July 3, 2022

Finance & Economy

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How To Bridge The Age Gap In Marketing

For many years, knowing how to market to Millennials was the hot ticket for most marketers. Today, advertisers are wrapping their heads around how to reach their younger counterparts, Gen Z—the generation that often feels like they’re ahead of the rest of us. 

While marketers are quickly shifting their attention to each incoming generation, they’re missing one key insight that’s been bubbling beneath the surface: no generation is the same, but no one in a generation is the same, either. 

People across every generation are defying norms more and more. More single women own houses than men. Men are going back to college in their 60s. Early-career workers are leading the great resignation rather than taking whatever job they can get after college. Women are delaying having children. And the list goes on.

The truth is, people are “growing up” at different rates or redefining what it means to grow in the first place. This variation inside generations creates a challenge for marketers, how do you market to changing peer groups?

And is the era of marketing to one generation over?

Avoid ageism in your marketing 

While this insight might sound obvious, it’s not obviously put into practice in marketing. For instance, one study found that “variation in aging successfully or in lifestyles is not promoted in advertising.” Another survey from AARP found that 69% of consumers ages 50 and older say media images are ageist. This could affect younger groups, too. New research suggests ‘acute’ ageism could be an even bigger problem for younger cohorts. 

Use your voice to remedy history 

When was the last time you looked back at your past marketing? Sometimes it takes looking back to show us where we came from and help us not repeat mistakes moving forward. This is why breaking norms in marketing is not only about redefining the norms of today but about shining a light on those who’ve defied norms in the past too.

As an example, see For(bes) the Culture; they’re highlighting overlooked Black business success and showcasing where Black entrepreneurship is headed. From redefining Black Wall Street to spotlighting America’s first female Black banker, State of Black Entrepreneurship is setting out to rectify history. 

Make your language more inclusive

How you refer to age groups or generations could keep customers (or top talent) away. Take the C-suite, for example. If you’re marketing to CxOs in today’s norm-breaking world, it’s just as common for younger talent to occupy the C-suite office as seasoned workers. And when you think about the other end, the same goes for rising talent.

Whether it’s women reentering the workforce or retired professionals seeking returnships, these individuals want to go where they’ll feel like they belong. And since your employees are a reflection of your company, one way to combat this is how you speak internally. Wawa proves this case by having conversations about changing the name of their young professionals group to “emerging leaders” to be more inclusive, according to Wawa’s recruiting lead, Marissa Martinelli.  

Be a part of defying the norms 

It’s one thing to change your strategy; it’s another to help change society. At Forbes, we believe in changing norms and giving a microphone to those who’ve defied the odds. Earlier this year, we launched our inaugural 50 > 50 list, highlighting women over the age of 50 who’ve achieved significant success later in life and who’ve often overcome formidable barriers. We’ve since expanded the series to feature women who’ve impacted society, those armed with a vision, and—most recently—the women creating new ways to make money.

Get to know your consumer again

There’s no doubt that the last 18 months have carried a lot of change, and chances are that they’ve also changed your consumers. As you rethink your marketing strategy ahead of 2022, now would be an ideal time to get familiar with who your consumer is today. How have their buying habits changed? How are their consumption preferences different? How have their core values changed? Chances are, you’ll see answers overlap across generations. 

As a marketer, it’s your moment to redefine who you’re marketing to—and make filling the age gap a part of your overall strategy. 

Read Also: The Rainmakers: Meet The Women Over 50 Creating New Ways To Make And Move Money

Storyteller Spotlight 

Speaking of examining your consumer’s core values, that’s one of the insights revealed in Capital One’s CxO’s Guide to Driving the Future of Business, the hub of a multi-part content experience on Forbes.com that included a robust research report. 

While growth was mostly flat in 2020, 53% of leaders surveyed expect to see “high” and “very high” growth by 2022. For leaders tasked with navigating their companies profitably through unsettled waters, Capital One landed on four actionable ways to help make growth happen, including re-examining core values.

How did Capital One and Forbes land on these insights? 

Well, for starters, the financial services company partnered with Forbes Insights to survey more than 1K U.S. mid-market executives in late 2020. From there, we used the data uncovered from the survey to build out a multi-faceted thought leadership series aimed at building trust and establishing meaningful relationships with existing and potential clients. 

Take a look: Capital One’s CxO’s Guide to Driving the Future of Business

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