Generational Marketing: How to Best Market to Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials

Generational Marketing

The phrase “Ok, Boomer” was coined by Millennials as an intended dismissal to never “listen to anyone over 50.” From their perspective, this comes from a place of defense, since they gained a bad rap by Baby Boomers who labeled them as self-entitled, lazy, and overly sensitive. On the other side, Millennials view Boomers as unaware, outdated, controlling, and judgmental. As for Generation X, well, they’re the middle child caught in-between. So, who are these generations, and do they even represent today’s ideal customer? In a word: yes.

First, let’s take a look at the demographics:

           Generation                   Born                        Ages

               Millennials                                    1981-1996                              24-39

               Gen X                                             1965-1980                             40-55

               Boomers                                        1946-1964                             56-74

Today’s oldest Millennial is 39 years old. There’s a good percentage of this group that owns a home, has children, established credit, and a stable career.  This means they are making purchase decisions on many products and services we all use, regardless of age.

Beyond making sweeping generalizations about these age groups, neglecting to understand how to best target these generations can lead to losing out on an entire group of shoppers that use your product.

So how do you market to these different generations?  While some generations respond to a phone call, others get hooked on a product because it’s environmentally friendly. We’re going to break down the attributes and buying behavior for three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials, and give you the best ways to market to each.

Don’t Underestimate the Baby Boomers

Before you think of Boomers as dated and “out of touch,” consider this: Boomers have the highest value as customers in the market today. Why? Because the majority of this group has the money to spend. According to an article from Packaged Facts, Boomers possess 54% of all U.S. household wealth. They are at or nearing retirement, and are more likely to splurge on big-ticket items.

They may have not grown up on the internet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy new technology. Many are comfortable with online shopping and use social media, particularly Facebook.

Generational Marketing: Baby Boomers

This group of individuals values good conversation. They’ll still pick up the phone and leave voicemails and they like to talk to real people, face to face. More importantly, they are loyal to products and good customer service.

Tips For Marketing to Baby Boomers

   1. Create Brand Loyalty

When this generation finds a brand they like, they stick with it. If your product provides great value to Boomers, you’ve got a customer for life. Find ways to capitalize on that loyalty with membership perks, auto-renewals, and loyalty rewards.

     2. Keep It Simple

This generation still enjoys a good read and a personable phone call. They’re more likely to read that long-form blog post or email campaign. They appreciate the straight-forward sales approach and solid customer service. Skip the fancy bells and whistles, and opt for marketing your product in a way that will make their lives easier.

Generational Marketing: Generation X

Often referred to as the bridge between Millennials and Baby Boomers, this generation is a unique blend of traditional habits partnered with new technology. They are the OGs of My Space, grew up without online shopping, and were devoted fans of MTV “before they quit showing music videos.”  They are a true hybrid. Generation Xers are comfortable with online technology, but still value getting a good coupon in the mail.

Tips for Marketing to Generation X

     1. They Love a Good Deal

Generation X is all about making smart purchasing decisions. They are less likely to splurge or impulse buy. They gravitate towards the products that have a good deal attached to it. Consider attracting this group with a buy-in offer to win them over.  Additionally, this generation is plugged into the internet all day with work, and still prefer email to communicate. A marketing campaign through email or social media is the ideal outlet to reach this group.

     2. They Don’t Move With the Trends

Gen Xers are more likely to buy a product or service that shows how it benefits them in the long run. Their mindset is more of “it may not be the most attractive shoe, but my feet are comfortable.” Generation Xers are big fans of brand loyalty, and won’t be swayed by what’s trending if it’s not practical. In terms of technology, this generation is comfortable with digital channels, and love Facebook and Twitter.

Generational Marketing: Millennials

Millennials are digital natives. They consume nearly all their content exclusively online. They are more swayed by influencers and are more open to new opportunities and products than other generations. They are also researchers. Millennials are more likely to do extensive research on a product and check online reviews before making a purchase. One important element to Millennials is that they began entering the workforce as the economy crashed and as a result, are the largest generation of entrepreneurs.

They tend to be more tender-hearted and are motivated more towards doing things they love vs. doing something for money. That said, Millennials are an economic force and have over $200B in annual purchasing power given they are now the largest generation.

Tips for Marketing to Millennials 

   1. Focus on Innovation

Millennials are all about the next best thing. They place more value on finding a better way to do a common task. To best market to a Millennial, showcase what makes your brand niche, and what features make it a cut above. This generation is more responsive to making life easier, so ensuring their online shopping experience is fast and seamless is a must.

     2. Connect through Social Media and Online Reviews

This group makes purchase decisions based on what they see. The more images and videos, the better. They will be more likely to buy a product based on what they see on Instagram vs. receiving a coupon. Social media is a huge gateway to reaching Millennials because they are more likely to check out businesses through their social channels first vs. visiting their website.  Additionally, they look for recommendations before making a decision. Having a steady flow of positive online reviews works wonders with this group.


It’s very easy to make generalizations about each group, but nonetheless, all of these generations make purchases. Not every consumer will respond the same way, so it’s important to identify your target audience and try to understand what motivates their unique personality and buying behavior. Generational marketing is a more broad approach, but if implemented, will help you hone-in on a large segment of consumers more effectively.

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