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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

How to Bridge the Marketing Gap Between Gen X and Gen Y

It's been said that you can't please all of the people all of the time and it holds true for marketing, as well.  Especially, when it comes to the generation gap between Gen-X and Gen-Y consumers.

That's the finding of new research by Nelson Barber, an associate professor of hospitality management at the University of New Hampshire, who looked at the shopping habits of Gen-X and Gen-Y consumers.

Those groups together comprise 116 million consumers. Generation X is generally considered those people born between 1964 and 1977. Generation Y is identified as those born between 1978 and 1998.

Barber decided to try to understand what marketing methods work best for each group by examining how each comes to its purchasing decisions.  He discovered that the differences in their shopping habits have significant implications for marketers.

"Generation X is very motivated to search for purchase-related information and is adept at searching. Generation Xers tend to use information not as a point of pride but as assurance that they are not being taken advantage of by marketers and are getting the best deal possible," said Barber. "Generation Y selects and consumes products that help them achieve their goals of blending in with the crowd or a certain group; thus, they are influenced by the need to conform in order to be liked and accepted by them."

The differences in the buying psychology of these two groups present a great challenge for retailers as the crucial holiday season approaches. However, knowing that Generation-X consumers want to gain an understanding of products before purchasing them and knowing that Generation-Y shoppers focus more on the opinions of others before completing a purchase can also be a great advantage to savvy retailers.

Therefore, business owners who hope to have a happy holiday season can target Generation-X shoppers by catering to their desire to have information accompanying each purchase decision.  Since Generation-X consumers often look to the Internet as well as traditional means of advertising, retailers must target these consumers in a multitude of ways, according to Barber. On the other hand, retailers can take advantage of the shopping habits of Generation-Y shoppers by utilizing social media and mobile devices as they target these shoppers. Since Generation-Y consumers are much more reliant on the opinions of others, Barber also recommends that retailers focus marketing campaigns with an emphasis on "peer interaction" or by promoting the popularity of a product among peers.

"For Generation X, marketing strategy should focus on providing product-related information that is verbally and visually rich and highly informative because such messages are compatible with the needs of elaborate processors," said Barber. "Because Generation Y is media savvy and conscious of being the target of marketing, brands that succeed will be those that open a dialogue, admit their mistakes, and essentially become more transparent."