How well do you know your target audience?

Target audience across generations

We’re going to unpack what it means to identify your target audience and learn about the differences between the generations. Currently there are 8 billion people in the world and counting, we all have different interests, different financial situations and different shopping habits if we are privileged enough. It is important to know who you want your business to appeal to, so that you can put the right marketing messages and strategies in place to attract them. This is what a target audience is.

Gen Z and what they are buying

When speaking about Gen Z, we are referring to those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, although other years sometimes blend into this generation as there isn’t a fixed date period yet. Gen Z live in a busy, colourful world and have access to tons of information that previous generations did not have, due to their growing up with the world wide web and social media. Some statistics about Gen Z show that 77% have taken some form of action for a cause they believe in, which shows how proactive they are in societal issues. 23% of Gen Z have even boycotted a brand due to their beliefs, the existence of ‘Cancel Culture’ is evidence of this, as people and brands have found themselves being ‘cancelled’ for various reasons such as exploiting their workers or testing on animals. This is why ethical marketing is such an attractive and important factor for Gen Z shoppers. And they love a truly purpose-led brand.

A way of living that Gen Z seem to have taken a liking to and is slowly becoming less of a niche for that reason, is the minimalistic culture. This falls under many different categories. Contrary to beliefs and stereotypes surrounding Gen Z, such as them being the technology generation who are constantly glued to their phones, there is actually a huge market for nature and all things natural. Whether it is veganism, aborting fast fashion for thrifting, or using natural skincare and makeup that isn’t tested on animals or contains harsh chemicals. The Ordinary is a skincare brand that became overwhelmingly popular in 2020 due to going viral on TikTok. Their packaging is very minimalistic, with a plain and simple design that says it exactly how it is. They include on their packaging what is in their products, how and when to use them as well as how to layer with other products. In terms of clothing, being thrifty has become increasingly popular amongst Gen Z; websites like Depop and Vinted have allowed people to sell their old clothes and jewellery as an alternative to throwing it away or purchasing fast fashion items that are often produced in an unsustainable way. An example of the power that Gen Z hold as an audience can be seen in how the TV show Love Island (popular amongst 16–25s), used to be sponsored by Pretty Little Thing and other similar fast fashion brands, however, this year they opted for an eBay partnership instead. This was a smart move, showing that they know their target audience as it showed their efforts to support sustainable fashion and how well they understand their core viewing audience. It received a lot of PR coverage and eBay also produced customer marketing campaigns to highlight the sponsorship.

Who is Gen X and what do they care about?

Gen X is the generation that sits before millennials and after boomers. They aren’t spoken about as much as the other generations but it’s interesting to compare them to Gen Z since the majority of them are their parents. According to research they are very practical when it comes to shopping, meaning they are not particularly wooed by flashy advertising but they rely more on showcasing why the product or item is actually worth their investment. This also means that unlike Gen Z, influencers will not act unless there is sufficient evidence that a product or service is worth investing in. They don’t tend to be impulse buyers and will spend days to months considering whether they should go ahead with a purchase, especially if it is for long term usage. For Gen X, SEO strategies are crucial to reach them as it helps them when it comes to doing their research on products. According to an article on Hubspot, 33% of Gen X say that online search is their preferred method of finding new products, however, social media is where they discover new products most frequently. When it comes to in-person retail shopping, 30% of Gen X do prefer to do that, but with society leaning towards online shopping due to convenience. This generation like the rest has been proven to shop online more than in physical stores.

Seeing as Gen X are people born between 1965 and 1980, meaning they age roughly from 40-54, they are at their highest-earning years. So out of any other generation at the moment, they do have the most influence over company decisions. They are more likely to make bigger purchases than Gen Z and, like previously stated, most of them do have a family to look after so it is important to provide them with security that your products are reliable and your business is trustworthy. To achieve their loyalty, you must ensure that your work reflects your values so that they can see if it aligns with theirs. Gen X are known to prefer brands that are authentic and honest as they don’t fall for gimmicks or overly glamorous displays.

Who are the Baby Boomers and what are they buying?

Baby Boomers are those born between 1946-64 and despite the stereotypes of older generations despising anything technological, baby boomers actually tend to make more online purchases than any other generation. Due to them being the oldest of the two generations previously mentioned, they do tend to have a lot more money saved up so therefore are likely to spend more. Boomers are responsible for significant economic growth across the globe. During the pandemic, around 3 million baby boomers retired, so they have more time on their hands to surf the internet and buy the things they love and enjoy, compared to other generations. According to an article on BabyBoomers.com, the most popular three categories that purchases are made from are wine, books and household goods. Baby Boomers have been through a lot in their lifetime, having experienced numerous changes to the economy and many significant political and social events.

Although each generation may possess unique qualities and interests, it’s important to remember that your ultimate customer is an individual person, not a statistic or concept. It’s fundamental to figure out what problem your product or service solves for people and communicate the benefits rather than just the features. Your target audience could be a whole generation, or perhaps you need to adapt your tactics to attract a portion of several generations simultaneously.

Kiisi Lée, intern at Shake It Up Creative

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