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Tailoring Your Content to Different Generations: Where to Start? 

Defining your brand’s target audience accurately is important for effective marketing. Breaking down an audience into key demographics like age is a great tool to address specific people with your message. Age is a popular data piece to be collected, so it’s a metric we have a lot of information on. The abundance of research available means you can utilise analysis on different generations when developing your marketing strategy, from the tone of your content to your wider plans. 

There is no exact method of determining generational boundaries, and many organisations have different cut off years for what makes you part of a demographic. The lines are blurry for individuals around these boundary years, occasionally sparking heated online debates for those who strongly identify as a tech-savvy, avocado-on-toast munching millennial, but are accused of being a phone addicted, attention-span-of-a-goldfish Gen Z. The groups are determined by trends observed in those age groups, and so despite the inconsistencies with their definitions, they provide useful insights. 

Aside from accurately targeting people for more cost-effective results with social ads, strategic awareness of how to communicate with different age brackets is important for your brand to maintain relevance. General brand awareness across all ages is important, especially when customers might begin to age into or out of needing your product and services. Catering to younger demographics will help to ensure you have a future customer base, and gaining loyal users early in their lives is great for the longevity of the brand. 

Although there are many marketing efforts that span all ages, when examining each group, some distinct trends emerge as to how they prefer to consume content, and what type of media is most effective when marketing to them. 

Baby Boomers 

Baby Boomers are the generation born post-war, between 1946 and 1964, and are defined by their sense of independence, strong work-ethic, and goal-centred nature. They’re big fans of classic advertising like TV and radio ads, print ads, and getting physical mail. This generation prioritise trust and familiarity, so marketing aimed at them often hits the nostalgia button, and features testimonials from trustworthy sources. They respond well to authority, holding respect highly, so adapting a more formal tone is a good way to go. 

With that being said, don’t count them out of the digital game just yet; they’re warming up to social media. A significant 68% of Baby Boomers currently use Facebook, and with their purchasing and decision-making power, this can’t be overlooked. The key to winning over Baby Boomers is finding that sweet spot between old-school charm, digital simplicity, and messaging that speaks directly to them in a professional and formal manner. 

Tip: Understanding of online humour is slower with this group, so use it sparingly in your content, and only when you’re confident they’ll respond well. 

Gen X 

Born in time to see the world turn to colour, the 1965 to 1980 demographic is smaller than the groups it sits between. They don’t tend to grab headlines like their neighbouring generations, and can feel overlooked and overshadowed in professional and consumer settings. Despite this, they are a valuable lot to have on your side. According to an eMarketer study, Gen X show more loyalty to brands than any of their peers. 

Gen X are adaptable. They are more tech literate than Baby Boomers, but they weren’t raised with it the way their millennial peers were, so they’re not the first to jump on the latest tech trends. They saw the rise of email, and speaking to their loyal nature, still regularly engage with email content. 

Like their predecessors, they shouldn’t be discounted from social strategies, especially platforms like LinkedIn, on which they make up the second largest age demographic at 34%, just behind millennials at 37%. When devising a social plan for Gen X, an important characteristic to consider is their independence. This translates into being busy and not wanting to feel led, so be straightforward with your copy. They don’t appreciate hidden agendas, so deliver any calls to action up front. 

To get under Gen X’s skin, hit them in the nostalgia. The 80s and 90s are reminiscent periods for them, so pull pop culture references from that era. Small but mighty, these individuals also have an increasing social conscience, especially with topics like the environment. Take extra care with your messages regarding sustainability and hot green topics. 

Tip: Personalise your email marketing campaigns with content relevant to your audience’s individual journey with your brand. 

Millennials 

Constantly in the limelight for their love for avocados, struggles buying property, and controversy over their approach to work-life balance, Millennials were born from 1981 to 1996, and are often victims of inaccurate stereotypes. 

One common misconception is that Millennials are not as active on Facebook, and that it’s a platform for Baby Boomers – in reality, they are the most active demographic. Although it’s usually Gen Z that’s assumed to have the biggest online presence, Millennials make up the largest usership on most popular sites. This is a key factor when dividing social ad spending between different age brackets. 

Millennials like things to be personalised, prioritising original content, with 40% saying brands who focus on original content over trending topics are more memorable. They enjoy feeling like part of a community, they love a podcast, and are connoisseurs of blogging and online forums like Reddit. Keeping the tone friendly and inclusive is the way to Millennials’ hearts, with blogs that make them feel as though you personally want to help them out, rather than being too sales-y. 

Building on the previous generation, Millennials hold social principles highly, and your brand values matter to them. A whopping 83% want companies to align with their values, and 76% would like CEOs to speak about prominent issues. This can work well on LinkedIn if employees representing the company are happy to put themselves out there with topics they care about. Either way, if your brand is doing good things, let them know about it! 

Tip: Don’t be afraid to put money behind your LinkedIn and Facebook campaigns with audiences tailored to Millennials. Bonus points if you can link to an informational blog. 

Gen Z

The latest age group to enter the workforce, Gen Z, or the TikTok generation as they’ve been dubbed, was born between 1997 and 2012. Gen Z are not to be underestimated. Despite their youth and ‘unseriousness’ as they describe themselves, not only do they have a significant share of the buying power in certain industries, but they are the driving force behind changes, trends, and innovations online. 

A key consideration about Gen Z is their attention span. While many may joke that the increased time spent on their phones is turning them into goldfish with three second memories, research by Microsoft has shown that since the mobile revolution, roughly the year 2000, the average attention span across all users has dropped from twelve seconds to eight. However extensive mobile use has had its benefits, with our ability to multitask significantly improving.  

Gen Z are seeing the most extreme changes in attention span, therefore content they consume is most effective when information is delivered fast. This, and their ability to spread their focus, means short videos are ideal to get your message across. Gen Z have grown up surrounded by modern marketing and have a better understanding of when they’re being marketed to than previous generations. This means for them, honesty is the best policy. Transparency is important, and not only do they know how to spot it, but they appreciate it. 

Unlike our sturdy Baby Boomers, they respond well to casual language that feels more authentic, with bonus points if you add humour and references to pop culture and current events. To make an impact, embrace platforms like Instagram and TikTok with visual storytelling capabilities. 

Tip: Make sure your website and posts are optimised for mobile-use, as one thing you can count on with Gen Z, they can be found with their phone in their hand. 

No matter what generation your audience is from, utilising the data gathered about their age bracket and implementing it strategically in your marketing plans can only benefit your efforts, and your brand, in the long run. 

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