THE AGE FACTOR: There is more generational marketing now than ever before, with a strong realization that an individual’s place in a generation influences what he buys and how he sees things. But targeting the right age groups with the right message isn’t always as easy as it might seem. Still, being up on the latest research where generational differences (and likenesses) are concerned can help you reach and successfully influence the right buyers for your fashion jewelry and accessories. It can also make a major difference in your own buying decisions.
In the latest Harris Interactive poll, some 4,000 adults described the Baby Boomer generation (aged 44-63) as having the most positive effect on society, even as they felt this generation was self-absorbed and materialistic. Generation X (Aged 32-43) was seen as the most innovative. The Millennials (aged 13-31) were considered the most self-indulgent, even by six out of ten members of the group itself.
(An interesting side has to do with group titles. For example, the Millennials like to be called the Internet Generation, while Generation X prefers the name Generation Tech. The Silent Generation (aged 64-84) went for the title the Responsible Generation. The Baby Boomers were happy with their standing moniker.)
# # #
MARKETING MISHAPS: Many marketing and consumer executives feel that brands are not speaking successfully to the various age groups. They point to some major bloopers, like the TV commercials for the sporty Honda Element, meant to attract consumers in their 20s. The ads appealed, instead, to a much older group, with people 45 and older ending up buying the supposedly “hot” SUV.
Some very successful generational appeals, according to marketing pro Tom Julian, include ads for technology and entertainment aimed at the Millennials, and promotion of brands that express an “attitude,” such as Boomer-targeted travel and financial services.
The fashion industry has long marketed to age-specific groups, especially young people. A few major merchandisers, like Brooks Brothers, have actually been successful at cross-generational appeals. One way they do that is by recognizing that as group members grow up, they tend to keep the symbols and images of their youth with them, and this, marketing experts think, gives them a particular sense of style. Appealing to that sense of style can be a business booster. As generation expert Neil Howe says such imagery can be very relevant when applied to generation-aimed marketing.
But while their youth-impressed sights and sounds are important, another very critical consideration in dealing with age groups has to do with their “defining values.” Are they in change right now? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes” according to marketing mavens.
For example, the American Dream used to be defined by prosperity. And while there are still plenty who still express this materialistic viewpoint, four in ten Americans say they are turning toward a spiritual definition. This is especially true for the Baby Boomers.
In the 18-to-29 age group, a strong global perspective is not only emerging, but picking up steam. Pollsters call this group the First Globals, and say that more than half of them have passports, and one in four expects to live in a foreign country at some point in their lives. This group also tends to refer to its members as citizens of the world, a political position that could be negative or positive, depending on how you look at it.
Why should that matter to the Fashion Industry? Well, to start with, many younger Americans, comfortable with a global identity, don’t particularly care where a product was made. It’s from China? That’s just fine… Members of the Silent Generation, on the other hand, are far more conscious of national interests. Think of these differences when selling to the different aged groups!
AMAZING GRACE: Estimates are that 86 million now measure the American Dream in terms of spiritual fulfillment. Consequently, they are not that susceptible to traditional advertising.
No small number of marketing experts call this “incredible.”
Of course, one in three adults still count the numbers in material terms when putting up the American Flag. So there is still plenty of room for blatant appeals to luxury wants and status determinants. Just watch out for the age, here!