Generational Marketing: How Different Generations Search

Learn how to best reach your target audience

When people are in need of a service, there are several different ways they can find a business to help them. Some might start asking their friends and neighbors for recommendations, while others go straight to Google to do their own research.

One of the biggest predictors for how a consumer will search for a business is their age. Different generations search in different ways. If you want to make sure your consumers find your business, you need to know the generational differences in marketing. Then, you’ll be able to create powerful marketing campaigns that bring you more customers.

How Different Generations Search

how to market to baby boomer generation

Each generation shares some traits and life experiences, and those cross over into their purchasing habits. Millennials, who came of age during the rise of technology, are more likely to use the internet to research companies, whereas Baby Boomers are not as likely to do so. There are different techniques that businesses can use to ensure that their target customers find them and convert into paying customers.

But, one important tip to keep in mind is that search engines matter, no matter which generation you are targeting. Although it might not be the first place they look, Baby Boomers still use search engines. In fact, one Forbes article found that 96% of Boomers do.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 to 1964. These are the people who got through college (and a large majority of their lives) with typewriters and encyclopedias. Of course they’ve grown accustomed to having a smart phone in their pocket, but they don’t live and die by it. They are either retired, or getting very close to hanging up their briefcase for good.

Here are some of the ways they differ from other generations:

  • They prefer talking to real people rather than using a messaging platform. When it’s time for them to search for a dentist or vet or hairdresser, their first step is to personally ask people they know. If your business has a good customer base and reputation, you can use this to your advantage. Baby Boomers are extremely loyal. Once you convert them, they will bring all their friends and family with them. They put a lot of faith in face-to-face communication, which can be hard to scale. But, personal communication can be highly effective for this generation.
  • Baby Boomers trust traditional ads on television and in the newspaper. If they’ve seen your ad in a few mediums that are trustworthy, they are more likely to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. Businesses can also target Baby Boomers with mailer ads.
  • 65% of adults from ages 50-64 use social media sites. So, there are quite a few of them on online platforms. The vast majority of them are on Facebook, and they are active on the platform. Sometimes, Baby Boomers will ask their Facebook friends for recommendations, but most of them don’t use the ISO post. They are less likely to interact with businesses on social media platforms, though.

Targeting Baby Boomers can be challenging, because they aren’t likely to pull out their phone and search “chiropractor near me” on Google Maps. Some definitely do, but it’s a small proportion of the entire generation. One way you can boost customers is to have a referral program in place. If customers bring someone they know to the business, maybe they can get the next service free.

If you can lasso in some Baby Boomers into your business, you are in luck. This generation tends to spend the most of all the other generations and, as they age, are more likely to purchases services that simplify their lives.

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Marketing to Generation X

Although a lot of people like to talk about Baby Boomers and Millennials, there is a generation between them. Generation X is all those born between 1965 and 1984. They have families with older kids, and a large percentage of them have embraced the entrepreneurial lifestyle by launching their own businesses.

If you are targeting, this generation, remember that:

  • This generation came of age without technology surrounding them, but they’ve quickly adjusted to the tech era. They aren’t afraid to search for local businesses on Google. That being said, they also prefer hybrid marketing campaigns with both online and traditional assets. If you send them a direct mailer, which they respond well to, they might search for your business online and book an appointment. Get their attention on and offline, because they pay attention to both.
  • Generation X loves their coupons. One report by Valassis found that 93% of Gen Xers reported using coupons in the past year. They are savvy savers, because a lot of them lost their jobs and had to pivot their careers during the 2008 Recession. They don’t just wait for coupons to fall into their laps, though. They actively search for discounts to ensure they are getting the best deal. They follow businesses on social media so they can follow contests or deals and promotions.
  • Everyone wants to be reassured when they are making a purchase, but that desire is even stronger for Generation X. They do not want to be scammed, and that fear makes them a little uneasy when making a purchase. They take a lot of stock in online customer reviews. They will seek out reviews to ease their fears.
  • To help verify a business’ honorable intentions, Gen X likes to see that companies do some good with the money they have. Highlight the donations your company has made or the service projects your employees have participated in. They are do-gooders, and they expect the same attitude from the businesses they buy from.

Although Generation X is often looked over, your business shouldn’t make that mistake. As the top portion of this generation starts sending kids off to college, they are starting to have more purchase power. They search online — especially for discounts — but they also love some traditional marketing from time to time.

Fun Fact: Gen Xers are more likely to use a tablet than any other generation. 64% of them own one. Make sure that your website is optimized for tablets if you want to go after this generation.

how to market to millennials

Marketing to Millennials

Marketers love to talk about Millennials. They were born between 1984 and 1996, and they came of age with the proliferation of technology. Millennials are extremely tech-savvy, and they know how much power they have when they put their voices together. You should definitely have your eyes on them if you own a business.

Below are some ways Millennials search, and how to market to them:

  • With so much knowledge available at the touch of a finger, Millennials love to soak up information about brands and products. When they search for businesses, they do a lot of research before pulling out their wallets. 72% claim to research online before making an in-store purchase. While researching, Millennials tend to check out reviews and star-ratings. 84% of Millennials say that user-generated content (testimonials, comments, social media posts, etc) have an impact on their purchasing decisions. Your business needs to have quality reviews if you want to convert this generation.
  • For Millennials, mobile matters. 68% of Millennials believe that their cell phone is their most important device, according to a study by GlobalWebIndex. Businesses need to ensure all of their online assets are optimized for mobile viewing, including Google Maps, promotional emails and landing pages.
  • Because there are so many businesses Millennials can spend their dollars with, they often select businesses they share values with. They like authentic brands that stick to their values, and that use their power as a business to support social issues. They take this into account while researching brands. This support can be great for your business, because Millennials are more likely to engage with the brands they love. They like to regularly connect and interact with businesses, and they do that through blogs, videos, and social media platforms.
  • Millennials don’t mind sharing the experiences they have. Positive or negative, Millennials love to tell others the thoughts they have about their business. They also like to read what their friends have to say about different brands. These friends might be people they actually know, or they could be online influencers they will never meet in person. Both opinions matter to Millennials. For Millennials, your business’ online reputation is everything.

Most of the time, targeting Millennials can be straightforward. They research a lot, they trust reviews and user-generated content, and they want to know that your business has some values. But, Millennials can also be fickle. One reckless Tweet or poorly written response to a review can be shared over and over, destroying your online reputation.

In order to keep Millennials’ interest, you have to stay relevant. That means having active social media business pages and constantly getting reviews. Be consistent, and the Millennial buyer will follow.

Create the Perfect Campaign for Your Target Audience

Each generation has its quirks, and it’s good to be in tune with those quirks so you can ensure your marketing campaigns are successful. Always cover the basics, including having an up-to-date Google My Business listing and at least one social media business account. Strive to constantly get positive reviews, because they matter for every generation, albeit some more than others. If you put your business in the right place, your target audience will be able to find you.