Episode 360: Show Notes
Today we talk about a fascinating topic, one that affects every single one of you in one way or another in your business. When we think about marketing, we tend to think about psychology in general and the things that inherently appeal to all people. But, there is a better way to approach marketing and it pertains to the different generations. Ever thought about why people of different ages think and behave so differently from one another and often bump heads, whether in families or in business? What we discuss today will shed a whole lot of light on this subject. We compare and contrast the generations, from the traditionalists up to Gen Z and everything in between.
Each new generation is constructed in a unique way with different things that impact how they view the world and what kinds of consumers they are. For this reason, marketing efforts should be adjusted accordingly to ensure that you speak to the needs of the generation you are targeting, and so you can better understand why certain initiatives will be more effective than others. We have relied heavily on the research of the amazing Jason Dorsey for this episode, so a lot of the information provided here is from his work on the topic. Definitely check out his website if you want to find out more. Jason also speaks about a very interesting new thought about millennials, one which we will get into on this episode, so be sure to tune in!
The Two Main Things That Shape Our Generations Today
There are two primary influences that drive generational trends. The first one is parenting and the second is technology and how we interact with it. Your parents learned their parenting styles from their parents who likely went through war or the Great Depression, for example, and so you see groups within generations that have had similar experiences and therefore their parenting also took on a similar form. This might put some millennials at ease because we carry this stigma that we are entitled – but this was parented into us. Parenting truly influences everything we do and it defined for us in childhood what would be acceptable and unacceptable levels of risk to take, which ultimately determines all the decisions we make. We also have to look at how we are currently reinforcing behaviors. The school system fulfills the role of the second parent, so what happens at school directly impacts a child’s socialization. When it comes to technology, there is still quite a large disparity between the generations. The generation before the baby boomers had no exposure to the technology we know today and therefore their relationship with anything tech is very different from ours.
Where the Millennial Generation Starts and Stops
There is a debate about where the millennial generation begins and ends. There were the traditionalists, the baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Gen Z. The end of the millennial generation is all related to our relationship with 9/11. Any child who was affected by the catastrophe, in whatever way, is regarded as a millennial whereas anyone who is 23 and younger is considered a Gen Z. Google says that the beginning of the millennial generation was around 1977 – so that means if you are between 42 and 23, you fall into this category. There is a new thought that millennials are splitting in two: we are not necessarily two generations, but we are seeing two trends within the same generation. By the age of 30, you self-select which of the two you are going to be in and it is unrelated to your age. On the one hand, you have the ‘elder’ millennials who largely follow a traditional path of college, marriage, starting a family (mega-lennials). Then there is another group who don’t necessarily go to or finish college, they typically rent a place and spend a lot of money on traveling (me-lennials). They live more freely in many ways. Thus, these two groups have wildly different purchasing patterns.
Delayed Adulthood and Marketing to the Different Generations
Regardless of whether you fit into the mega- or me-lennial group, delayed adulthood is happening in this generation and it has a direct bearing on the economic choices we make. While some of you might own a home and have gotten married quite young, you are a much smaller segment of the millennial population. When you are thinking about marketing to millennials, it’s first important to understand them. If your target group is Gen X, you have to know that they are super skeptical! But they are also economically strapped because they’re taking care of both their parents and children. Millennials might still be on their parents’ phone plan, for example, and they seem to be more dependent on their parents and their input in certain ways. Even though some of you might have products or services targeted at Gen Z, they are not the ones making the purchasing decisions. What’s interesting about this group is that they are significantly more practical with their money than our generation, and much better savers. It might be because 9/11 and the recession took a knock at our finances and consequently we might have incurred debt we wouldn’t have had had those events not taken place.
How This Information Can Help Us to Make Better Business Decisions
Millennials are the first generation to not think linearly, which means we are outcome-driven. We must see the end first, so this makes us goal-oriented. The generations before that, Gen X and baby boomers need to process, they need steps to get to the end result. The fact that millennials want to see the whole picture first, presents companies with unique marketing opportunities to them. This is exactly why the YouTube videos that show the end result first are more effective than others that simply start at the beginning – you have to show millennials what they’re going to get! This is especially important for service-based businesses, for these business owners to show their clients where they are going to take them and how they will deliver the service. In addition, all generations from millennials upwards are forever going to demand examples in the form of videos and pictures – text is not enough. You have to show them; we are visual learners. In the context of a work team, millennials also require more feedback from management and are dependent on that interaction. Providing quick feedback is super helpful to them. Acknowledging that there are real generational differences is an important step in the right direction because then you can begin to look at how the group you are targeting thinks and behaves in the market.
The Two Main Things That Shape Our Generations Today. [0:02:49.1]
Where the Millennial Generation Starts and Stops. [0:11:00.1]
Delayed Adulthood and Marketing to the Different Generations. [0:20:34.1]
How This Information Can Help Us to Make Better Business Decisions. [0:30:37.1]