Selling to All Generations
Selling to all generations is more complex than ever. The times we’re living in are for sure something else. The earlier generations that are living today have witnessed some of the most groundbreaking moments in history. Those aged around 70 years old definitely have a story to tell. They would have witnessed:
- Moon Landing
- Vietnam War
- JFK assignation
- Civil Rights Movement
- September 11
- 2020’s Global Pandemic
Ever said a slang term to someone way older or way younger? It’s like trying to get blood out of stone isn’t it? At least at the beginning it is. Cross-generational differences may not be that much of a hurdle for you if it’s already active in your workplace. It’s a hidden gem though, you get access to a range of perspectives.
Adapting may not be in your comfort zone, but cross-generational selling can become your competitive advantage. If you decide not to adapt, you may be placing a hidden hurdle in front of yourself. You will naturally come across the younger generations as we go further from the predecessors. Once you learn more about them and their buying behaviours and get swift with it, you can provide their needs before they ask for them.
The generations whose paths are crossing include:
Click your generation and take a blast to the past!
1. The Silent Generation
‘Why are they called the Silent Generation?’ is what popped into my head the first moment I heard that title. Well a lot of moment of silences were needed during the time they were raised. War (WWII) and economic depression ran rampant during those years. And the masses were expected to be seen and not heard. One could say they literally suffered in silence.
Being hardworking is one of the strengths of this generation. To get to the light at the end of the tunnel of adverse events, hard work kept hot plates on the table. Members of the Silent Generation feel that you had to earn your own way via working hard – It’s what got them through. Their sense of willpower is enhanced as they grown through what they gone through. So, they aren’t quick to leave a role or even circumstance once the going gets tough. Feeling sorry for yourself wouldn’t get you as much sympathy like it does these days. Especially since a majority of the masses treat social media like their personal diaries these days.
Approaching The Silent Generation
Respect and courtesy go a long way when communicating with a member of the Silent Generation. Respect is a must for them, but in the form of good manners. You’ll reap more benefits from being straightforward with them as they believe that they’ve seen & know every scam in the book. Instead of trying to build a relationship initially, sticking to business can work in your favour. If a working relationship is in your plan though, give it a bit of patience, let it naturally happen. Give them what they want initially so you have more leverage to guide it to a working relationship. I know you know that patience is a virtue.
Due to heavy uncertainty and anxiety regarding the economy’s state at the time, with war as well the members went through difficulty making sure they had necessities. So, their no strangers to trials and tribulations, or being tested. The Silent Generation had a different perspective on resources after this. It resulted in value meaning a lot more to them than it did before. Pain can be a great teacher at times.
Some of the Silent Generation are adapting to today’s tech and shopping styles and some are remaining traditional. Newspaper and television still are effective ways to communicate to members of this generations. This generation had to adapt to all this shiny new tech more than generations like X and Millennials who were educated and born alongside it. So, having tutorials queued up and ready will work in your favour. Video ones are better as you can send them around and post them online. Or even show them to your consumer on a device like an iPad in person. It gives them a break from your voice as well so it doesn’t seem like you’re talking too much.
Also, this generation tends to keep products for all if not the majority of the lifespan. So, including long-term benefits of what you’re selling will have your sale stats on the rise. It gives off the vibe that the purchase will last a while. But you can have them in an astonished state after that once they see how compelling your product line is. Making want to double back for more.
How do they consume media?
Over time, the amount of British citizens aged 75 and over using the internet has nearly doubled in seven years. So now they’re more susceptible to online content and adverts targeted to them with the help of cookies. So now in addition to TV and newspapers, online content has joined the mix.
2. Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers’ purchasing process is a bit more complex than the Silent Generation. They’re similar to its generation’s predecessors in the sense that they follow procedures and obey rules. Brand loyalty is one of the characteristics this generation has.
Having a good reputation works in your favour when dealing with this generation, it gives your audience a reason to remain loyal.
Baby boomers were once strangers to technology, but are now comfy with it. Seventy-five per cent of the 1,000 people aged 55 or over surveyed by Campaignlive.co.uk agreed that tech makes their lives easier. This generation’s more selective with what they use the internet for and how they use it. Baby boomers have various media consumption habits so spreading your brand awareness broad and wide, digital and analogue will work to your benefit.
Approaching Baby Boomers
Baby boomers are similar yet different to the Silent Generation. Like their predecessors, they’re accustomed to obeying rules and following procedures. As well as not being a stranger to brand loyalty. They’re open to opportunities on the other hand though. Above all else, they want convenience.
Baby boomers appreciate bargains but they also have a high amount of spending power, so they don’t have to hunt for great bargains if they’re not feeling too. Unlike generations, Z and Y (AKA Millennials) were tracking down bargains is one of their frequent buying behaviours.
Communication is key. It seems like an obvious basic skill but doesn’t overlook it or the way you manoeuvre with it. 54% of Baby Boomers agree that they feel greater loyalty towards brands that effectively communicate with them and are showing how they are helping people during this time (the pandemic).
Relationships along with business outcomes are viewed as entangled by Baby Boomers. Making conversation that doesn’t seem sincere can really shift the dynamic. And not in a positive way either.
It makes you and your agenda seem inauthentic and sketchy. Let them have their input. Knowledge is power and can be like a Sat Nav, showing you where to go next so learn from your audience. Plus, you’ll know how to align it with the overall values and mission. Guard your reputation, as that and the quality level are recognised as a determining factor of the success of the sales pitch. Don’t think just smiling in their face with slick words will win them over – it won’t.
How do they consume media?
The largest consumers of traditional media are Baby Boomers. 9/10 of them own a Facebook account. The desire to keep in touch with friends and family led to them adapting to recent platforms.
3. Generation X
Generation X – The generation that resisted being defined, that’s what inspired the name. That concept’s inspiring. Like myself you’ve likely experienced people trying to put you in a box that’s way too small for you for starters. And one that you’ve evolved or plan to evolve past. Gen X is the middle child of the generations and sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten generation’. Other nicknames include the ‘MTV Generation”
The creation of the first personal computer was witnessed by this generation. So, they’ve got memories of the beginning of the never-ending technical journey that we’re on.
Approaching Generation X
Authenticity is key in your approach. Gen X members are realists, and can smell rubbish or a con a mile away. Doing more research prior to finalising a purchase is common part of the purchase process for this generation. You’ll win points by getting straight to the point.
Impulse purchasing for more serious products isn’t common as they like assurance of getting their money’s worth. Or the model of product that suits them the most out of all. Certainty is a relief for them. The Silent Generation can relate to them in this sense.
Are you the friend that gives the recommendations that those around you rely on? Well recommendations or info about products from respected individuals hold weight with Gen X.
If your product/service has a nostalgic element to it, highlight that to your customer of the ‘forgotten’ gen. Because a research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Science found that this generation spend more money when feeling nostalgic.* If you provide something interactive you’re only going to draw your audience into your vortex even further.
How do they consume media?
Magazines, newspapers, the radio and TV are still relevant to the ‘forgotten’ generation. They gift TV with a lot of their time (about 165 hours of screen time).
Millennials are a unique generation with a unique market. They make up 27% of the global population – AKA 2 billion people.
Workforces are being joined by Millennials as you read this. And, the Millennials that are already in the workforce are progressing along their career path. So, naturally financial abundance is on the horizon which means more cards are about to get tapped, applied for and swiped. This is after the hardships Millennials have faced in the timeline of their careers. You’re probably wondering ‘what hardships?’. Remember the 2008 economic crisis? It had a domino effect that effected this generation in more ways than one. Not to mention a large quantity of this generation graduated into this era. So, there’s an educated legion on a witch-hunt for jobs with debt to match.
Following the crisis, the job opportunities and the salaries of them were fewer. Thus, making it harder to climb up the corporate ladder. The 1st job affects the 2nd and so forth.
The credit of Millennials is one of the dominos also in the effect. Those who were anticipating and relying on the safety net of getting a mortgage for their dream house or financing their dream car were forced to shrink their dreams. After working so hard to achieve them. It took a mental and physical toll on many of them.
The uncertainty led to a lot of them pushing back getting married and having kids. Not to mention taking less risks like starting a business.
Then BOOM! Pandemic hits a dozen years later. The next of the 1-2 punch combo. So, after time goes by and this generation return back on their feet, they get caught off guard with another roadblock. This time physically as well as financially.
Some Millennials have been able to adapt and overcome this and reap the benefits but the majority have been wearing the scars from it.
Being relatable can work to your benefit. Millennials respond well to messages that align with their team’s or personal goals or agendas. Figure them out and watch the positive difference. Don’t think poor service will be tolerated either. It’s likely that they’ll know about alternatives to what you have to offer and won’t hesitate to bounce to the next dealer. As they should, they feel that they deserve respect. Beware of their digital tongues as well. Both Millennials and Gen Z have no problem airing out your dirty service laundry on social media for the whole planet to see.
Don’t get us wrong, they do have brand loyalty, just not on the levels of the Baby Boomers and the ‘Silents’. Brands that are reputable have more of a stronghold on them as they’ve earned and built it. Take Apple for example.
As a large amount of this generation’s working to wipe out their student debts and other loans, they do still appreciate a good bargain. At this point in their lives their budgeting instinct is still active with more insight compounding.
How do they consume media?
Millennials are no strangers to the TV screen, however they love TV apps like Netflix as it’s a cheaper option with a growing library of on-demand content. It’s typical for Millennials to have social media accounts, which nowadays you can’t really go on without seeing content from the media.
5. Generation Z AKA iGen
The more we look around the more we see the world evolve. Especially the tech. It makes generation Z a special bunch. When you think about it, generation Z are the last generation to see what life was like prior to everything becoming ‘smart’ and tech-based. The upcoming generation – generation Alpha will be accustomed to the tech world and the 5G infrastructure if that goes to plan.
The elders of generation Z are in early adulthood whilst the young’uns are approaching it. Gen Z might as well have tech in their DNA as they we’re raised on the internet instead of having to adapt to it like its generation’s predecessors. So, if you’re a parent with a gen z son or daughter, it’s likely that they manage all the tech in the house. Plus, you may not want to hear this but they probably outsmart you with it too.
Generation Z considers itself as the most open-to-change generation to date. The majority stand behind social movements, these include feminism and Black Lives Matter.
Approaching Generation Z
Generation Z has unique processes when it comes to making purchases, especially online ones. They’re wired to proficiently manoeuvre the internet so it’s naturally swift. Even social media has marketplaces so they don’t have to stray far from their usual surfing routine. Social media platforms have carefully placed market hurdles to make you stop, consider and evaluate.
You’ve probably come across them on Facebook and Instagram. 42% of this generation has said that social media has a direct impact on how they feel about themselves. Therefore, showing the imprint it has on their lives and a bigger impact on their shopping behaviours than other customer groups.
If your ad campaign makes your audience members feel like they can become a better version of themselves, you’re going to gain more traction than you realise. They’re likely to take a detour before adding something to their basket and checking out. YouTube is likely to be one of the places their headed to. A review from a Youtuber that they highly respect will hold weight in their decision-making process. After seeing someone they respect use the product, it’s likely they’ll feel the need to go see the product in store first. Or they may just checkout online. The point is that they’ll probably search for that extra bit of certainty before finalising the purchase.
We get everything so quickly these days. It’s resulted in us to want our purchases as soon as we checkout. A free delivery option, or free next day delivery offer will increase your audience satisfaction.
Trying to unlock a new level of reach? Content’s the smart key. Content is being consumed more now than ever before. Plus, Gen Z is consuming it more than the millennials are. So, content’s only on the rise and Generation Z is the UK’s BIGGEST consumers. The majority of UK millennials are spending 8.5 hours consuming content on their devices while Gen Z is spending 10.6 hours.
How do they consume media?
Thanks to streaming services and online media platforms, Generation Z get what they want when they want it. With TVs becoming ‘smart’ you get Netflix, YouTube and more apps pre-installed. Same with consoles like Playstation and Xbox. As Gen Z are top smartphone users, they consume content through social apps like Twitter, Pinterest and IG. It doesn’t end there though, new apps to consume media on are constantly being added to app stores such as the Google Play store and Apple’s app store.
Be like a chameleon! Adapt to your surroundings and those you cross paths with whilst remaining true to yourself and your mission. Chill with those you know from different generations, see how they react to the same things/events and see what the differences lie in their reactions.
Get a feel for the energy of the different generations. Formal and informal. Swift or slowed. Once you do this and stay consistent, it’ll be effortless. Whenever you manoeuvre effortlessly, you’ll naturally impress more and they’ll feel the authenticity.