Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar collaboration professionals and their best practices at work. Throughout May, we’ll feature Marketing Analytics & Data Science experts.
As a preview to her presentation “Deciphering Generations X, Y, and V: How to Understand Next Generations and their Trends for Guaranteed Reach,” Jane shares insights on the importance of understanding generations for business success.
Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What are some key strategies for marketing to different generations?
Jane Buckingham: There are a few ways to approach this. If your brand is going for a particular age and niche, then you want a generational approach, in which case you want to appeal to the emotional and psychographic needs of that particular generation. Try to understand what sets them apart from the previous generations.
Is it a tone, is it a location, is it inspiring the brand fanatics and hypertailoring (appealing to younger generations), or redefining happiness and success (more Gen X), or helping to inspire and enlighten (for Gen Y)?
On the other side, if you are looking to cut across generations, you may be looking to talk to a mindset over the market. Looking to understand what your particular group of people thinks, what is it about your brand that will be appealing to someone no matter what their age? Are they fitness enthusiasts looking for purpose? Are they looking for comfort? Are they looking for safety? Some of these core values are cross generational and may be appealing no matter what the age.
PB: How do you address the challenge of everyone agreeing on a standard of when generations begin and end?
JB: This has gotten a lot trickier since Douglas Coupland wrote Generation X in 1991, and we started segmenting generations by 15 year periods versus 20 year periods. It became much less clear where and when a generation starts and stops.
Technically, generations are really defined by the factors that affect them as they grow up, and the cultural shifts in the world. But, how something will affect someone who is two at the time a generation is coined is going to be much different than how it affects someone who is 18 at the time it is coined, so usually someone who is right in the middle feels most ‘like’ that generation.
So, even if people are off by a year or two, it doesn’t really matter. The bigger challenge is that often marketers are talking about a marketing segment by a “media” age that can be purchased (like 18-34 or 35-54), and that will cut across two generations, but they don’t want to really think about that so they just sort of move the dates to accommodate the media buy.
They will say Millennials are 18-34, when really right now 18-34 would include Millennials and Gen V. In fact, many people seem to think that Millennials are still teenagers because they’ve been the emerging generation for so long, when actually the youngest of them are about 20.
PB: How is data the greatest equalizer in marketing?
JB: Data helps to try to “prove” things. The idea is that big data can help quantify what we speculate about and provide greater insight into what we are thinking, doing and how we are behaving.
I LOVE data. And I love that we now have more access to more data than ever. It allows retailers to see how consumers shop, and how price and value works versus brand.
One of the most exciting things about data for marketers and consumers is that advertising is going to start feeling less and less like advertising. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated analytics and predictive modeling, both big and small brands can tap information that will allow them to connect consumers to products and services that are truly relevant and interesting to them.
That said, data isn’t a silver bullet, and can’t and shouldn’t be seen as one. Numbers only tell you part of the story and you need to interpret them carefully. It’s just as important to talk to your consumer to understand the why behind the numbers and any subtleties that the numbers might not reveal.
PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
JB: I’m hoping that attendees will better understand the differences between the generations – as marketers, employers, parents, siblings – so that they can better relate to them, market to them and listen to them.
In addition, I’ll be talking about the macro trends that will be affecting these generations for the next several years as well as some fun trends that are happening now.
Overall, I want the audience to feel like they are better versed in who their next consumers are and who they will be.
Want to hear more from Jane? Join us at the Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in data science and analytics. Stay connected at #MADSCONF.