Marketers to Benefit from Age-​Based Strategies

Who knew that members of the Greatest Generation shop more frequently than any other age group? But they spend less during each trip and less overall than their younger counterparts. These are just a couple of the intriguing details discussed in Nielsen’s latest Generations report.

According to the report, each generation can be linked to distinct shopping patterns and marketers can therefore target these groups with age-​specific campaigns. For example, Millennial and Generation X shoppers are more likely to be frequent shoppers at superstores and mass merchants. On the other hand, Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation shoppers prefer grocery stores and drug stores.

In a sample of frequently purchased consumer packaged goods, the amount spent on specific products also varied by age group. Here’s who spent the most annually on average per selected category:

  • Baby food (Millennials): $170
  • Cereal (Generation X): $92
  • Pet food (Baby Boomers): $211
  • Vitamins (Greatest Generation): $107

This information should come as no surprise to any industry watcher who considers life stages to be generally associated with specific age groups. But writing for Nielsen, Todd Hale outlines how to use this data to develop marketing strategies, even online techniques.

Greatest Generation: Use promotions that emphasize value and small packaging. Heaviest Internet use for this group includes e‑mail and message boards.

Boomers: This group spends heavily and appreciates ‘cash-​back saving programs.’  Social media such as Twitter may prove lucrative when selling to this group.

Generation X: Offer time-​saving conveniences for busy families. Promote meal planning and deals or child-​care centers in stores to garner loyalty. At least 80% of this group uses social media.

Millennials: Appeal to the multiple senses of this plugged-​in generation. Use music and visual appeal to promote in-​store deals and prompt these shoppers to buy now – a concept in line with their need for instant gratification. Use online video to interest Millennials.

Relying solely on age-​based demographics to predict behavior may be somewhat out of fashion in the current business climate, but this study is an important reminder that this approach can work well both in designing marketing campaigns and selling products.

[Source: Hale, Todd. “Mining the U.S. Generation Gaps.” Consumer & Shopper Insights. Nielsen. 4 Mar. 2010. Web. 31 Mar. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.