In today's market, it is no longer good enough to plan and execute marketing communications based simply on broad age and era similarities in beliefs, values and expectations. We have to dig deeper to define meaningful market segmentations.
Without more information, how can you explain or respond to the fact that, for example, two 60-year-olds can have diametrically opposed perceptions on some issues and products.
In times only recently past, it was enough to differentiate your marketing communications simply based on the target audiences' ages. The familiar categories below served marketers well in terms of knowing the when, what, how and why of communicating persuasively with each broad segment.
Traditional Age and Era Population Segmentation
The GI Generation (born 1905 – 1924)
Formerly, a key consuming generation, these seniors now have their consumption limited mainly to healthcare, assisted living and funerals. It is shrinking dramatically. Can also be marketed to through Boomer caregivers. Use late night TV and an age-appropriate spokesperson.
The Silent Generation (born 1925 – 1944)
In numbers the smallest generation, these seniors are now mid-60s to mid-80s. Their consuming days are mostly behind them. Respond to maintain your independence, delay aging, paid by Medicare and stay in your own house. Love a deal and can be reached through conventional media—especially newspapers—they are happy coupon clippers.
Boomers (born 1945 – 1964)
75 million strong and consuming with a vengeance. They are retiring at a rate of about one every eight seconds. Make their lives easy, save them time and no rip-offs, man. Conventional media is the place to go to find them. Biggest boomer marketing success? Viagra.
Generation X (born 1965 – 1984)
Can never consume at boomer rates because there are 9 million fewer of them. And they don't favor conventional media. The Internet's fragmentation makes them a challenge to reach. Top Gen X product success? The Mac.
Generation Y (born 1985 – present)
90 million of them consuming at a rate of 500% of that of their boomer parents. The first generation to routinely have brand new cars in high school parking lots. Highly fickle consumers, fashion styles can barely keep up with them. They look for green companies and a good humanitarian record in dealing with workers. The principal media for them is cyberspace, but again fragmentation can make contact tricky. Oddly, they respond to direct mail and anything personalized for them.