Generational marketing classifies groups of prospects by their age, interests, attitudes, values, cultural references and shopping practices. Retail habits and purchasing trends are continually evolving.

Many consumers fit the generational templates to the letter. Many do not, so flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness is key for successful website development and eCommerce strategy. Heineken dropped their ‘Open Your World’ tagline when testing highlighted that “to progress in life you must cross your border” was no longer interpreted as inspirational but as pressuring by their 25-34 year old target customer. This illustrates the changing needs of generations and how businesses of any scale need to adapt. Senior director of the global Heineken brand says,

“I’ve been doing marketing for 20 years and for the first time I have an audience that is completely different from previous ones and they make my life easier. The notion of purpose has emerged everywhere, including in developing markets which we were not expecting. Usually you have cultural difference in developed and developing markets but today millennials are very similar.” 

– Gianluca Di Tondo, Heineken.


The Generation Names.*

Born in the post WW2 era from 1946 – 1964, Baby Boomers are generally financially comfortable yet seek good value. They are the least likely of the groups to enjoy shopping and are the most likely to withdraw their custom after a sub-standard experience. They enjoy an uncomplicated shopping experience, preferring PC’s and Laptops to phones or tablets and will read long articles and print content to read it off screen. Not to be written off, with money and time on their hands, the over 65’s are a growing population to tap into, with them accounting for around 15.9% of the UK population in 2007; projected to grow to 20.7% by 2027.

Baby Boomers take time to read emails so make them count and format your content so it is printer friendly.

Born between 1965 – 1980, Generation X /Gen X are busy busy busy with careers and families. Their shopping habits are driven less by browsing and more by purpose and intent. They check emails regularly and use search engines extensively. They refer to online reviews and social media to affirm their choices. They are multi – networkers and spend an average of 1hr 51mins on social.

Enlist the services of reputable online review providers such as Feefo or Trustpilot to increase buyer confidence.

Millennials / Gen Y were born between 1980 – 1997. Historically, they have been the biggest eCommerce spenders. Information rich, millennials use all digital channels. Money conscious, they research before buying. They see shopping as an enjoyable social event and are more likely to go with friends and extend outings with trips to the cinema or restaurants as well. They are increasingly committed to effecting social good with their purchasing. Nearly 40% of millennials will use voice search by 2019.

Make sure your brand has a strong presence on all Social Media platforms, especially Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and optimise for Voice Search.

Generation Z / Gen Z are born from 1998 onwards and are considered ‘digital natives’. These kids have never caught sight of a Yellow Pages or an Encyclopaedia Britannica. They have never known life without digital access and will account for 20% of the workforce at the turn of the next decade. They use all the tech with a preference for mobile. Because of this, their demands are high, they expect interactive experiences, easy to navigate sites with quick load times. They turn to video to learn things and are prolific YouTube users. Highly responsive to ‘influencers’, Gen Z spend the highest proportion of their income online. If you think Mel and Sue are the faces of the Generation Game, you are Gen Z – young, tech savvy and wrinkle free, damn you.

Use cross device technology for a multi channel eCommerce experience, meaning customers can start shopping on one channel and finish sometime later on another with all items stored safely in their basket.


Insight & Instinct.

A quantitative attitudinal study of 15,000 millennials in over 20 countries conducted by researcher Martin Schiere discovered values of millennials were not dissimilar to those of Gen X and Baby Boomers. He noted that there were bigger variations in lifestyle and values within Millennials themselves than between the different generations. Evidence for generational marketing can be contradictory and this is for sure, sweeping generalisations suck. Labels are for food jars, not for human beings. Yes. However, both can be helpful, if not categorically accurate, in helping businesses to connect with their prospects more effectively. Using data points such as gender, average order value, personal interest and search history alongside cross-device technology can help businesses to understand how their customers interact with their brand and create a more personalised, tailored experience for all generations. Good game, good game.

*Not sorry