Age Does Matter: Figuring Out Business Demographics for Your Company’s Growth

Happy family smiling for a picture
April 15, 2024 |
Article | 7 min
| Business Insights

A firm grasp of generational differences can help you pinpoint your target audience. It’s important to consider the product or service you’re selling and the age groups they’re meant for. Business demographics span the gamut, so brands need accurate marketing and advertising strategies in order to grow.

Will Gen X or Gen Z benefit more from this particular product? Are you looking to corner the baby boomer market, or are millennials more in your wheelhouse?

Let’s unpack everything you need to know about leveraging age demographics in a world full of drastic generational differences.

Age Brackets as Business Demographics

There are consistent characteristics between the four major age groups (as they currently stand) that can help sharpen your marketing strategy. So, to learn more about your audience, it’s wise to consider their age.

Let’s define the different generations:

  • Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964): Baby boomers are the second-largest generation in the U.S. but possess the most wealth. Despite not growing up with the internet, most of them are comfortable shopping and researching products online. They mainly use Facebook for social media, so marketers shouldn’t overlook this generation when creating digital marketing campaigns.
  • Gen X (born 1965–1980): Gen X makes up 19.6% of the U.S. population as of 2022. They have one of the highest levels of brand loyalty of any generation, with 60% sticking to brands they like. This generation is also fairly comfortable with digital channels such as email, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Millennials (born 1981–1996): Millennials are digital natives who consume and produce plenty of online content. They rely on influencers and are more likely to do research before purchasing your product. They also value advocacy, referrals, and online reviews.
  • Gen Z (born 1997–2012): Gen Z grew up on tech and prefers shopping online. They lean on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram for social networks and rarely watch traditional television, instead opting for digital content on their phones, tablets, and laptops. They also spend about 7.2 hours a day watching videos online, primarily on YouTube, TikTok, and Netflix.

Generational Marketing: Segmenting Customers per Generation

Leveraging business demographics is all about generational marketing. It can be a powerful tool for marketers to tailor their messaging and creativity to a specific generation’s values, needs, and wants.

It also can help marketers better understand the motivations behind why individuals purchase certain products or services. By understanding generational differences, marketers can craft more effective campaigns that resonate with their target audience.

Generational marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires careful segmentation and analysis of each generation to craft compelling messages. You might want to consider what different generations have already experienced and are currently going through.

You can also consider how different age brackets consume information. Baby boomers may be more likely to respond to traditional advertising methods such as print ads or direct mail. At the same time, millennials may prefer digital channels such as social media or influencer marketing.

Marketers may also want to look at generational trends in technology use, lifestyle preferences, and purchasing habits when creating campaigns.

3 generations of a family posing for a picture

Generational marketing can help brands create more meaningful connections with their audiences by providing them with content that resonates on an individual level.

By understanding the unique characteristics of each generation, marketers can create campaigns tailored specifically for that demographic, resulting in higher engagement and better return on investment (ROI).

Key Business Demographics to Understand

A business will never grow by launching marketing campaigns that hit all demographics. It’s simply impossible. Customers want personalized experiences.

That doesn’t mean you have to know them on a first-name basis; rather, it’s about showing that you’re in touch with their needs and preferences. For instance, language geared toward Gen Z might confuse their baby boomer parents.

Let’s get to know some general characteristics of these four generations so you can better market to each one.

Baby Boomers: The Retirement Generation

Baby boomers can be independent, highly competitive, and hardworking. They’re open to new technology and gadgets and demand quality in the goods and services they buy.

Traditional marketing, like television, radio, and print, is still effective. However, it’s also a good idea to consider:

  • Targeting Them Online: Roughly 33 million baby boomers sign into Facebook each month.
  • Utilizing Social Media: The idea that boomers aren’t on social media is a myth. They prefer to Facebook first, then YouTube. In fact, 91% of boomers have used Facebook in the last 90 days.
  • Leveraging Deals and Personalized Discounts: When you customize offers to suit their preferences, boomers will remain loyal to your brand.

Baby boomers are also open to new products to improve their quality of life. Just think about the massive technological curve they’ve lived through since the 1960s.

Older demographics like direct and clear communication that avoids age-focused content. In other words, they don’t want content that makes them feel “old.” Simple and valuable information about products will help them make purchase decisions.

Products and services should be of high quality and solve their problems without being too expensive. Remember, boomers are either retired or on the cusp of retirement. They have some money to spend, but many don’t have much coming in.

Older couple smiling together

Gen X: The Sandwich Generation

Generation X is known for its financial independence, liberal lifestyle choices, and decision-making power. They’re highly adaptable to change, as they grew up in an era of wars, technological innovations, and political and social revolutions. They also command a strong market presence. 

Gen X outspends other demographics regarding housing, dining out, entertainment, and clothing. They can be an important market for your small business. You may want to try:

  • Targeting Them on Their Smartphones: Gen X is tech-savvy and spends a significant amount of time on their phones. They use the internet to research businesses and entertainment and are active on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Gen X (along with millennials and Gen Z) will likely visit your site via their phone, so your website should be mobile-friendly.
  • Leveraging Traditional Means: Gen X is the only generation that checks their emails daily. They also value traditional forms of communication like television, radio, and newspapers. Brands can use these platforms to reach Gen X with authentic, personalized messaging.
  • Offering Loyalty Rewards Programs: A Marketing Charts study showed that 58% of Gen Xers said that great services or products make them loyal to a certain brand. These programs might include redemptions, vouchers, gifts, points, and personalized offers based on previous purchases.

Gen X makes comparatively less money than their parents, most likely due to college debt and heightened living costs. They may also be caring for their aging parents. They’re skeptical of flashy advertisements and are more focused on raising their families and getting their kids through college.

Millennials: The Internet Generation

Millennials are a generation born during a period of extreme technological advancement. They’re bold, adaptive, and willing to bring about social, political, and professional change. They also account for a massive portion of the consumer market.

Millennial smiles while holding phone

While they have less money than older demographics, they’re willing to spend it on valuable commodities from a sustainable business.

To effectively target millennials, you might:

Millennials were the first to leverage the fruits of the virtual world. Their parents also allowed them more freedom than previous generations. As a result, they’re more creative and open-minded. As adults, they are leading the way in many areas of society, politics, and work.

Zoomers: The Young Adult Generation

Gen Z—also known as the “Zoomers”—doesn’t know a world without the internet and is accustomed to the convenience of digital technology. They grew up with digital music, movies, and communication and have never experienced a transition from analog to digital.

Electronics were once luxuries for earlier generations. Now, they’re commonplace for these digital natives, who understand that anyone is just a tap or click away.

Gen Z accounts for more than 40% of consumers as of 2022. Companies should understand their needs, wants, and luxuries to create successful products and marketing strategies. Zoomers value inclusiveness and are open to giving feedback and suggestions to brands about their products. Brands can then leverage this feedback to tailor products and services to them.

  • Smartphones, Smartphones, Smartphones: Gen Z uses their phone for everything. Websites should be mobile-friendly, and their preferred social media apps are TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
  • The One-Second Rule: You have about 1.3 seconds to hold Zoomers’ attention before they scroll away. The most successful videos, blogs, and social media ads grab their attention immediately.
  • UGC and Influencer Marketing: Like millennials, Gen Z leans on UGC before making purchases. They also trust their favorite social media influencers more than traditional ad streams. Brands would be wise to consider partnering with someone on Instagram and YouTube to promote their products and services.

Gen Z can be highly conscious of their purchases and may want to know the full story behind the products they buy. They’re committed to transparency and hold brands accountable for their ingredients, manufacturing processes, and environmental impact. They often leave reviews online to inform other buyers.

Young group of people sharing a laugh

How to Utilize Data on Business Demographics

Diving into business demographics can provide you with a plethora of data about your target audiences. However, understanding how to use that data correctly is what has the ability to help you grow your company.

For example, consider increasing marketing expenditures geared toward your most enthusiastic audiences. You may then choose to fund those endeavors by moving money away from your least-interested audiences.

Here are three key ways companies can use demographic data to their advantage:

  • Group Customers: By using business demographics to segment consumers into groups, brands can understand them better and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. Aside from age, customers can also be grouped by gender and income.
  • Determine Next Steps for Growth: Will loyal customers be willing to travel to a new location? Is the market in a new region worth expanding into? Demographic data answers these questions while preventing businesses from making costly mistakes.
  • Customize Products: Business demographics data can ensure brands are pushing products and services that meet their audience’s needs. This may also mean changing existing products to achieve the desired outcome. No one wants to waste money on products that don’t sell.

Choosing How to Communicate to Each Audience

Marketers have realized different generations responded to multi-channel messaging in unique ways. As such, generational marketing strategies can effectively reach different age groups with tailored messaging on the proper channels. 

Social media influencer making a video

This approach allows for a more personalized experience, but understanding how to target each generation effectively is crucial to getting the best results.

  • Baby Boomers: They may prefer traditional channels, including print, television, and radio. Loyalty programs often drive in-store/in-person transactions, while social media can be an entry point for research. This generation usually responds best to digestible content and efficient customer service.
  • Gen X: Word of mouth, email, and loyalty programs are often big for Gen X. They like freebies, discounts, and rewards. In addition, they respond best to clear and honest messaging, simple purchasing paths, email marketing, and social media.
  • Millennials: Brands can let their already-satisfied customers convince millennial shoppers. Similarly, positive UGC, plus influencer and social media marketing, can gain their trust. Millennials often respond best to sustainable brands, honest reviews, and price-to-value ratios.
  • Gen Z: TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube ads and content should grab attention immediately. Gen Z may also favor mobile-friendly websites and influencer marketing. Zoomers tend to trust their favorite social media personalities more than brands. They also often like short video marketing and companies that stand behind environmental, social, and economic causes.

Consider a Reliable Financial Partner

Small businesses should always be prepared for economic uncertainty. Robust marketing strategies and best practices can help them maintain and boost profits regardless of industry challenges. It’s also wise to use business demographics—especially age—to craft effective marketing strategies.

Sourcing such data won’t come without significant investments. Thankfully, small business owners can rely on a trustworthy financial partner like First Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank to help navigate business decisions.

Get in touch with First Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank to speak with one of our HTLF bankers today.

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