June 25, 2022

Small Business Advice

Marketing to the Generations

Gray Poehler | 9/11/2017

Q: As a small business owner I have a rather small budget for advertising. Given the generational divide, how can I reach the most people?

A: The short answer is … you can’t. There is no “one size fits all” solution to your problem. Each generation has its own unique characteristics, influenced by their life’s experiences. The following will give you an idea of what turns each of them on or off. Take a hard look at your product or service to determine where is the best fit. It’s hard to be all things to all people.

The silent generation -- those born prior to 1945-- are conformists, patriotic, loya, and generally resist change. They prefer to get information from newspapers and magazines. Treat them right and you generally have a long-term customer.

The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, make up 35% of the American adult population and control three quarters of America’s wealth. They are the generation that experienced Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the civil rights movement and Woodstock. Many come from affluent families, like nice things and are willing to pay for them -- a marketers dream.

Generation X -- those who were born between 1965 and 1977 -- are also known as the “latchkey generation.” Many come from broken households and are cautious to marry. They are well educated and self-sufficient. They value facts and candor. Slick advertising gimmicks will not resonate with this group.

Generation Y -- aka the Millennials -- were born 1978 to 1996, during a time of immense technological innovation. They are well grounded, independent and entrepreneurial. Appeal to the belief they can make the world a better place. Marketers should recognize that one third of this group is minorities, and advertising should reflect diversity.

Generation Z are less than 18 years old. They are more tech-savvy than any of the previous generations. They like to think of themselves as individuals but are greatly influenced by current trends and peer pressure. Brand loyalty will only last until the next best thing tickles their fancy.

Numerous articles on generational marketing are available on the internet and you should research the subject thoroughly. In summary, you are well advised to target market the generations with whom you can best relate.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE.

A SCORE counselor since 2005, Gray Poehler owned and operated an independent insurance agency with 20 employees and two locations. He has earned the Certified Insurance Counselor designation and is familiar with both personal and commercial property and casualty insurance. Areas of expertise include: Business Finance and Accounting; Business Strategy and Planning; Business Operations; Human Resources and Internal Communications; Sales, Marketing and Public Relations.

To learn more about management issues of small businesses, contact the SCORE office nearest you.

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