Understanding how the three major generations think about purchases, and where they turn for information, should help retailers more effectively market their retail stores and product offerings. That does not mean it is necessary to develop three separate marketing strategies, cautions Stovall, because the fundamentals still work for all three generations—a clean, inviting store, plenty of product education and great customer service.
What needs to be different is the way you share information with customers. Some customers prefer a postcard announcement to email and vice versa. Some want to research products online and make a purchase in-store, which means you need to have both environments up and running, while others only shop online.
Likewise, the language you use may
vary by generation. You might invite all of your customers to a Labor Day event but swap the body copy based on age, perhaps injecting humor into the Millennial invitation, emphasizing the opportunity to sample products in the Gen X message and promoting the bargain opportunities to boomers. They all need information but, “We don’t talk the same way to a 25-year-old as we do to a 70-year-old in real life, so why do so many companies do it in their marketing?” asks Goodman. That is the crux of generational marketing—giving consumers in each generation exactly what they need information-wise, in the format they prefer, to encourage them to buy from you rather than the competition.
Marcia Layton Turner is a best-selling business author whose work has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Health and many others.