The Generations and Advertising

3rd Aug 2018

The Generations and Advertising

A blanket advertising campaign will not agree with everyone. Simple. And that could be down to the generations of your audience and their associated differences. In order to grab attention from the widest possible group, you've got to cater to each generation and understand the best way to target each one.

First then, a lesson:

  • Generation X are born between 1965 to 1980.

  • Generation Y (the 'millennials') are between 1981 to 1996 (to much debate).

  • The babies of the bunch, Generation Z ('Gen Z') are born 1997 onwards.


Generation X make up 28% of the UK's population alone. That's a big ol' chunk to advertise your business to. So what have you got to do to get them engaged?


Don't make the mistake of thinking Generation X are ignorant of technology and the internet - many companies led by younger generations have taken that viewpoint and consequently ignored them. That means you're cutting off an entire generation just because you believe they don't know the difference Apple and Microsoft. They're not all technophobes you know.


Your best bet with Generation X is physical direct mail pieces. Nostalgia plays a massive part with this group, so anything reminiscent of the 1970s/1980s would be the way to go. Incorporate a throwback trend into your direct mail design, and you'll be onto a winner. All you've got to do is make it relatable - they don't want to buy into your company when it doesn't resonate with themselves.


Millennials are often the most vied for. An estimated 12 million people makes up for a pretty key generation to advertise towards.


While not necessarily used as an advertising device, use reviews - millennials need to make sure your product or service is worthwhile through asking friends or looking at its reviews. As a millennial myself, I can vouch that this is true - everytime I go to try something new, I always check to see what everyone else says first. What's the point of getting it if everyone tells you it is rubbish? Make sure your reviews are the best they can be, so just keep offering that quality service and/or products if you want to draw in the millennials.


While Generation X want nostalgic advertising, millennials want the artsy type. Just look at any of the big design trends for this year; they're all up millennials' street. Innovation is key - come up with something fresh, and you'll get the millennials interested. And add a bit of humour too.


If your company is renowned for its charity work, millennials will be after you. Famed for being dedicated to making the world that bit better, millennials will fight for a good societal and public welfare justice issue. If you start going public (whether that be overtly or covertly if you don't want to be seen as PR greedy), this type of advertising will help draw the attention of the millennials. It's also a good incentive to start giving back.


Now onto the youngest of the three - Gen Z. Image is key to them - they'll only take an interest in a brand they feel is in line with their personal identity. This can be pretty exclusive, but once a company's cracked it, those from Gen Z will stick with them.


You've probably guessed that Gen Z have the shortest attention span of the bunch (just eight seconds to be precise) due to all the technology that surrounds them, so you've got to make an impact right off the bat. A video will probably be your best bet with them, since you can present your brand with minimum effort from their side; all they've got to do is watch. Although you've got to be wary of the dreaded five second window before 'Skip Ad'. It's easier said than done, but you've got to make it interesting enough for Gen Z to stick around to watch it, even if that means continuous trial and error and seeing what works best.


You've got to be clever about it though, as Gen Z don't pay much attention to overt advertising. Might not be helpful, but you've got to figure out a way to advertise without advertising - by producing something viral, having a witty account, etc. will get you the attention you need.


If your company and its products are suitable for social media advertising, then run wild. Just as a heads up - Gen Z spend most of their social media time on Snapchat or Instagram, so create an interesting enough account to get the youngest generation following you.


As a general consensus, everyone responds well to video content; however, you've got to be prepared for your video to be watched without sound. On Facebook alone, 85% are watched silently, so if you want to go down the video route, provide subtitles.


Ultimately, we are not all the stereotypes of our generation - what might appeal to one person may not appeal to the next. So as long as you keep that in mind, you'll be just fine.

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