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Target Marketing to Gen X, Gen Y, & Gen Z

Target Your Customer Demographics to Save Your $$

  Who is going to spend the most money with you? This post is to help you save marketing time and money by using customer demographics about age groups to target your BEST customers.  (Free customer demographic survey – see below.)

Last post I covered the HUGE, wealthy Over-50 age groups. This post we’re talking about the 3 younger groups, starting with Gen X:

Census Customer Demographics

GENERATION X – born 1960 – 1983    ages 30 –  53

family customer demographicsI don’t know what your business is, but I’ll bet this huge group of people aged 30-50 represents a major portion of your market.  They control hundreds of billions of dollars in purchasing power a year and they are in the prime of their earning years.

This group views what the older generation considered luxuries as their own necessities.  Cell phones, good cars, jewelry, well-made clothes, etc. – these are “necessities.”  They  “need” everything.

They are all about family. They grew up in homes where both boomer parents worked, and quite often divorced, so they became independent and self reliant. They work fewer hours than their boomer parents did because they want to spend family time.

To quote Businessweek:  “Gen X parents have more schooling than boomers yet are far more pessimistic about their financial futures. Gen X parents are more uncomfortable with their debt levels, have much lower expectations of remaining in their current jobs, and are less likely to expect defined-benefit pensions in retirement. The specter of financial insecurity haunts them much more than it did their parents at the same age. Value sells — and permanence, being such a rare commodity — sells even better.”  They prefer authentic ads that tell a story like this famous one – note the personas of the parents in the final moment.

This group has a much higher racial diversity than previous ages due to immigration.

Because of their kids, they are conflicted with all the pulls on their time and income. They are not patient – they want their services fast and easy – after all, TV solves every problem in 30 minutes!  They are skeptical about hype. To capture their attention, you need to think honestly, creatively, and intelligently because of their education level.  Be completely authentic and give facts and figures.

These people were not raised to do much labor on their own – they often eat out rather than cook, they use maid and yard services, and they’re not as handy as their grandparents were about doing around-the-house tasks (good news for service businesses). They’re getting ahead in their careers so that they can buy more, but they are more conflicted when they buy — perhaps since a lot of it goes on credit cards.

Marketing to Gen X

woman 35 customer demographicComputers:  This group is using a wide range of social media channels and mobile apps. The oldest in the group are on all the big sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. The youngest are on everything, jumping into new apps at the speed of light. They “like” and friend and are brand loyal if you engage them.

They shop on line and are web savvy. They research their purchases on multiple sites, so giving full and accurate information is crucial. They understand the necessity for content marketing and are both reading and writing blogs. They use their cellphones extensively and respond quickly to email via texting as well as text message marketing. They respond to deals — coupons and Groupons work because a discount gives them a reason to buy now.

Your business card and every piece of printed material you hand out (including business cards) should drive people to your web site.

Social media posts with research will interest them. Write a blog. Use testimonials that are useful because they come from people who understand and speak directly to the groups’ concerns.

Traditional Methods:  To reach this crowd, one of the best non-digital methods is networking. Everyone in the group is looking for new clients, so they’re out there meeting people and forging relationships where you can trade services and help each other. They tend to trust their friends’ choices and referrals, too.

Michael Fleischner of MarketingScoop.com offers this insight:  “In combination with online marketing, direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to market to Gen X. According to a recent study conducted by InnoMedia, NuStats, and Vertis, 86% of Gen Xers bring in the mail the day it’s delivered. Furthermore, 68% of Gen X retail direct mail readers have used coupons received in the mail. Gen X consumers rate 75% of the mail they receive as valuable. Keep in mind that your direct mail efforts can be supplemented with online marketing in the form of targeted site advertising, key word buys, or perhaps giving consumers a reason to visit you online via email (contests, sweepstakes, discounts, etc.).”

They don’t reliably read newspapers; many get their news on line.  If they read magazines, they read specialized ones for their interests. They pick up parents’ magazines to keep up with activities being offered in their city.

They watch TV on both traditional and digital channels.

What They Buy:  Everything! Technology is a necessity and part of life, so they buy new equipment and phones regularly. They are spending hugely on their kids — schools, clothes, tutors, summer camps (and throw in a few pets while you’re at it). They enjoy camping and are buying equipment and  foldup campers. Insurance is important to safeguard the family. They use business coaches, psychologists, and personal branding consultants. They are beginning to see the need for financial advisers.


GEN Y – Also known as millenials, born 1984 – 2000 ages 12 -30

teenage customer demographicsThese are the kids of boomers, and they’re famous for being over-protected by their parents – remember helicopter moms? Lots of these kids are still living at home in their 20’s, enjoying their parents’ support. (I mean, who wouldn’t?)

This group has grown up right along with  the internet, and they are totally involved – they have no conception of life without computers and cells.

There are 75-80 million of them (depending on who’s counting), and although they’re having trouble finding jobs good enough for them right now, they do have money to spend (some of it still provided by parents). They are used to getting what they want when they want it, so credit card debt may be a problem.  (They may have student loan debt, too.) They are known for having strong opinions about what they want to buy at a very early age, and they either buy cheap stuff or elite stuff, so the mid-range retailers can get lost.

They think about their personal safety and they’re distrustful of media, so they need to see testimonials from people they trust and reviews from friends. They are racially very diverse and very accepting of it.

Marketing to Gen Y

They hop on every new app and they text at the speed of light. They watch TV, but mostly you have to market to them on line. Develop a great interactive website with lots of video and fun things to see and do – have you checked out gamification? Use it on your web, then pay to build great pages on whatever social media channels that are up and coming to feed to your web. You have to engage them – give them a great experience. (Hire people from this age group to create that experience.)

Online marketing expert Kelly Mooney says 13- to 21-year-olds in the group influence 81% of their families’ apparel purchases and 52% of car choices.

How to LOSE them:  Mooney’s research shows slow websites, dismissive sales staffs and free shipping that takes more than two days will turn them off to a brand.

“They are more demanding and more savvy than they feel they’re given credit for,” says Mooney. “In some instances, they think they know more than the person selling them something.”  So forget “sales techniques” and try engaging them – you’re building relationships that can last for a lifetime.


Gen Z – also known as the Homeland Generation or “Digital Natives,” born 2001 to the present – ages 1-11

baby for customer demographicsOMG these kids are connected – they’ll have totally different lives than the rest of us. They’ll get EVERYTHING via the internet – their educations, their social lives, and their jobs. Keeping up with them will be a huge challenge for the rest of us as they’ll change technology faster than we have ever dreamed.

You want these kids? Check out their parents’s age groups – Gen X and Gen Y — and try to catch them while they’re racing through life with work, carpools, and play dates. The most reliable way to find this group is through the kids’ schools. Donate your product or service to the school and get involved. The moms pick up the parents’ magazines in McDonalds and Target and are  on the social media channels for 1-2 hours a day, so develop a site that gives solid info to parents.  Definitely blog with research on all types of related products to yours to add value to your site.

There you have them — all 6 age groups. (For Over-50 age groups, click here.)  
Check your sales numbers over the past few years to find which group is bringing you more money, and zero in on them. Or use the free survey:

To get a FREE Customer Demographic Survey and Checklist, please subscribe!..
or email me at adhelperbiz@gmail.com.

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