We are Digital Citizens in an Age of Digital Commerce. We would rather do business from the comforts of out own home and tweet about the cheapest gas price of the day. We have evolved into Digital Consumers. Research shows that recommendations from friends and colleagues hold higher weight in the digital world specially amongst Generation X, Y and Z, more so than high-flying paid advertisement. Very soon Facebook and, increasingly, the Pinterest pinning site will be major forces in driving online sales and digital validation.
In response to this diverse multi-generational needs "nimble" and "flexible" are the coveted words in environment design. For example, new retail store features dressing rooms that can be moved to make way for fashion shows, moveable floor fixtures that tuck away for in-store concerts and DJ booths that pop up behind cashwraps. “The integration of digital commerce across all channels of customer engagement allows for the opportunity of enriched, broader, more diverse and more animated assortments in smaller stores,” says Jack Hruska, executive vice president, creative services for New York based Bloomingdale’s Inc. “It is one of the key trends I see going forward. The challenge is to be a fantastic curator, so as to target the right customer and not overwhelm her with too many decisions, and always stay true to ones’ brand DNA.”
If you are a trade show marketer, it is safe to say that the larger portion of yur target audience will comprise of Baby Boomers, Gen X and some Gen Ys. According to experts here are some marketing tacts to reach effectively to these very distinctive audience.
Marketing to the Baby Boomers
The Boomers value individualization, self-expression, optimism, and “Be Here Now.” They want quick fixes that require little change and instant improvement. Focus on building value. They will be less price sensitive if they believe they are getting a superior product and good value. Boomers prefer open and direct but not controlling body language and communication. Questions should be answered thoroughly. It is good to take the time to explain how doing business with your organization can give them a competitive or positive advantage. Realize that more information is better for Baby Boomers. Use positive, emotionally meaningful concepts, words, and images. Paint a visual story.
Marketing to Generation X
Multiculturalism and global thinking is the norm of this generation. This generation has produced the 1990’s dot.com stars. They are highly educated even though they are pessimistic, skeptical, disillusioned with almost everything, and questions conventionality. They like initiatives that will make things more useful and practical. Give them a lot of stimuli, a challenging environment, and flexibility without long-term commitment. They demand trust to the extent that if your organization does not follow through once, then you are likely to lose them. They have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies. Generation X wants to hear the features of the product and how it will benefit them. This group is the most price conscious. They perceive products as commodities, unless the products and messages are designed uniquely for their tasks and lifestyles. Give them plenty of access to information and educate them into buying. Always ask their feed-back. They like to be kept abreast of the bigger picture. Use short sound bites to keep their attention. Do not use overly slick marketing pitches as they are skeptical of modern advertising. Be frank and use straightforward facts, candor, and honesty. Xers think communally and make decisions together. Make good use of social media, group events and word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers. Interestingly, they respond to direct mail.
Marketing to Generation Y
Gen Y individuals are well grounded and wise for their age. Eight key values have been described for Gen Y: choice, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, speed, entertainment, and innovation. Be sure that they know that your organization’s mission speaks to a purpose greater than the bottom line, e.g., globalization, global warming, and the advent of the “global citizen.” Feature your organization as an instrument of change. Give them systematic feedback because they value positive reinforcement at accelerated rates compared to previous generations and want more input into all things in which they participate. They value and are looking for brands that resonate with their peers. Their peers often guide product and brand choice. Generation Y is tremendously image driven. Take full advantage of technology and its allure for Gen Y. The key words for Gen Y are collaborate, connect, co-create, and control…mostly, with their peers. Gen Y pays little attention to quality. They expect competitive pricing. However, they are most likely to purchase prestige products.
Given the diverse topography that we are in, marketers of all mediums have to factor in the different characteristics and behaviors of the cross-generations, to build relationships, gain trust, and close business. In fact, creating ageless multi-generational brands is one of the top ten marketing trends over the next 25 years.
However, all these generations have one common touch point. Provide them with a holistic experience of a life time and they are guaranteed to follow the the path of your brand loyalty.
Sources: Himmel, B. (2008), “Different Strokes for Different Generations,”
"Marketing to the Generations" Kaylene C. Williams, California State University, Stanislaus
Robert A. Page, Southern Connecticut State University
Langford, P. (2008), “Gen Y or Boomer, They Think the Same”
Cohen, A.M. (2009), “The Emergence of a Global Generation”
Zaslow, J. (2009), “The Greatest Generation (of Networkers)”