If the majority of your customers are baby boomers or Gen Zers, then marketing is a simple matter of reaching that generation where they spend the most time and in a way that speaks to them. However, what if your business targets several different generations? How do you customize your customer experience to appeal to various age groups while remaining relevant to all of them?
About 73 percent of traditionalists and 67 percent of baby boomers prefer to interact in a store, while the younger generation takes the opposite approach, with 66 percent of Generation X and 64 percent of millennials preferring to interact online.
If your business is one that needs to appeal to both younger and older consumers, your best bet is to reach out both online and offline in an attempt to cover all your bases. Here are nine ways to customize your in-store and online experience to reach multiple generations:
1. Send Targeted Emails
Most generations are open to receiving emails from brands they already follow. Gen X is less likely to be loyal to a specific brand and open to discounts. On the other hand, baby boomers care less about discounts, so try to reach them on an emotional level instead. Millennials prefer coupons and discounts by about 80 percent, so to customize your customer experience, send emails targeting their love of a good deal.
2. Vary Your Content
If you need to reach multiple generations, understand that the way older people absorb content is different from someone raised on social media. If you want to reach multiple generations, you must vary the length and style of content so it reaches across different ages and preferences.
Scotts Menswear targets men from multiple generations by providing a wide variety of content on its blog. Note how topics include sports highlights, how to dress for rainy days, features of a variety of music festivals and bands, and even ideas for Father’s Day gifts. By offering a range of topics, it reaches multiple generations.
3. Understand Device Preference
Take the time to understand preference in the types of devices different generations utilize. For example, if you currently have a full roster of baby boomer customers and want to also add some Gen Z into the mix, you’ll want a social media presence. Not only that, but you’ll want to target Gen Z where they spend the most time, on Instagram and Snapchat.
Younger generations are most likely to access your site via mobile, so you’ll want to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. On the other hand, baby boomers are more likely to access your site via a PC, so you’ll also want to make sure your site works equally well from a desktop computer.
4. Find Common Ground
When you want to reach multiple generations, find common ground between two or more age groups. For example, is there an interest multiple generations share that you can focus on as a company? How can you tie that common ground into your product or service? Take the time to brainstorm the interests and needs of all your customers, and then figure out what is alike across different generations.
Quincy Compressor finds common ground among multiple generations by focusing on something both old and young enjoy: Hunting. It then takes that topic and relates it to its products through an infographic that explains how to skin a dear with an air compressor. The infographic works equally well for a website or in an email.
5. Plan a Social Media Strategy
When it comes to marketing to multiple generations, don’t overlook social media as a viable platform. More and more people are getting on social media.
About 91 percent of baby boomers have a social media account, but they tend to favor Facebook over Twitter. On the other hand, if you also want to reach Gen Z, you’ll want to be on Instagram. To customize your customer experience, you may need to devise a social media strategy that crosses multiple platforms and has a unique approach for each one.
6. Take Out Print Ads
Print ads are still viable, but you have to know where to reach the age groups you want to target. If you want to reach an older generation, then a magazine geared toward that age group is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want to reach millennials, a free weekly newspaper for a specific area works well.
AARP has launched a print and online advertising campaign geared toward older executives and getting them to invest in their futures. Note the print ad listed above that showcases someone from that generation and talks about age and investment portfolios. This type of highly targeted print advertising works well to reach the age group AARP wants to reach, but also gets younger generations thinking about the future.
7. Create an in-Store App
Does your store have an app? People of all ages enjoy downloading an app that provides a loyalty program, offers discounts or gives other perks to users. Encourage your customers to download the app and then track their purchases. You can offer pings when an item they’d be interested in comes into the store or goes on sale.
8. Engage Generations
Take the time to think through what will engage the typical customer who enters your store. This might mean different things for different generations. For younger people, technology they can interact with, such as an app, might be the best draw. On the other hand, older people might be more appreciative of face-to-face contact and a greeting from an employee.
Cracker Barrel is a good example of an in-store experience targeted to multiple generations. Baby boomers and traditionalists love the greeting from store employees and the ability to sit in rockers on the front porch or play a game of checkers. Millennials and Gen Y can order quickly online and pick their food up, minimizing contact if they prefer. Even the store has items for all age groups, from the very young to the very old.
9. Track Everything
No matter which generations you’re targeting, track their buying habits and how many from each range are interacting on social media or visiting your website. The more information you gather, the better you can market to those people who already love your product and expand your reach further. Test a variety of campaigns and figure out which ones have the best return on investment (ROI).
In-Store and Online Experience
Customer experience should remain consistent no matter where customers visit you, whether online or in-store. Even though you can apply generalizations to each generation, remember that your customers are made up of unique individuals who may or may not fit into those categories.
To customize your customer experience, always listen to your customers and note how they respond to your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a customer is a millennial or a traditionalist. What matters is the specific needs of that individual and how you meet those needs.
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Lexie is a UX designer and software prototyping enthusiast. Most of her mornings are spent writing HTML code with a large cup of coffee in close proximity. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.