By Kizer and Bender
Here’s a headline for you: We’re beginning to think that maybe we are all not that different, and where we are different is technology based – the technology that was available to you when you were growing up has a big influence on you as an adult.
Georganne has a millennial daughter and a millennial son-in-law who are focused on raising their brand new baby Alpha (Generation Alphas are aged 0 to 6). She has a millennial son who is engaged to his lovely millennial fiancé. All four of them are working: Two are in sales, another climbs high in the sky to install cell towers, and another worked in the mortgage industry before choosing to become a stay-at-home mom. Our millennial family focus group also includes an architect, an exec in the Department of Veterans Affairs, an entrepreneur, a tour manager for a famous band and a teacher. Two are still in college.
They care about charities, are concerned about the environment, and the future of our country. They are grounded in the real world, and unlike every negative we’ve read about millennials, their faces aren’t stuck in an app 24/7. They prefer to shop locally, supporting local merchants. Sound familiar? Baby Boomers and Generation Xers do that, too.
But you still may be wondering how younger generations differ from older generations, and what you need to pay attention to when planning your marketing. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you out:
The 50+ Zoomers
The 50+ Zoomers are a combination of the Greatest Generation (born 1945 and prior) and the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). Many businesses are writing them off in favor of younger generations but that’s a mistake: Zoomers are active, they are reimagining their lives, and according to U.S. News & World Report, they hold 70 percent of all disposable income in the United States.
Zoomers can be tough customers who want it all. They expect attention from store associates, and services and conveniences that make their lives easier. Perhaps a review of your store policies and current offerings is in order? Schedule a store meeting to discuss what Zoomer customers have been asking for and implement what you can.
By the numbers, Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) is the smallest generation but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Gen X has a different outlook on life and that outlook transfers over to what happens on your sales floor.
Xers are willing to try products and brands that they have never used or heard of before – they can be your new product testers. They have been called “early adopters” because they enjoy discovering new products.
Gen Xers are both independent and skeptical – they don’t always believe your marketing. They want to see for themselves what you say is true. Xers also want to support local businesses – they like discovering fun and quirky shops. They grew up at the height of the self-serve craze so they frequent big box stores as well. They also tend to mix digital and brick and mortar shopping, using whatever venue best suits their needs at the time of purchase.
Xers are big on research, relying on what friends and family have to say, coupled with online reviews. If you haven’t checked what is being said about your store online, now is a good time to start. Did you know that the No. 1 reviewed business on Yelp is retail stores? You may have a Yelp business page even if you didn’t set it up yourself – why not check to make sure the information listed is correct? You’ll also want to visit Foursquare, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Google+ Local, and whatever site your community prefers – the list is endless. If you find a bad review, respond ASAP because a lie unchallenged becomes the truth. Visit Mention.com and sign up – it’s free. Mention monitors billions of sources in real time so you won’t miss anything that’s being said about you or your store.
Millennials currently represent $200 billion in annual buying power. According the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. Born 1980 to 1995, Millennials have always been a big part of conversation, from the time they were born someone has asked for their opinion. We’re not so sure we buy the “everyone gets a trophy” theory, but we do know that Millennials have been encouraged by parents, grandparents, coaches, and teachers all of their young lives.
Millennials were digital in diapers; their world goes 24/7. Ask a Zoomer what WWW means and they’ll say “World Wide Web”, ask a Millennial the same question and you just might hear, “Whatever, Whenever, Wherever”. They enjoy an interactive online experience. Remember sites like Build a Bear, Webkinz, and Petz? Kids could spend hours on those sites if mom and dad said it was okay.
Texting is their favorite form of communication with friends and family, but not with you unless they opt-in first. For communications with their favorite retailers, email does the trick. Your email blasts should be sent every 10-15 days and should include an offer. Use more photos and less copy:BIG photos. The customer should be able to buy just based on your subject line alone. And those offers or coupons need to be redeemable via cellphone – asking customers to print out a coupon is a big no-no. Be authentic and get to the point! In a recent survey 41 percent of Millennials said the main reason they abandoned content was that it was too long. TMI, dude.
Generation Z: The Zeds
Zeds have had technology at their fingertips all of their lives, it’s second nature to them. They look to the next big thing, which means you will have to come to their terms because they are not interested in yours. Your online content needs to be creative, relevant, and fun or the Zeds will simply tune you out.
Texting and using apps like Snapchat have caused them to develop “8 second filters” – they can take in tremendous amounts of information at one time, and lose interest just as fast. Even more so than Millennials, Zeds communicate in sound bites – long blocks of copy send them right to the delete button.
Remember this: Zeds aren’t just consumers, they’re curators. They are cataloging their lives on social medias. In fact, social media is where they like to discover stores and brands and products, evaluate them, share them, and rate them just like the Millennials. Your store must be on Facebook and Instagram. Check out Snapchat as well because its user base reportedly just hit 100 million people. Young people. If you want to attract them you need to go where they like to hang out. Share what’s happening at your store, take them behind the scenes, and to trade shows. Ask questions about what they like to make – be creative! Regardless of the customers’ age, your job online is to build relationships, connect with customers, engage them in conversation, and influence where they shop.
So back to our original thoughts on how we are really all more similar than we are different, we love this quote from Peter Pan: “Some say that as we grow up, we become different people at different ages, but I don’t believe this. I think we remain the same throughout, merely passing in these years from one room, to another, but always in the same house.”
Technology aside, when it comes to values, maybe we’re really not so different after all.
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.