Marketing strategies often center on identifying and understanding a target audience. For decades, demographics have been used as a way to identify the ideal target customer or consumer for a company or product, and age is frequently considered a critical factor.
There have been countless studies and articles written about different generations' characteristics and ensuing generational divides. Marketers and Marketing Researchers listened and followed suit with campaigns targeting distinct generations. However, the stereotypical notions of age are being flipped on their heads, leading to a rise in age-agnostic marketing.
Now, more than ever, context matters.
Our Framework 360°™ approach considers age as an important targeting and profiling variable, but not to the exclusion of needs, attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyle.
Marketing and Generational Studies
There is a reason why marketers target groups of people who belong to a distinct generation. Consumers in the same age groups hold similar views and personalities—which influences branding and messaging.
These are the most-targeted generations in America today:
1. Baby Boomers: Born between 1944 (after the end of WWII) and 1964, currently 56-76 years old (76 million in the U.S.).
2. Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1979, 41-55 years old (82 million in the U.S.).
3. Millennials: (Sometimes called GenY) Born between 1980 and 1994, currently 26-40 years old (73 million in the U.S.). Millennials are sometimes segmented into two distinct groups:
GenY.1 = 25-29 (31 million)
GenY.2 = 29-39 (42 million)
4. Generation Z: (Also called Post-Millennial, GenTech or, more recently, Zoomers.) Born between 1995 and 2015, currently between 5-25 years old. (74 million).
*Note that the exact dates of each generation can vary depending on the data source.
What is Age-Agnostic Marketing?
In a sense, we’re living in an age of no age. In the past, marketers might target senior citizens with ads for life insurance and walkers. Now, Marketers and Researchers recognize that Baby Boomers are firmly rejecting stereotypes about aging. They’re starting second careers and taking up new or forgotten hobbies.
Younger generations are also rejecting the idea that age should define everything about a person’s interests.
“Marketers need to understand that everyone is not your audience. The millennial cohort … is incredibly diverse and comprises individuals with varying interests, passions, and lifestyles. Gone are the days of mass marketing strategies. Consumers today are much more diverse and fragmented,” says Hannah Chapple of Affinio.
Why Is Age-Agnostic Marketing a Smart Strategy?
Generational segments no longer paint a complete picture of your audience. It is essential to further segment your audience based on shared interests and behaviors.
To reach the right audience, you need more context than "a 50-plus female living in XYZ City." What are her interests and habits? What smart device does she use? Does she shop online or prefer to go in-store? What are her hobbies? What causes does she support?
Case in Point: Baby Boomers Are Shifting into a New Kind of Mature Consumer
Considering they control an estimated 70% of wealth in the U.S., baby boomers are an attractive market segment. How and what you market to them can drastically impact your business goals. The thing is, boomers refuse to get old. This diverse group of consumers is adopting a youthful mindset, and therefore are responding to products and services that help them achieve this.
"Baby boomers are redefining what aging is and what old age looks like," says Jennifer Ailshire, assistant professor at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California.
This has major implications for marketers, product developers, and decision-makers. Products and pitches that were once exclusive to younger audiences are resonating with their older counterparts. This consumer segment wants to feel and be treated younger; your marketing strategy should reflect that.
Understand Your Audience Beyond Age Demographics
It is no longer enough to break down your target audience by age alone. Your strategy requires the right context that considers the characteristics and interests of consumers that are most likely to buy a product or service.
MMR Research Associates can help you develop a more in-depth, age-agnostic, understanding of your target audience to determine the best segmentation strategies and messaging. Contact us today to learn more.