A series of three articles recently published in the trade magazine “CRM” (Feb. ’12 issue) points up a lot of interesting research about the three “generations” of buyers that today comprise most of the customer base that any of us is trying to sell to. The articles covered a lot of ground, so below, we’ll recap just a few of their most interesting conclusions. They’re worth noting to web marketers and others who wish to appeal to these particular audiences:
These are folks in their teens to mid-30s. They’re multi-cultural to a greater extent than prior generations… They “live in the moment” (they are, after all, the Facebook generation). They grew up with the Internet, consume media online, and are the ‘wired’ generation. They’re interested in the visual and contextual: How does a product look and work (not what advertisers say about it). By 2017 they will outspend the Boomer Generation… their friends are their biggest influencers and they distrust canned messages. They blog and the v-blog (video) in ways that influence one another. They use social media and are passionate about changing and improving the world. They are irreverent (think Beavis & Butthead) but full of potential.
These are people in their mid 30’s to 40s. They’re the MTV generation… the latchkey kids. Gen X is tech-savvy, they grew up with PCs and video games, they’re highly connected and wired. They use the web… for banking, research, product purchases. They will reach you on their own terms – they don’t like being told what to do or buy, and need a compelling reason to do so (including a money-back guarantee). They’re iconoclasts – they make fun of tradition and convention, and are a more ‘in-your-face’ generation than their forebears. They want their websites comprehensive, interactive, with many links to product info, and there they will buy books, music, tickets, and much more. 95% are said to be on Facebook (this sounds high to me). They read a lot, though not necessarily on paper (more onscreen). They’re the first generation with lower expectations than the prior one, and they grew up with a lot of trauma and drama. They buy on friends’ recommendations, their peers are very influential, and they’re big on social media, while being protective of their hard-earned dollars.
Spending is said to peak at 50, and these folks are 54 on average. After 54, a savings binge begins. Analysts say this spells doom for big box retailers, among others. These folks are going to prefer saving over spending. But as a group, they’re expanding rapidly, and do have real purchasing power, despite the havoc wreaked on most due to the collapse in housing. Boomers prefer ‘experiences’ over ‘stuff.’ They’re still the majority of voters, and they are the youngest ‘oldsters’ ever (“60 is the new 40” and all that). They are on a quest for vitality, and the products that support it. They put a high priority on family, and living close to them, exacerbated by their high rate of divorce. They will spend on tech and on ease-of-communications products. They want value, service, and to deal with a real person. They’re savvy and experienced consumers. If you appeal to them you’ll be rewarded; if you marginalize them, you’ll be penalized.
And of course, the editors at CRM conclude with the most obvious recommendation: Don’t create a separate (marketing) program for people over 50. Rather, make a broadly universal, “ageless” appeal to all generations. As they say, “Ageless marketing is the future. Bet on it.”
As we move into February: Beginning with our next post (and the five that follow it) we’ll dig down into a topic of importance to many of our clients and followers: How to Attain Fulfillment Excellence in Your Warehouse.
We’ll spend most of February on the topic, and you’ll learn about the latest research in how WMS (Warehouse Management Systems) helps make companies better at order fulfillment. Stay tuned…