Adapt To How Generations Interact

This edition (September 1, 2014) features the first installment of what is planned as an annual special report focused on generational marketing strategies and development impacting the housewares industry.

With all the recent focus on Millennials (HomeWorld Business was on the forefront of examining this generation’s influence in housewares marketing), it is important to understand that serving the needs of one generational group does not necessarily dictate an effective marketing strategy.

Intersecting Influences

With the help of insights culled from research by generational marketing specialist and marketing consultant AIMsights and home furnishings retailer Ikea, the report that starts on page 10 reveals how today’s path to purchase in housewares is carved often by a cross-generational intersection of influences.

One can’t understand how Millennials think and buy, for instance, without understanding the persistent guidance of their Baby Boomer parents. It also goes the other way, with the emergent generation entering their formative household years providing some youthful food for thought to their elders.

When Millennials started to reach the marketplace in full force a few years ago, some pooh-poohed the group as an immediate marketing priority compared to the more income- and household-established Boomers. Others, though, embraced the opportunity to stake an early claim to the potential of the Millennials’ vast, if as of yet unfulfilled, buying scope.

It makes sense that consumer goods companies would crave Millennials or Boomers, which at 86 million and 80 million strong, respectively, account for the most populous markets.

Target Markets

With all the attention on these two groups, about 41 million would-be shoppers in so-called Generation X— the 35- to 49-year-olds nestled between Millennials and Boomers— often seem to have been ignored in marketing development. But they are, for the most part, self-reliant, pragmatic and flexible as they hit their income-earning stride. In other words: Good customers. Don’t forget this forgotten generation.

While emphasizing a particular target group brings important clarity and differentiation to a marketing plan, it can be advantageous not to view each generation in a tunnel when cultivating product strategy. A plan that accounts for the intermingled psychographics of all groups— from Millennials to Generation X to Baby Boomers— can enhance the precision of hitting whoever might matter most. It also can extend the range of a program to a wider, cross-generational consumer audience.

Inspired Success

One-size-fits-all product development and marketing doesn’t inspire today’s consumers. Yet, it is often unfeasible to customize distinct assortments and marketing campaigns for every group. Keeping a close eye on all generations and how they interact, however, can help direct cost-effective strategies that span multiple groups.

No one has to be left out.