Defining your target audience: Marketing to Boomers and Millennials

There are vast difference between Baby Boomers and Millennials, not least of which is how they identify with the companies they buy from. Baby Boomers, raised during the Cold War, are often influenced by the Madison Avenue-days of marketing and advertising. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up through an entirely different era of media consumption. Shopping malls and the Internet have reshaped branding strategies and how companies reach their audience. While Generation X blends the lines between Boomers and Millennials, these two demographics are so vastly different in their preferences and how they perceive a brand that it often makes it impossible for a company to market to both at once.

This can be challenging for companies trying to rapidly expand their target demographic. Firms that create products relevant to both audiences have to carefully consider their marketing tactics and how to meet the expectations of both. This is particularly common in the technology field, as firms seek to sell devices and gadgets to every demographic with a bank account.

In order to explore the best target audience, as well as how to blur the lines between the two and appeal to both, businesses have to consider what makes each generation unique, how they are similar, and where it simply doesn't matter. Below are a few thoughts on this topic:

Millennials are all about sharing

With the Internet came the age of social media. Even before Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging and blogs allowed people to share their thoughts and, more commonly, opinions with the world. The sharing of brand preferences is much more common among Millennials than it is with Baby Boomers, so businesses need to keep this in mind. Making marketing messages shareable across social media is a key way to target this generation, but shoving this forward above other aspects of the advertisement could drive away Boomers, requiring a fine balance between the two.

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, care more about reputation and image. They want the brands they invest in to be endorsed by experts, such as doctors or scientists, and are less interested in what brands celebrities endorse. Most firms are likely to have much more experience marketing to Boomers, so simply remember to maintain some of the key elements while incorporating non-conflicting preferences of Millennials.

Personalization is key

Both generations have embraced the new levels of personalization that companies can incorporate into their marketing efforts. Boomers and Millennials appreciate feeling like marketing messages are directed to them as an individual, rather than a broader demographic. Ultimately, for many companies the main effort here will be in learning more about their customer base.

Both groups enjoy connecting with brands on a personal level, companies that they feel represent them as a person, not that just create a quality product. This can be easier with Millennials, however, as they often engage more extensively with the brands they purchase from. According to a study by The Boston Consulting Group, 50 percent of Millennials  younger than 25 and 38 percent of those ages 25-24 agree that the brands they purchase from need to "say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in."

Ultimately, the decision to market to one group or the other will be determined by the appeal of the product or service a company is advertising. However, in order to fully leverage marketing potential, brands need to ensure they're using the right tool. In both demographics, technology plays a key role, so make sure your business is using mobile text marketing and other channels to their full advantage.