Millennials have never known a world without the internet, and most have had a smartphone in hand since they were young.
This means their consumer journey and related purchase behaviors are far different from people in previous generations, like Gen Xers. And with these two generations taking over the workforce and the population, companies can’t afford to ignore their consumer preferences. Some marketers are having a hard time tailoring their efforts to best engage them, but the key is in the digital details.
For example, impulse buying is more common for Millennials than their Gen X predecessors. This is due, in part, to Millennials’ use of smartphones and the increasing popularity of using apps to purchase online. Roughly 70% of Millennials used an app to buy something in 2016, which was an 85% increase from 2014. Gen Xers, who are quickly catching up to Millennials in mobile use, still take a more considered purchase path that involves researching and comparing their options before buying.
These generational differences should be used to determine the optimal mix of marketing tactics to impact your unique consumer segments. If you ignore these differences, you risk wasting substantial time and money on the wrong marketing channels, types of content, and conversion strategies, eventually leading to lost sales and opportunities. So here are the three Cs to help tailor your marketing efforts to Generation X and Millennial consumers:
Because Gen X leans more toward informational content and third-party research when making purchasing decisions, brands should place greater emphasis on paid search and SEO. They should also leverage content designed to emerge when Gen Xers search for brand comparisons and third-party reviews on search engines. With socially oriented Millennials, on the other hand, you need to enhance and improve your search and discovery capabilities via social channels and leverage content that socially validates Millennials’ purchase decisions.
Once consumers have their eyes on your product or service—perhaps they’ve opted in to your content marketing or loyalty program—there are key differences on how to best nurture these relationships. Gen Xers prefer receiving new content and promotions via brand emails while their younger counterparts are generally more responsive to communications delivered via text messaging. Tailoring your marketing channels by generational preferences can determine whether your communications are seen by the right audience or simply deleted.
Studies have shown Millennials respond best to visual content—think video and images—which gets 94% more views than text-based content. So it’s easy to understand why their preferred mobile apps are visually rich platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Your brand content should take advantage of this generational preference and be a visual presence on Millennials’ preferred social media platforms.
Because Gen Xers prefer information-based content, visual content isn’t as much of a necessity for targeting them. Instead, fill your content for Gen X with data-rich product comparisons, buying guides, and credible third-party reviews that emphasize the quality and value of your brand versus alternatives.
The tone of your content should also be taken into account. Nearly 60% of Millennials say they purchase from brands that reflect their style and personality, while Gen Xers are often more concerned with getting the best deal possible.
Gen Xers were just gaining momentum in the workforce when the Great Recession hit. As a result, this generation developed more conservative spending habits and behaviors than we see with Millennials.
Gen Xers are often focused on getting the best products for the best prices. Therefore, to achieve higher conversion with Gen Xers, you should emphasize exclusive promotions, deals, and coupons. Time and ease of use is also highly valued by this busy generation. Subscription meal services Blue Apron and Plated, for example, have excelled in converting Gen Xers by offering discounts on a service that both provides great value and makes their lives easier.
Millennials, however, are driven less by discounts and more by current social trends and the opinions of their friends, peers, bloggers, and other influencers they trust. They also tend to be converted into customers because of customized loyalty programs and VIP experiences. Eighty-five percent of Millennials are more likely to purchase a product or experience that is personalized, whether that’s in-store or online. To drive greater reach and conversion, encourage positive interaction with your product by offering more ways for Millennials to share their opinions with friends and family members.
Brands don’t have to choose to market to one generation instead of another, but the content you create, the channel you deliver it over, and your conversion strategies should be tailored to each of your audience or customer segments. Gen Xers and Millennials are two distinct types of buyers, each with its own unique buyer personalities and behaviors. Make sure your brand embraces these differences and uses the three Cs to maximize your success.
A panel of Millennials spoke about their generation at Adobe Summit 2017. Here’s what they had to say: “Millennials: Our Intentions Are Good, But We Are Misunderstood”