Marketing to Specific Generations 101

John Hollins

John Hollins About The Author

September 8, 2020 at 8:55 AM


One of the most important elements of defining your target audience is age. Knowing what generation your ideal clients belong to can help you learn a great deal about them. The content they like to consume, where you can find them, and what things they're most likely to be interested in will help when creating your marketing materials. Utilizing specific marketing techniques catered to  the generation you're trying to reach can be beneficial to your campaign in many ways, including reaching those users where they're likely to be.

Consider, for example, T-Mobile. This mobile provider has a wireless phone package geared specifically toward individuals 55 and older. Not only does T-Mobile have specific content that can help this plan find its mark, including targeted social media marketing, the company may carefully choose when to show this specific ad, rather than the others in its arsenal. As a result, the company can find and target users who are more likely to appreciate that plan and its advertisements. 

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Identifying the Generations 

Each generation has different viewing and buying habits. Understanding these in detail is extremely important so that you are producing marketing materials that speak to their pain points and lifestyle, while also meeting them on the right platform. Let’s take a look at the different generation groups.


Traditionalists were born in or before 1945. This older generation is less likely to be on social media but may consume a great deal of television content, such as classic television shows and the news. 

Baby Boomers

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Most baby boomers have a fairly solid grasp of technology, are present on social media, and conduct regular internet searches. Many of them are still in the workforce, which is something to consider when deciding when to run your ads. 

Generation X

Gen X was born between the years 1965 and 1976. They have an even more solid understanding of technology than baby boomers. Members of gen X are most likely to listen to punk and grunge music, and they can be found across social media platforms. They can also be reached via email lists, and television programs geared toward midlife. 


Born between 1977 and 1995, millennials are quickly coming into their prime spending years. While many millennials might have struggled to get their careers started, most of them have now found their footing. With the majority of this generation in the workforce, their spending power has increased. They grew up in the digital age, so they're familiar with many types of streaming services and social media platforms. 

Gen Z

Members of Gen Z were born in 1996 or later. These digital natives prefer streaming to traditional television and are more comfortable on social media platforms than any other generation. 

Highlight The Generation in Your Ads

Customers want to relate to your ads. By representing the target audience in your marketing materials, you are more likely to get their attention. You can:

  • Use them as characters in scripted commercials
  • Feature them in your photoshoots
  • Showcase them in testimonials

Make sure that you're still keeping it diverse even when targeting a specific generation. This may include showing people of different ages within the generation, genders, or races as part of your advertising. 

Don't Use Stereotypes

Members of most age groups are well aware of what stereotypes have to say about them. While they might accept it or even embrace it, no one wants to be treated as a stereotype alone. You should do your research to know what your target audience wants and what's most likely to appeal to them. Keep in mind that it can change at any time and that your specific consumers may not fit the stereotypes you would expect from their respective generations. Generalizations can create a negative response to your marketing efforts or cause them to reject your brand, so make sure you avoid them when possible. 

Know Where They Are in Their Buyer's Journey

When marketing to different generations, it's important to know what stage of the buyer's journey they're in and how you can speak to them. Are they in the:

  • Awareness Stage
  • Consideration Stage
  • Decision Stage

Become familiar with the types of content that are appropriate for each stage and provide your customers with what they need to help move through the sales funnel.

Have Knowledge of Their Spending Power

Each age group has different levels of spending power. You want to make sure that you're targeting them with the right message for the right product, rather than offering something that isn’t within the purchasing ability of the group. Not grasping this could have a negative impact and leave your audience feeling like you are out of touch with them. 

  • Do they have more of an expendable income?
  • Can they afford to make bigger purchases?
  • Are they making lifelong purchases or more short-term, in the moment purchases?
  • Are they making experience-based purchases or are they buying tangible products?

The better you understand the generation you're marketing to and the funds they have available, the better you can focus your marketing efforts on exactly what they need to make a decision. 

Invest in The Favored Platforms and Channels Frequented by Their Age Group

You want to make sure that your ads are running on the platforms and channels where your target audience can be found. Consider the following:

Are they on social media? If so, what platforms are they using?  Seventy-three percent of adult members of Gen Z are on Snapchat, for example, while around 63% are on Instagram. Facebook, however, gets used much more often by millennials, members of Gen X, and baby boomers. 

What time do they typically use social media? This will help you determine the best times to post and engage with your audience in real-time.

Do they prefer photo or video ads? You want to make sure that you are catching their attention, so having the knowledge of what stands out to them will help in the creative process.

How do they consume video content? Knowing whether they prefer to watch live or stream their content will help you decide on what mediums to run your commercials. 

What other forms of entertainment do they engage in? This might include events, reading books and magazines, playing online games, and more. Once you find out where else they can be found, you will have more guidance as to where you can target your digital ads.

Marketing directly to the target generation you want to connect with is critical for your advertising efforts. Consumers want to feel as though the brands they do business with know what they are looking for and have their best interest at heart. By working with a media partner, you can often get the insights you need into how to market your business to the specific generation you're targeting. 

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