or the Baby Bust Generation

Generation X with the ready adoption of technology throughout their lives are on par with Millennials with their online shopping. This group will study and review purchases before deciding, reviews and other examples of positive customer feedback help in their buying habits. This can be a bit of a paradox as they can be swayed by spur of the moment purchases while making their original purchase. Online ads and experiences serve this group well along with radio and limited TV ads. Brand loyalty is strong as they carry their research across product lines. Open to online shopping, Generation X still enjoys going to the store and the experience it brings.

Generation Y/Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1995.

Millennials are the newest generational group constantly in the media. They are the youngest group that is now starting to enter the work space and are starkly different from any other generational group living today.

They come from homes where parents are known as helicopter or lawnmower parents. They have been sheltered from many of the issues other generations faced growing up. As a result, they have been told continually that they are special and expect everyone in the world to view them as such.

This group has never lived without the aid of computers or the ever-increasing use of technology in their lives. Most of their influence and socialization comes from internet-connected means. With the proliferation of information, coupled with the ease in which they can access it, they view the world as being 24/7 and have a hard time waiting.

Best Way to Connect: Millennials

Millennials are driven by online methods the most of any other group. Traditional methods of advertising do not resonate well with this group. Radio and TV ads are of little use with the vast majority of millennials opting for online entertainment methods (such as Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, or Apple Music). Online shopping is the desired method for buying items, but will resort to in-store if needed. Social media influencers, online reviews, and peer recommendations are the way many millennials determine the products they will buy.

All of these groups are a force to be considered in your brand’s plans for both marketing and sales. If your brand is focused on the baby boomers, then only having an online presence will hurt your chances of connecting. Also, only focusing on one segment can cause you to not have the long-term growth you were looking for. Determine the best combination of segments and methods of reaching them that will get you the most impact and highest results for the least amount of money.

Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Create your brand’s avatar(s) and determine their generational group
  • Learn about the best methods to market and sell to the generational groups that tie to your brand the best
  • Create a plan to reach out to the other groups as part of a long-term plan

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