How to Group Customers by Age in Data Driven Marketing - dummies

How to Group Customers by Age in Data Driven Marketing

By David Semmelroth

It’s important to understand how to group customers by age in data driven marketing. You’ve heard of the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Greatest Generation. These are examples of what sociologists call age cohorts or generational cohorts. Cohort is another word for group. These groups have been studied extensively by both academics and marketers. That research can be very useful to you in developing your marketing campaigns.

Generational differences in data driven marketing

The basic idea is that we are all influenced by the society we grew up in. Major events and cultural shifts help shape our attitudes. The Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War are all examples of events that define generational cohorts.

People who grew up during the Great Depression tend to have attitudes toward frugality and self-reliance that reflect the scarcity of the times. Generation Xers’ attitudes toward authority are reflective of the tumultuous 60s and 70s. Their attitudes toward technology reflect the fact that they were around when the computer age took off.

There is a classic generation gap between younger and older people when banking. For example, many older people have never used an ATM machine. They go into a branch when they want to get cash or make a deposit. Younger people, on the other hand, might have never been inside a bank.

Understanding this type of generational difference can help you communicate effectively with different audiences. For starters, it can help you to pick an effective marketing channel. Older and younger generations have very different attitudes toward and experience with technology. So called “new media” campaigns using text messaging or social media are probably not going to resonate (or even reach) older generations. But they are indispensable for younger ones.

You can tailor your marketing message toward different generations as well. Being relevant requires understanding the popular culture of each generation. If you own a music store, you aren’t going to help your business by pushing Lawrence Welk CDs to 20-somethings. And you aren’t going sell many gansta rap MP3s to baby boomers. Your communications need to match your inventory to the generations for whom it is relevant.

The generation gap and digital media in data driven marketing

Generational differences are particularly critical when it comes to marketing through digital channels. Years ago people used a party line phone that was shared with the neighbors. Computers stored data on a cassette tape. Now a large and growing percentage of the population has never seen a cassette tape or a roto-dial phone.

One of the most important reasons to understand these differences is to gauge where consumers fall on the digital technology spectrum. In general, younger consumers have grown up in a highly advanced technological environment. When it comes to operating a smartphone,

In order to communicate with younger consumers, using the so-called new media is critical. Having a robust web presence isn’t enough. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile device are where young people are focused. Getting your marketing messages across depends on integrating with those devices. It also depends on making use of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In many ways, the process of buying ad placement in new media mirrors the way it’s done in traditional media like TV. You identify target audiences and place your advertisements on websites, search engines, and social media sites according to who’s viewing those sites.

Communicating in the digital space is generally much less expensive than TV advertising. And there’s a whole lot of customer information available for these channels. This information enables you to target specific audiences very effectively.

There’s a wealth of information describing in great detail the common traits of various generations available on the web. Countless studies have been done, and many of those publications are available for free or simply by registering on a website. The Pew Research center is a useful resource. Pew continues to research the characteristics associated with difference generational cohorts.