12 Tips on Marketing to Different Generations

8 min read

Everyone knows that each generation is different from both the previous one and the one to follow (just look at your children or parents). For marketers, understanding the difference between generations is necessary so that they can develop effective different generations marketing campaigns (not to mention being beneficial for parenting).

According to the Strauss–Howe generational theory, the entire population of the globe is divided into groups that have unique sets of values and preferences that must be taken into account when creating content. Based on this, GMS selected recommendations for working with the three most technologically advanced generations: Generation X, millennials (Generation Y), and Generation Z.

Approximate ranges of each generation:

Generation X — 1961–1981

Millennials (Generation Y) — 1982–1996

Generation Z — 1997–2010

Different generations marketing gms global message services

Generation X

Generation X has many characteristics that make them attractive target demographics. They are active in social networks — 88.6% of active Internet users of this generation spend an average of 54 minutes a day on Facebook. Despite being financially independent and possessing an impressive purchasing power, Generation X is often left out of the marketers’ scope: 54% of them are frustrated by brands constantly ignoring them.

What will help reach this generation:

1. Email marketing

Email campaigns are perceived to be a hopelessly outdated way of communication by many millennials, while often treated as “too modern” for baby boomers. However, emails are the gold standard for both personal and business communication for Generation X. Sadly, many marketers ignore this channel, although 59% of them agree that email as a communication channel provides for the highest ROI. Gen X checks their inboxes regularly, so it would be wise to approach them with personalized offers based on their interests and previous purchases.

Gen Xers are the missing link between tech-savvy millennials and conservative baby boomers, and their buying habits reflect this. Although they got used to brick-and-mortar stores while growing up, they have since realised the appeal of online stores.

Since Generation X accepts both ways of shopping, it is crucial to consider this fact when tailoring your different generations marketing strategy. Use local search to help customers find your physical store on a map: build loyalty by providing an equally high-quality shopping experience, regardless of the platform.

3. Facebook

Although millennials are usually considered to be the ones obsessed with social media, Generation X is just as likely to interact with brands on social networks. Since Facebook is the most popular social network among Gen Xers, it’s worth making sure that you provide users with all the necessary information and have developed a designated marketing plan for Facebook that facilitates engagement and drives sales.

  • Add a description to ‘About Company’ section.
  • Make sure your company details are correct: address, website, phone number and opening hours.
  • Use the Call Now action button.
  • Manage the feedback and respond to reviews / requests as quickly as possible!
  • Post regularly — at least one post per week.
  • Use Facebook ads to reach your target audience.
  • Offer customers promotional codes for discounts (use a special code for Facebook to track your ROI more accurately).

4. Nostalgia

Add a touch of nostalgia to your different generations marketing campaigns. Generation X is really into content reminding them of the good old days: quotes from books, films, and other media, vintage photographs, as well as mentions of specific events (however, in the latter case, you should be very careful). For example, try posting a photo on Facebook showing your product’s old design (or its evolution) and suggest commenting or sharing it.


Advertisers and marketers spend a lot of time and money trying to connect with millennials – the first generation of the so-called “digital natives.” According to Statista, their media consumption habits differ significantly from previous generations, which further complicates the work of advertisers, desperate to reach out to them. Similarly, their preferences differ when it comes to communication: millennials consider phone calls a violation of their privacy and prefer messaging to other methods of communication. So, what works for millennials then?

1. Engagement via content

Millennial consumers react poorly to traditional advertising communications written in “marketing language.” Millennials crave for original, organic content that lets them know that their interests are your main priority.

Your friend, say, a millennial musician, is more likely to send you a link to a series of videos featuring musical instruments or equipment (especially if his favorite artist has participated in the content creation), rather than telling you about seeing their advertising in a magazine.

Create content that naturally introduces your audience to your brand, values, and product. Be informative and engaging; don’t try to simply sell the product.

2. Mobile first

Your mobile site’s design is another crucial aspect of successful marketing for millennials. This generation comprises the largest group of active mobile device users: 93% of millennials own and regularly use a smartphone. If they are part of your target audience, it is imperative that your site and content are optimised for mobile devices.

This includes website design that is convenient to navigate and easy to interact with on any device. It’s also worth making sure that your content is optimised for smartphones, including content on your site and materials sent by e-mail.

3. Social media

If you want to establish contact with millennial consumers, you need to act through their channels of choice. Considering how much time millennials spend on social networks, it is essential to use given media to develop your brand, build trust, attract attention, and even drive sales. This is especially true, given that millennial buyers often interact with brands using social networks and tend to buy their products. The more you engage your millennial customers, the more likely they are to buy your product.

Additionally, you can use social networks as a customer service channel. When consumers ask questions via your pages on social networks, your business must respond to these requests quickly and accurately. This helps to increase satisfaction and demonstrates to other millennials on social networks that you put your customers first.

4. Customer collaboration

Considering that the majority of millennials strive for new experiences, there is no surprise they are happy to cooperate with brands. 42% of millennial consumers say they would love to help develop future products and services. This aspiration can be beneficial for brands that are always looking for opportunities to improve their products and services.

In addition, millennials are eager to share information about their favorite brands. Their loyalty cannot be bought, but it can be earned via building trust and growing relationships with the best customers. As a result, these customers will share their experiences on social networks and other channels, helping you improve your reach.

The logical development of the previous idea is user-generated content that your fans and subscribers create based on your products or services. Since it is crafted by real consumers, user-generated content becomes an instant confirmation of your statements on the product’s properties.

Generation Z

Openness, personalisation, and consumer experience are the key factors for effective engagement with Generation Z. As a result, it’s worth switching your focus from mass campaigns to highly targeted communications: according to the “The Youth of the Nations…” study by Snapchat, 91% of this generation regularly use instant messengers. So, when creating content for this generation, it is important to remember the following:

1. Shorter content

The average attention span of a millennial is 12 seconds, while for Gen Z it is only 8 seconds.

Also, the members of Generation Z use more devices on average. While the millennials switch between three screens, while Gen Zers can use up to five different devices at a time. Due to the shorter attention span, Generation Z hates ads and pop-ups that cannot be skipped, also avoiding lengthy content.

On average, Generation Z clicks the Skip button on skippable commercials in just 9.5 seconds, while Gen X — in 12.6 seconds. Thus, when creating ads for Gen Z, it is best to resort to short content, for instance, a YouTube ad up to 6 seconds long.

Generation Z is fond of video: 71% of teenagers aged 13-17 spend more than three hours a day watching online videos on their smartphones. Therefore, an excellent solution is the story format in Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, which combines short duration with the format, perfectly adapted for mobile devices.

2. Corporate social responsibility

Gen Zers do care about the world they live in, being well aware of environmental, political, and socio-economic issues.

According to “Uniquely Gen Z” research, this generation is concerned about the future of the planet more than any other generation. For this reason, 55% of Gen Z choose brands that care about the environment and are socially responsible.

Why does Generation Z want brands to be socially and environmentally responsible? According to Google, the younger generation wants brands to share their values and expectations from life. In other words, Gen Z wants you to have a noble goal that somehow makes the world a better place.

So, start with your core values and find a way to contribute to the development of the society or to fight for the environment, and distinctly communicate this to Generation Z.

3. Retargeting

Retargeting is a crucial tool for engaging with this generation. Once Gen Z members start getting familiar with your brand, it is essential to stay relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to achieve this. Retargeting is an easy way to make sales while maintaining audience loyalty. Due to the short attention span that we discussed earlier, this generation can easily forget about something if it is not reemphasised through communication. Retargeting — through social networks, banners, and display ads — is highly important for successfully marketing to Generation Z.

However, it is important to limit the frequency so as not to bother potential buyers when retargeting. If a member of this generation sees an ad too often, he may lose any interest. Reaching out too often can be perceived as pressure, which is exactly the opposite of the genuine interest that the client expects from the brand.

4. Micro-influencers

According to Business Insider Intelligence, the influencer marketing industry will reach $15 billion by 2022, compared to $8 billion in 2019.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Ariana Grande were the top influencers of 2019, and, although many brands cannot afford to cooperate with a world-class celebrity, this is not a reason to despair.

Consider working with micro-influencers: people who have from 1000 to 100 000 followers on social networks. Since Generation Z finds this category of bloggers easier to associate with, their content can be more attractive compared to their famous colleagues. Statistics show that as you gain over 100 000 subscribers, engagement levels tend to drop. Micro-influencer content results in a 60% higher engagement rate and 22.2% more weekly conversions — in addition to being 6.7 times more cost-effective.

An important point: pay attention to the presentation of your content. While millennials prefer carefully composed photos and videos, Generation Z chooses realistic, “raw” content.


Understanding your target audience characteristics makes it possible to generate engaging content and effectively interact with your audience. The generational theory helps us better understand our target audience and communicate effectively with it. Still, it is worth remembering that customers born at the junction of two generations can manifest qualities of both. This provides marketers with a vast space for experimenting with content and communication channel combinations for different generations marketing.

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