Blog From boomers to Gen Z: How to tailor your app marketing for different generations

From boomers to Gen Z: How to tailor your app marketing for different generations

The stereotypes for each generation are widely known. Baby boomers are an economically influential demographic, while Gen Z and Millennials are known for their familiarity with modern technology and time spent online. Moreover, phrases such as “Ok boomer” encapsulate the divide between generations. But you can’t (and should not) build a mobile marketing strategy around stereotypes. Instead, it is important to make data-driven decisions that give you a clear understanding of behavioral trends for each generation and how you can target them. In this guide, we share the fundamentals of how to tailor your app marketing for different generations.

What are the generational demographics?

You can’t market to different generations if you don’t know which demographics make up each group. Pew Research Center, which has been committed to measuring public attitudes on key issues and documenting differences in those attitudes across demographic groups, outlines the five generations as follows:

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012

Michael Dimock, president of Pew Research Center, explains, “generational cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time. They can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) interact with the life-cycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world.” Michael also adds, “Generational cutoff points aren’t an exact science. They should be viewed primarily as tools, allowing for the kinds of analyses detailed [in this report].” With the exception of The Silent Generation, this article will share insights into each demographic and share best practices to help you target your audience.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Births in the United States during boomer years totaled almost 79 million, making baby boomers one of the most populous generations. While boomers are not synonymous with high usage of modern technology in the same way as millennials, 60% of people in the 50 – 64 year age group use at least one social media site. According to Forbes, 60% of baby boomers spend their time reading blogs and other online articles for information and intrigue, while 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services. In the same article, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Caring People Inc., Karina Tama - Rutigliano, explains, “It’s important for marketers targeting this generation to remember that baby boomers have grown up with technology over recent decades. They’re more accustomed to technology than you might think, and they use it in different ways than millennials.” She also reminds marketers that baby boomers are an affluent generation who have a significant share of all disposable income.

Marketing to baby boomers: 3 best practices

1. Target baby boomers on Facebook

Boomers are more active on Facebook than any other social network. Their activity includes keeping in touch with friends and family and reading articles through the platform. This presents an opportunity to market to baby boomers with Facebook ads and building a community for your brand on the social network. This also provides another way for boomers to get in touch with you for customer support.

2. Offer several support options – including email and phone

When it comes to customer service, baby boomers may be more familiar and comfortable with traditional methods such as email support and contacting a business over the phone. If you are targeting boomers, these are essential additions to your customer support network, which can use live chat and chatbots for best results.

3. Mobile is still important for marketing to boomers

They may not be the generation spending the most time on mobile but boomers still use their phones for at least 2.5 hours every day. Depending on the nature of your product, you should develop a strategy that targets boomers on desktop and mobile for best results.

How to market to Gen X

Generation X is composed of fewer people than millennials or baby boomers. Despite this, their purchasing power accounts for 31% of the total U.S. income - and their average income is higher than the national average. Gen X is active across several social media channels: 95% use Facebook, 35% use LinkedIn and 25% post regularly on Twitter.

How to market to Gen X: 3 best practices

1. Build brand loyalty by simplifying the purchasing process

According to eMarketer, almost 50% of Gen Xers are brand loyal. The report states that “Career and child-rearing have put many Gen Xers in a hectic phase of life, and this can yield an inclination to spend more money for the sake of convenience.” This is reinforced by Erin Winters, Vice President of marketing strategy for marketing and data technology company Acxiom, who says Gen X is "not being profligate about spending, but you're definitely going to value certain conveniences if it saves you time." If you can make life easier for a generation that doesn’t have so much time to spare, you will build loyalty and be rewarded with high LTV users.

2. Utilize the influence of video advertising

Over 75% of Gen Xers watch digital video at least once a month and this group is responsible for 1.5 billion views on YouTube every day. A Think with Google study found that Gen Xers frequent YouTube to embrace nostalgia (75%), stay updated with news and trends (86%), and to learn new skills (73%). This is a signal that video ads can be an effective way to target this group across multiple channels. Justine Bloome, Head of Strategy and Innovation at media agency Carat says, “Gen X also adapted quickly to many groundbreaking technological innovations that sped up access to news, entertainment, and personal connections—think VCRs, CDs, digital portable music players, and mobile phones. They were early adopters of social media at scale.” She suggests that this is why the demographic has transitioned to YouTube video. “Staying relevant and not feeling left out is important to their identity, so it makes sense that they turn to YouTube to keep a pulse on current events."

3. Offer rewards and loyalty programs

Writing for Forbes, Rebecca Kowalewicz, Vice President of Digital at Clearbridge Branding Agency shares the benefits of incentives for this target market: “Meeting Gen Xers where we are online, utilizing traditional advertising, and offering rewards and loyalty programs can help strike a balance between the two poles of Gen X/boomer and Gen X/millennial that seem to define the range of character in this unique generation.” You can use loyalty programs and similar incentives to retain Gen X customers for longer and build brand loyalty over time.

Marketing to millennials

Millenials spend approximately $600 billion in the U.S. per year and 71% of millennials regularly shop online via mobile devices.

Marketing to millennials: 3 best practices

1. Engage users through influencer marketing

Millenials want to engage with brands through content relevant to their interests, not just through traditional advertising methods. In fact, 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising. Instead, you can build trust through content creation and influencer marketing. This enables you to gain brand exposure and build your reputation by association with social media influencers that are popular with your target audience.

2. Online reviews are important for brand reputation and revenue

Quality indicators such as online user reviews can be an effective way to drive sales and increase retention among millenials. You should also encourage users to leave reviews for your product through email marketing. This enables the user to share their thoughts while also showing customers you care about their experience from start to finish.

3. Ensure you have a consistent brand identity

If millennials are more likely to purchase brands they are familiar with and trust, it is more important than ever to keep a consistent brand identity. This includes all of your online and offline advertising, website, mobile app and anything else associated with your brand. This can help retain users and deliver organic installs.

How to market to Gen Z

Generation Z has grown up with access to smartphones, the internet and social media. They have a native understanding of these technologies which can be leveraged to your advantage. Social and moral responsibility also plays a part in how gen Z makes purchases online: 70% of this group try to purchase from companies they consider ethical and are 3x more likely than older generations to believe a company should play a role in improving society. Another 61% of Gen Z is willing to pay more for ethical and sustainable products.

How to market to Gen Z: 3 best practices

1. Personalization matters

Over half (58%) of Gen Z is willing to pay more for products that are targeted to their individual personalities. When targeting Gen Z, personalization is a greatway to drive sales and increase retention rates. For marketing channels such as mailing lists, personalization can also increase open rates and increase brand loyalty.

2. Use influencer marketing to reach your audience

A whopping 69% of Gen Z thinks ads are disruptive and 52% trust social media influencers for product or brand advice. As with millennials, influencer marketing is an effective way to market to Gen Z. In fact, 76% follow an influencer on social media and 45% follow more than 10.

3. Establish your brand persona across social media

Gen Z spends an average of just under three hours on social media every day —  almost an hour more than the average millennial.The generation is also more likely to learn about new products on social media: 54% of Gen-Z says social media influences them more than any other marketing channel. When developing your social media marketing strategy, it is essential to create a persona for your managers to follow. This will depend on the nature of your product and how you want to use social media.

If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in our guide to social media influencer marketing. We also have resources for everything you need to know about email marketing and Adjust’s global app trends for 2021.


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