The Full-Circle Approach

Appeal To More Customers Through
Multi-Generational Marketing
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Photo: Savage Arms

Naming the generations started in 1991 and is generally credited to generational theorists Neil Howe and William Strauss. Another source credits Peter Francese, a demographic and consumer markets expert, who explained it all began when the Census Bureau referred to the years between 1946 and 1964 as the “Post-War Baby Boom.” Birthrates skyrocketed from around 3 million a year to over 4 million a year.

Thus, “baby boomers” were the first named generation to exist. The generations prior to them, such as The Greatest Generation and The Silent Generation, were named retroactively. (A little side note here, this would be the first, and thus far, last time a generation’s “official” name would come from a government organization.)

How it started though, doesn’t really matter, as it has since become one of the basics used in marketing strategies when companies and advertising agencies are defining who their target audience is.

We can break these individual generations down even further by separating gender and focusing only on how to reach women in the generations defining our customers. It’s no question there are differences in the purchasing habits of men and women — men and women see, think and understand things differently. So, lumping genders together because they fall into a particular age group can cause a lot of missed opportunities.

”Spend a little time recognizing the different generations and how they affect your business. Generational marketing is here to stay — as is the female customer.“

Multi-Generational Marketing

Even though there are many similarities in all the defined generations, differences do exist — not only in the range of years and labels, but in lifestyle, needs, expectations and values. Understanding these differences and knowing how to connect with each generation (and with both men and women in those generations) can bring your marketing strategy full circle.

Multi-generational marketing is the practice of appealing to the unique needs and behaviors of individuals within more than one specific generational group. By factoring in the different characteristics and behaviors of the generations, it’ll be easier to build relationships and gain trust with your customer no matter what generation they fit into.

Let’s focus on the three generations who have the most buying power at this point in time. For starters, marketing to the generational woman doesn’t simply mean “think pink.” It’s also knowing who your customer is and understanding a 55-year-old woman isn’t merely a 30-year-older version of her 25-year-old self.

Baby Boomer Women

Baby boomer women are categorized as mature females with sophisticated tastes and needs. They want to make the most of their substantial purchasing power and there is no one-size-fits-all campaign when it comes to marketing to boomer women.

Boomer women are at the peak of their earning potential and the majority plan on working through their retirement years, meaning they’ll have even more purchasing power. Reaching this segment isn’t difficult, but getting them to join your brand and become a loyal customer requires a little planning.

Boomer women are smart and they want to be treated as such. Speak to their minds, not just their hearts. They want to be understood and have their needs recognized and their values respected. They won’t buy from a company that condescends to them. Most important, women don’t buy brands, they join them. Just as they join clubs, organizations and associations. Who gets their loyalty? The groups and institutions that matter to them.

”Women don’t buy brands, they join them. Just as they join clubs, organizations and associations. Who gets their loyalty? The groups and institutions that matter to them.“

Things to remember when connecting with the boomer generation:
Engage Into A Dialogue: The boomer woman wants an authentic relationship with your company or brand. When talking with her, you’ll find out her reason for interest in the product she’s looking at may be totally different than that of another generational woman. As an example, her reason for buying a firearm may be to protect her family and her home, where the millennial woman who has yet to establish a family circle, might have other reasons for the purchase.

Realize Her Desire To Learn: Let your brand be her link to products, services and opportunities where she can learn more about and understand the things she faces every day.

Recognize & Respect Her Age: The focus of the boomer woman has shifted. While she’s not happy about aging, she’s accepted it and can laugh at the physical differences between herself now and 30 years ago. She has life experience and is looking for personal growth.

By creating authenticity in your conversation and your message, you’ll find the boomer woman will deliver more profit to you through loyalty and referrals.

Gen X Women

Thought of as the in-between generation sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials, the Gen Xers are often forgotten. But they shouldn’t be. This generation makes up more than 30% of the population and has vast purchasing power. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this generation outspends all other generations when it comes to housing, clothing and entertainment.

Gen X women are very experienced shopping in-store and online, so the marketing strategy has to be a little more broad-based.

Here are some ideas to keep at the forefront for reaching this group of customers:
Offer A Valuable Service & Be Trustworthy: The oldest Gen Xers are 54 and the youngest are 39. They’re financially stable and have families with children in school or just graduating. They’re at their highest earning years, interested in security and have strong family values. Show them your brand can be trusted.

Embrace The Internet: These women spend time researching online before purchasing. Once they see or hear an ad, they’ll look the business up online. Be sure your website is up to date and is consistent across the social platforms.

Be Factual In The Message: This generation has seen and been through a lot. The internet revolution, Y2K and everything else. They’re a bit jaded and look for authenticity and realism. Don’t try and fake it. They’ll see right through it.

Millennial Women

Millennials have gotten a bad rap over the last few years, but keep in mind, not all millennials are created equal. This is the first generation to grow up with computers and with the speed technology changes, millennials have a technology gap within their own generation. They were born roughly between 1980–2000, so the difference in how to market to them is substantial.

While a 33-year-old millennial woman uses Instagram and Facebook, the 22-year-old won’t go near anything but TikTok.

Millennial women want, expect and demand more from brands than other generations. According to a NewsCred study, 30% absolutely refuse to read content that doesn’t either entertain or inform them, 60% share content that is strictly thought-provoking and intelligent and 70% share content that makes them laugh.

”To reach millennial women, you have to entertain, inform, provide thought-provoking insight and, on top of all that, make them laugh. Seem impossible?“

So, there you have it. To reach millennial women, you have to entertain, inform, provide thought-provoking insight and, on top of all that, make them laugh. Seem impossible? Not really. Here are a few ideas on how to reach this generation:
Be Targeted & Relevant: Instead of using a macro-marketing approach, become very micro. Millennial women want content that completely caters to them and in small amounts so it’s easily shared.

Connect On Social Media: Millennial women make up the majority on social media platforms. Connect with them on their terms and on their mobile devices and you’ll have a loyal customer.

Understand Their Commitment To Social Good: Understand their commitment to social good. This generation wants to make the world a better place and will support brands in line with their values. Support organizations and movements they can relate to and they will relate to your brand.

The Next Step

Women drive consumer spending — understanding how they think, feel and relate to your brand may take some time and effort. But it will increase your customer base through referrals and recommendations, and will ultimately show up on your bottom line. Spend a little time recognizing the different generations and how they affect your business.

And, don’t forget about upcoming generations. Next up is Generation Z, and they’ll be taking their first step into adulthood, providing an entirely new pool of potential new customers — and it won’t be long until they overtake the spending power of other groups.

The youngest generation (Generation Alpha) will be the first generation born entirely in the 21st century and the children of millennials.

All in all, generational marketing is here to stay — as is the female consumer.

Shari LeGate is FMG Publications’ video producer and shooting sports analyst. She’s a former USA Shooting skeet shooter, executive director of the Women’s Shooting Sports Foundation and has covered the past four summer Olympic Games as NBC’s in-studio shooting analyst.

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