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One of the biggest differentiators in how people respond to messaging is age—or, more to the point, the generational culture in which they grew up. We hear terms like “Gen X” and Gen Z” tossed around often in market-speak, but many people are confused as to what these terms mean or how they can affect a marketing strategy. To clarify any confusion, let’s discuss these two generations specifically and discuss what marketers should understand about them.
THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GENERATIONS
Gen X and Gen Z are separated in age by as few as 14 years or as much as 50 years at the opposite ends of the generational timeline. Gen X refers to people born between 1965-1979 (age 41-55), while Gen Z represents those born between 1995-2015 (age 5-21). Tucked between these two are members of Gen Y (otherwise known as “Millennials”), born between 1980-1994. For perspective, some members of Gen X are old enough to be parents to most Gen Z-ers, and some are old enough to be grandparents to Gen Z-ers. These two demographics are far enough apart in their cultural experiences that they respond quite differently to different types of marketing.
THEY SHOP DIFFERENTLY
Gen X has become largely familiar with the technology of the past several decades, and while they frequently shop online, they also don’t mind going into the stores. Gen Z, the mobile generation, interacts more with their mobile devices than other generations, including doing their shopping there. If they go into a brick-and-mortar store, they’re more likely to look up product reviews on their phones before selecting a product.
THEY RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO ADVERTISING OUTLETS
Gen X still responds at some level to traditional advertising methods (e.g., OOH ads, TV/Radio, etc.). They also respond well to email marketing. Gen Z, however, is more suspicious of advertising and prefers authentic engagement, which is why social media “influencer marketing” can be a highly effective way to reach them.
GEN Z IS THE LARGEST GENERATION POPULATION-WISE
Comprising more than 27 percent of the population in America, Gen Z is now the largest demographic in the U.S. (Gen X occupies about 20 percent of the pie, Millennials close to 25 percent.) While not all Gen Z-ers are consumers yet, their buying power is increasing daily, and within a few years, they will represent the lion’s share of consumers. Wise marketers won’t write off this bloc as “children,” but will instead continue to monitor them as their shopping habits evolve.