Everyone reading this has one thing in common: we’re all classified under a segmented age grouping.
Understanding how these groups think and behave can help marketers form a strategy when targeting certain demographics. Let’s take a high-level look at the generational labels, along with some of their overall behavioural patterns.
The Silent Generation (Born 1925 – 1945)
This name is attributed to Time magazine’s socio-political essay entitled The Younger Generation in 1951. The essayist wrote of a generation of people dedicated to their careers, as opposite to cultivating social activism. While these were US sentiments, the term caught on in Australia and the UK.
This group continues to be targeted by marketers for specific products and services, typically using more traditional channels such as direct mail and television.
The Baby Boomers (Born 1946 – 1964)
This label was first coined as a marketing term in 1974 when advertisers first recognised the spending power and different demands of this group. While it took Madison Avenue a little longer to understand the value of socio-research in capturing target audiences to sell to, once understood, they never let go.
As a group, Baby Boomers have a high consumer spending capability. Boomer activity on social media continues to grow, making them a prime target for social media advertising. DMN3 found that an overwhelming 82.3% belong to at least one social networking site, with Facebook being the most popular.
Gen X (Born 1965 – 1976)
This term can be traced back to as early as the 50s. It experienced a resurgence in the 90s when writer Douglas Coupland launched his novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. And so began our practice of using alphabetical labels.
This generation sit at the dawn of the desktop computer age, the web, and the emergence of social media. On average, they spend more time on their mobile device using Facebook than Millennials or Baby Boomers. Gen X as a whole continue to be high spenders and tend to be more loyal to brands relative to the younger generations.
Gen Y or Millennials (Born 1977 - 1995)
Although raised in a boom period with relative peace, their world was changed by the events of 9/11 and two economic downturns in 2000 and 2008. Mark Zuckerberg designed Facebook expressly to connect this generation.
Inundated with brand messages on a new scale and savvy to marketing techniques, Gen Y have fresh expectations when it comes to brands and advertisers. Currently a purchasing powerhouse, marketing strategies must continually evolve to convert this influential cohort.
Gen Z or Centennials (Born 1996 – 2009)
The earlier set of this generation were parented by Baby Boomers and the latter grouping parented by Gen X – in other words, as a whole they have experienced a diverse range of parenting styles.
While the online behaviour of Millennials is fragmented, Gen Zers split their attention between even more devices and platforms. Millenials use an average of 3 screens at a time, while Gen Z use 5. Gen Zers are also highly conscious of brand values and are even more willing to switch from brand to brand than any group before.
Gen Alpha (Born 2010 – 2024)
Born after 2010 there are already 1.6 million of them in Australia alone. They have been shaped in an era of individualisation where it was easy for their parents to have their name added to the storyline of picture books and embroidered onto their shirts. This is just one unique factor that could contribute to future marketing planning.
Where to now?
The next Generation will be Gen Beta. But you’ll have to wait a while for them to arrive. What will greet them will be more Australians aged over 60 than under 20 and the most common household type being ‘a couple with no kid’.
We can all agree each generation is not simply one unvaried, homogeneous group. But for marketers to create meaningful connections with their target audiences, it’s worth understanding the key behavioural patterns and the fundamental differences between them.