Breaking down generational marketing

There are now a myriad of different demographic cohorts that marketers must pay attention to when creating their strategies. Each generation has strong and defining characteristics that need to be catered to and no two demographics are the same. 

Techniques and messages that work for Baby Boomers, won’t necessarily work for Millennials and marketing to Generation X will require different tactics than marketing to Generation Z. Each demographic has different social concerns, cultural references and Millennials and Gen Z both have a knowledge of technology and the online world that Boomers and Gen X do not. 

To help you better understand your audience, we’ve broken down generational marketing to look at the best strategies to target each of these key demographics.   

Marketing to Boomers

marketing to boomers

Born: 1946-1964

Preferred platforms: Websites & Email

Key subjects: Life Milestones – Hobbies – Animals (Pets)

Characteristics: Strong work ethic, self-assured, competitive, goal orientated, resourceful, disciplined  

Best messaging to use: Boomers are very nostalgic, but also see the wisdom that their age brings them, so focusing on a connection to the past can be a great way to grab their initial attention. As a demographic, the Boomers have a strong interest in hobbies and milestone life events, such as wedding anniversaries, using these to create an emotional connection can be a sure fire way to target your older audience. 

Marketing placement: Boomers still prefer to shop in-store rather than online, making more traditional forms of marketing such as billboards, bus backs and print advertising essential. They have also adopted email as their primary source of receiving information, with a recent survey showing that 95 percent of Boomers use email regularly and 92 percent are known to click-through and explore advertised products.  

Marketing to Generation X

marketing generation X

Born: 1965-1979

Preferred platforms: Websites & Facebook

Key subjects: TV/Film – Career – Family

Characteristics:  Independent, resourceful, self-managing, adaptable, cynical, pragmatic, sceptical of authority, seeking a work life balance 

Best messaging to use: Ensure that you have a strong online presence and a well-designed website, as 79 percent of Gen X users use the internet to research a business, especially if they have seen digital or print advertising. They have a high brand loyalty, so ensure you are showing how you value your current customers and clients in your marketing. Gen X have a similar nostalgia to Baby Boomers and love to reflect on the things they had when they were children.  

Marketing placement: TV and video marketing work well with Gen X, as do digital advertising such as Google display ads, due to users browsing the web often. Facebook advertising also works very well with Gen X as a survey recently revealed that around 95 percent use Facebook.   

Marketing to Millennials 

Marketing to millenials

Born: 1980-1996

Preferred platforms: Social Media 

Key subjects: Entrepreneurship – Technology – Celebrity

Characteristics: Driven, ambitious, technologically savvy, achievement oriented, multi-taskers, curious, connected 

Best messaging to use: Millennials are by far the most ambitious of the generational demographics. Around 54 percent of Millennials have said they want to start their own business, and most of their actions are driven by ambition and a need to succeed professionally. They are also more socially conscious than their predecessors, with 75 percent saying they want companies they purchase from to give back to society. A further 37 percent said they would be willing to pay extra if a brand gives to a cause they believe in. 

Communication and engagement is also a big requirement for Millennials, they want to be seen and heard by brands and 62 percent said they were more likely to become a customer of a brand that interacts with them on social media.  

*Stats taken from this Forbes article 

Marketing placement: Social media is the main point of contact for Millennials, as they will use social media to help them make a decision when looking to purchase an item. As mentioned above, being able to interact directly with brands and even impact decisions made within the brand, are an important part of the sales funnel for Millennials. Approximately 84 percent of Millennials stated they did not trust traditional advertising and only 6 percent think that online advertising has any credibility. To tackle this disconnect with paid advertising, content and social media marketing is the best answer.    

Marketing to Generation Z 

marketing generation Z

Born: 1997-2012

Preferred platforms: Social Media (Specifically Instagram & YouTube) 

Key subjects: Influencers – Politics/Sociology – Authenticity

Characteristics: Innovative, natural entrepreneurs, tech experts, progressive, realistic, ethical, inquisitive, digital natives, accepting, health conscious

Best messaging to use: Generation Z are by far the most politically minded and socially conscious off all of the generational demographics. Although they are technological experts, they actually prefer to socialise offline and use shopping in store as a social activity. Many of their purchasing decisions are based around political or ethical standpoints, with 76 percent of Gen Z concerned with humanity’s impact on the world. Any messages should be ethically focused and brands should keep in mind their own cultural impact when promoting and also producing their products.  

Marketing placement: Gen Z are the most untrusting of traditional advertising and much like Millennials, they are wary of digital advertising and its authenticity. They want to feel like they have some sort of impact on the brand and the product directly, so they will be most active on social media and look for a high amount of engagement with their chosen brands. 

Having a strong Wi-Fi connection is also integral to Gen Z and their shopping habits, as they will be most likely to post whilst in-store. It’s a great idea to use Gen Z’s engagement to curate user generated content for your marketing, such as social media takeovers or re-posting users social posts. 

Navigating the world of marketing strategies, especially if you are trying to target one or more generational demographics, can be tricky to get right. Finding a compromise between the needs and expectations of each demographic can get messy, which is where we can help. 


To find out more about our marketing services and how you can find clarity in your audience targeting, email us at info@walshandbeck.nz or take a look at our previous work over in our portfolio.