Generation theory for business.

Every product has its target audience, so it's no secret that a 20-year-old student will buy a different set of things than a 65-year-old. But let's not focus on that right now.

When establishing communication with consumers, it's essential to consider how they search for a product, where they make purchases, and what they expect from it. Let's turn to generational theory, which helps understand the priorities and values of each generation.

According to this theory, every twenty years, people with new perspectives on reality are born, differing significantly from their predecessors. Currently, there are four main demographic generations with unique buying preferences:

  • • Baby Boomers (1943-1960)
  • • Generation X (1961-1981)
  • • Millennials / Generation Y (1982-2004)
  • • Generation Z / Digital Natives (2005-present)

It's important to understand that events and the time they grew up influence the views and motivations of people from each generation. For example, in Russia, events like the Cold War with Western countries, the war in Afghanistan, Perestroika, the fall of the Berlin Wall, access to drugs, and the advent of personal computers significantly influenced Generation X. Scientists claim that values are formed before the age of 10-12. Therefore, it's worth considering that at the generational cusp, people are born who combine the values of both, known as echo generations. But more on that later. In Russia, the percentage distribution of generations looks like this: - Baby Boomers - 25% - Generation X - 28.7% - Generation Y - 20.5% - Generation Z - 16.3%.

Let's briefly delve into the buying habits of each generation:

  • 1) Baby Boomers:
This generation earned its name due to a significant and sustained increase in birth rates after the end of World War II. They grew up during the triumphant post-war period, the Soviet thaw, and the space race. They believed and still believe in their country as a "superpower." They are patriots and optimistic individuals with a team spirit and faith in the certainty of the future. For Baby Boomers, live communication with people is crucial, so most of them visit markets or stores. However, don't underestimate them. They adapt to the modern world; about 11% of internet users in this age group make online purchases. People of this generation don't pay much attention to packaging; what matters is that the purchased product meets their needs. Loyalty is a key characteristic; if they like a brand or product, they will be willing to wake up at 7 a.m. and travel to the other end of the city for it. They happily share information about their favorite purchases and interesting finds with friends and family. Experiments are not very easy for this generation, so once they become your customer, they are likely to remain so for life. Another important feature to note is the "cult of youth" among Baby Boomers. For them, the "spring of life" is not only the most colorful and happy period of life but also a time of development when the future is built. Therefore, people of this generation want to feel young at heart and soul.

Channels to reach this audience: The most effective communication channels for Baby Boomers are television, newspapers, and magazines. However, don't exclude them from online life altogether: - 30% of Baby Boomers use social networks - 23% of "Odnoklassniki" users are aged 56-65 - The user base of "Moy Mir" consists mainly of Baby Boomers - Baby Boomers are starting to explore Instagram, surprisingly one of the fastest-growing user groups.

How to communicate with this generation: Despite having the option to order online, 67% of Baby Boomers will still go to an offline store. In-person contact with salespeople will be crucial for them. If they encounter rudeness or insufficient attention, more than half of Baby Boomer buyers will not return to that store, even if it's the closest to their home. Sellers and consultants are advised to pay a little more attention to Baby Boomers; unlike other generations, they won't avoid communication and will gladly accept assistance. Also, when communicating with representatives of this generation, it's not necessary to focus on their age. As mentioned earlier, they want to feel perpetually young. And don't be disappointed if a Baby Boomer doesn't buy immediately; spontaneous purchases are not their style. Usually, people of this generation like to take a pause to assess, listen to recommendations, find additional information, and only then make a purchase. And of course, tools like promo coupons and discounts can play a role in a quick purchase; the older generation knows how to count money.

  • 2) Generation X:
Generation X is typically referred to as those born during a period of declining birth rates. They are also known as the independent generation. While their parents were focused on work, they learned to do their homework, warm up, and prepare food on their own, as well as plan their leisure activities. This generation grew up during the Cold War, perestroika, the transition to a market economy, the emergence of drugs, and the war in Afghanistan. All of these factors influenced their development, resulting in qualities such as readiness for change and significant individualism. Unlike their parents, Generation X is less optimistic about a happy future; they are concerned about the present. For Generation X, just like for Baby Boomers, live communication is essential, but they actively embrace networks and online shopping. Since convenience stores and supermarkets emerged during adulthood, they prefer places where they can buy everything at once, saving time. In terms of shopping, Generation X differs from Baby Boomers; they are open to trying new things, appreciate the prestige of items, and are ready for spontaneous purchases. Their decision-making process for purchases is relatively fast, but this doesn't prevent them from paying attention to details. They care about what they are buying, so they carefully examine the composition. What truly attracts them, however, is the opportunity to choose. Generation X grew up when everyone dressed the same, so now they strive to stand out and be unique.

Channels to reach this audience: Generation X grew up without the internet, smartphones, and computers. However, despite this, they have mastered modern technologies and social networks well and actively use them: - 88% of Generation X are active internet users - 58% of them actively visit YouTube, mainly to find useful information - About 45% of Odnoklassniki users are aged 40-60 - Instagram has 15% of users.**

How to communicate with this generation: Generation X's attitude towards brands is not as loyal as Baby Boomers, so it's important to constantly stay visible to the customer and remind them of your presence: banners, context, video, leveraging opinions, and email newsletters. The least effective tools for attracting buyers from Generation X are contests, like-time promotions, and live broadcasts—these tools are not for this generation. It's also worth paying attention to a special state - nostalgia. Many brands use this tactic in advertising to boost sales. For example, in 2018, Sony released the Sony Classic console, and Adidas, for the FIFA World Cup, launched the adidas Originals Samba LYZHNIKI sneaker model, based on the silhouette of 1980, with the same style reflected in the ad.

  • 3) Generation Y:
They are also called the Millennial generation, the "next" generation, the "networked" generation, millennials, and echo boomers. They are often simply called Millennials because they came of age in the new millennium. This is the first generation deeply involved in social media, although they still experienced times before the internet became widespread. Their development was also influenced by events such as the collapse of the USSR, terrorist attacks, and military conflicts. Therefore, they don't have strong beliefs in long-term prospects. Millennials are egocentric, which is why they are sometimes called the "Me" generation. Each millennial considers themselves special, despite the fact that all members of Generation Y think the same way. They are heavily dependent on likes and gadgets, leading to a significant lack of face-to-face communication. Since Generation Y is highly influenced by social networks, they may choose a place to eat or a hairdresser based on photos on Instagram and posts on Facebook. In general, many purchases are made online while simultaneously chatting with friends, listening to music, and rushing about their business. Millennials' attitude towards brands differs from previous generations; they don't take the brand's history into account but rely on the experience of those who have already used the product under consideration. Nevertheless, they have their "favorites": Nike, Adidas, Samsung, Apple, and others. An important feature of Generation Y is the fear of missing out. A large part of this generation is susceptible to it. This feature is easy for businesses to use to achieve their goals: Facebook, Instagram, email marketing, and others.

Channels to reach this audience: Generation Y grew up with the development of computers and mobile devices. They don't perceive traditional media. Mostly, millennials get information from smartphones, which are always with them. - 53% of all online purchases are made by millennials - 73% of Generation Y members access online stores using a mobile device - Millennials make up the most active group of VKontakte users - Facebook's core also consists of millennials.**

How to communicate with this generation: Generation Y does not trust classic advertising; during their upbringing, there were too many scammers and low-quality products. Millennials respond best to reviews from acquaintances, friends, or just real consumers. Therefore, it's important to ensure that your online reviews and impressions of the product do not carry a negative tone. Engage the audience in the development and promotion of the product or service: create activities where the user can tell friends about their purchase. For example, a contest with a hashtag of your product and a review after use. The main channel for promotion is Instagram.

  • 4) Generation Z:
Also known as the iGeneration, these are the children born with smartphones in hand; they are almost always connected. They grew up during the active development of the internet, smartphones, mass consumption products, and the global economic crisis. They process information at high speeds, but holding the attention of a Generation Z representative is challenging—possible only for something unique and impressive. Generation Z is proactive; they are concerned about global issues, with 76% expressing worry about them. However, the iGeneration is not concerned about political news; they are not interested in the topic and do not watch news broadcasts. They obtain all their information through bloggers, memes, etc. Although many of Generation Z have not yet reached adulthood, 40% of all purchases are already made by them. Moreover, they influence the spending of their families and older generations. For Generation Z, money means opportunities, the realization of ideas, and the key to freedom. However, rich people do not become authorities for them or examples to follow. The coolest and most influential person is the one with millions of followers on social media. That's what any Generation Z representative desires. As it's essential for this generation to be stylish, cool, and modern, they value products and services not for the brand or quality but for the opportunities they open up for the consumer. "Zs" do not rely on the popularity of a brand name because there are companies offering modern products that are on trend.

Channels to reach this audience: Generation Z grew up and is growing up in a world where subscriptions, followers, likes, and views have always existed. However, not all social networks are loved by this generation; they prefer those where visual content is published: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

How to communicate with this generation: It's essential to understand that Generation Z buys a product in three cases: if their friends like it, if they often see ads for this product, and if it is made specifically for them. Therefore, do not forget about favorite bloggers—micro-influencers with 1,000 to 100,000 followers whom they trust. They can influence purchasing decisions. Also, when launching advertising, make your texts shorter, and your graphic elements brighter and more interesting since you have only 8 seconds to attract the iGeneration; that's their average attention span. And, of course, advertising campaigns emphasize eco-friendliness, a healthy lifestyle, and improving the surrounding nature. This is a brief overview of the characteristics of generations and approaches to them. From this, you can draw conclusions about your target audience and use it as a foundation for further consumer research. Do not be afraid to experiment and use new tools for promotion and advertising. Technologies are constantly evolving, and the tastes, especially of the younger generation, are changing rapidly.