Modern, truly effective (online) marketing always focuses on the respective target group: this must-have has already arrived at numerous companies. However, only very few precisely address the individual age groups of their target customers and generation-specific expectations.

It is not at all uncommon for goods or services to be of interest to several generations - X, Y, Z, Alpha, Baby Boomers - at the same time. Those companies that fully take into account the different requirements of the generations that (probably) buy their products in differentiated marketing according to age groups can provide their (potential) customers with very special added values that match their respective needs extremely precisely and thus (currently still) secure a clear unique position for themselves in most industries.

The fact that this is highly desirable on several levels (strong persuasion potential, expansion of expert status, more trust, "safe" repeat purchases, favoring the emergence of genuine brand advocates, etc.) does not need to be elaborated on here.

But how should one address the age groups, where are the specific target group channels or target group touchpoints and what do they have to do to reach the generations there? We'll clarify all that in this article.

Babyboomer, X, Millennials, Z und Alpha -

What are the generations and how do they differ?

Before you can begin to approach your marketing by age group, you should correctly classify the individual generations. This will give you the chance to determine precisely, or match with your existing customer data, which age groups and their respective prerequisites you should target with your marketing.

Baby boomer

  • Born between 1946 and 1964
  • Grew up without modern technologies
  • Influenced by the post-war period and the economic miracle

Generation X

  • Born between 1965 and 1980
  • Grew up in an affluent society
  • Early contact with computers and television
  • Strong advertising influence, critical consumer behavior
  • Often critical, individualistic attitude to life

Gen Y - Millennials

  • Born between 1980 and 1996
  • Grew up with modern technologies, such as computer games, Internet and cell phones
  • Independent, self-determined and critical - early encouragement to express opinions
  • Optimistic, but sometimes disoriented

Generation Z

  • Born between 1996 and 2010
  • Constantly encouraged and affirmed to self-development
  • Grew up with modern technologies and social networks
  • Complete digital natives
  • Accustomed to optimal information flow and fast communication
  • Strong sense of sustainability and conscious action (on the net) due to climate change, data scandals, hacks and other typical generational issues

Generation Alpha

  • Born between 2010 and 2025
  • Grown up in a strongly and increasingly digitized world
  • Completely digitally networked and familiar with state-of-the-art technologies such as voice control or AI
  • Tolerance, equality, social justice and sustainability also play an important role in the digital space
  • Fast-paced digital-centric everyday life
  • Enthusiasm for innovations
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Different basic requirements of Generation X Y Z and baby boomers

Each of the generations brings its own prerequisites or media affinities and preferred touchpoints. Read on to find out what needs to be considered in this regard at the very grassroots level.

Digital natives are basically people who have been in contact with modern information technologies or digital channels since childhood and have practically grown up with them. Parts of Gen Y belong to this group - but in particular it consists of people from Generation Z and Generation Alpha.

Today, the largest marketing target group of digital natives unquestionably consists of Generation Z individuals. They have not only grown up with modern technologies and digital media, but also in times of a strongly increasing digital transformation and social media channels that have emerged in the meantime.

As the first generation, they were already involved in continuous digital exchange during their childhood. People in this age group are used to fast communication and prompt online knowledge. They expect content that takes these requirements into account. If this is the case, they are more receptive to (new) offers than any other generation and are therefore often particularly important for marketers.

Baby boomers spent most of their childhood and youth without modern technologies. They didn't learn how to use the Internet, smartphones, social media and the like from an early age, but that doesn't mean they don't take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital world.

Within this generation, social media user numbers were still quite low at the beginning of Web 2.0. In recent years, however, more and more boomers have acquired a taste for it. Today, they form an important category for marketing by age group with a lot of potential, especially in the social media sector.

Baby boomers: The traditional touchpoints of baby boomers are severely limited. Classic advertising channels, i.e., print, radio, television, and outdoor advertising, are in the foreground. Today, however, this generation is also increasingly using the Internet and can be reached via Google and Facebook in particular.

Generation X: Many of Generation X had contact with computers and video games in their youth. In general, this age group is quite broadly engaged with digital media and prefers high-quality, value-added content. This generation grew up in an affluent society with a lot of advertising, and as a result is now showing clear signs of advertising blindness. Typical touchpoints are websites, blogs and also social media - especially Facebook and YouTube. Generation X is generally very critical.

Generation Y: Generation Y is tech-savvy and uses modern media and channels, such as smartphones and social media, both in their free time and for work or business. This age group is also highly mobile and focuses on flexibility. Company websites and high-interaction social media are important touchpoints.

Generation Z: Generation Z has grown up with YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Co. and is generally very online-savvy. Having grown up in the midst of the digital transformation, these individuals are considered to have a more advanced approach to modern media than previous generations. For this age group, the boundary between the real and virtual worlds is becoming increasingly blurred. Their most important touchpoints are in every conceivable digital channel. Since this generation is very adept at filtering out relevant added values and acts in an absolutely self-determined manner (online), marketing forms that directly involve them and challenge them are particularly successful with them.

Generation Alpha: In just a few years, a large part of the world's population will consist of people from Generation Alpha. They experience the rapidly advancing digital and technological change as a matter of course. Social networks, an increasingly interactive web, as well as artificial intelligence, speech recognition, individually tailored offers and other technologies that are still largely regarded as very advanced possibilities are normal for them. They therefore also expect them for certain touchpoints.

According to a study by the IFCom institute in Hamburg, social networks are used particularly heavily by today's 14- to 29-year-olds, i.e. in Generations Y and Z. The use of social networks is particularly high among the younger generations. From the age of 40, i.e., among people who still just belong to Generation X and older, the curve drops significantly. Nevertheless, there is also a general increase in the number of social media users among Generation X and baby boomers.

Digital natives use social media more strongly influenced by hedonistic-egoistic values. Natives want fun, action and self-realization, but are also critical, value sustainability and are concerned about the future.

Baby boomers, on the other hand, tend to uphold conservative-traditional views. Society-related values, such as justice, tolerance and also protection of the environment, are the top priorities here when it comes to using the social web - coupled with a pronounced need for security and status. Baby boomers continue to use the social web primarily for a targeted search for information.

More and more baby boomers are researching online and using smartphones and social media. Modern technologies are now an integral part of everyday life for many people in this age group. For example, more than 60 percent of the baby boom generation now use Facebook regularly. In the digital world, corresponding people primarily expect facts that really help them solve a problem or meet a need.

The same applies to Generation X. They are even particularly critical of advertising on the web. The central reason for this is the very high volume of advertising that this age group has grown up with. In the affluent society that set in from the 1960s, companies wanted and were able to sell by almost any means. These individuals are generally looking for less entertainment and more genuinely helpful content that allows them to learn something new.

In Gen Y, there are the first digital natives. The channel and information overload triggered by the rapid increase in digital possibilities, combined with the traditional values that were often still widespread in their childhood or youth, has meant that this age group is now somewhat disoriented in the digital world. They are sometimes familiar with both sides - digital and analog - and find it difficult to choose one over the other. As a result, people of this generation are constantly on the lookout for an overarching meaning. They want content that corresponds to their values and are particularly persuaded by it. Generation Y wants more transparency, authenticity and personal interaction. Generation Z has grown up in an increasingly digitalized everyday life. They came into contact with far-reaching problems in their youth, such as climate change, data scandals, etc.. As a result, people in this group move online in a correspondingly conscious manner, while specifically exploiting the full potential of the digital world.

The latter behavior in particular is even more pronounced among Generation Alpha. For them, digitality in all its facets is a matter of course. People in this age group increasingly expect new technologies, such as AI in a wide variety of forms, and corresponding content.

Basically, very similar arguments speak in favor of marketing by age groups, as they also support the relevance of more general target group marketing.

An important additional advantage is that you can probably expand your target group marketing significantly when you consider age groups and profit considerably from it. You may notice one or more generations, or marketing needs and options specifically associated with them, that you would not have considered before. At best, you can thus give your marketing a clear performance - not to mention reach - push.

Further, you differentiate your marketing with precise consideration of Generation X, Y, Z, Alpha and Baby Boomers. The more granular your approach, the greater the potential to reach your target customers at all key touchpoints and at every point of the customer journey.

The baby boomer generation and Generation X are actually similarly accessible today. Websites, blogs and online stores that are easy to find via Google or corresponding content are particularly popular with these groups. In contrast to Generation Y and Z, baby boomers in particular are less critical of social networks. Here, too, they want to be able to access helpful information quickly. Consequently, as a marketer, you should offer informative, detailed and factual content there as much as possible.

In addition to leisure social media - especially Facebook - business networks are playing an increasingly important role for Generation X. LinkedIn and Xing are the most popular marketing networks. LinkedIn or Xing are often a good choice for marketing aimed at academics, experts in their field, managers, etc. For this generation in particular, it is important not simply to provide information, but also to check it carefully beforehand. Generation X is extremely critical and likes to question things.

For Generation Y, short, visually impressive content that also has a meaningful story goes down particularly well. This age group finds content from influencers to be real, personal, and interesting. YouTube (75 percent of active Y users) and Facebook (82 percent of active Y users) are particularly suitable for playing out such content. In addition, people in this age group like to interact on a personal level, which means they are best persuaded by direct addresses geared to their individual needs.

Generation Z is very active on Instagram (68 percent), Snapchat (40 percent) and YouTube (89 percent). Influencers have a high reputation here and their videos are real perennial favorites in the central channels of this age group. They reach Generation Z very well with authentic, quick-to-record, entertaining, visually powerful and meaningful content. Cumbersome forms of communication, on the other hand, are frowned upon. Also important to know: This generation is enthusiastic about innovations and trends, they want to interact, and a personal exchange at eye level is important to them.


How do you reach Generation Alpha today?

Although not all members of Generation Alpha have yet seen the light of day and everyone else is still a child, it is already worthwhile to prepare for them in marketing. Soon the first of them will become potential paying customers.

For this age group, digital media and especially social media are normal parts of everyday life. The already born part of Generation Alpha is best reached via Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat or TikTok.

Particularly important for Generation Alpha marketers: keep an eye on new social networks, because it is very likely that Generation Alpha will literally soak up the innovations to be expected with these media. New trends excite individuals in this age group. You should identify early on how to use them to your marketing advantage, keeping messages clear and focusing on simple but detailed communication. Generation Alpha has no desire to spend a long time on complex content. Also, be transparent and offer content that really helps recipients get ahead on an issue.


How and why should marketers bother to reach the different age groups via the appropriate channels and serve their prerequisites?

Taking the different age groups of your own target customers into account in marketing undoubtedly means a considerable amount of extra work. However, this is worthwhile, as such an approach ideally leads to a significantly increased reach and a more differentiated customer acquisition and retention. Marketing thus becomes even more holistic.

In highly competitive markets, this can be essential for survival. But even in a niche or in an industry in which marketing is still treated rather stepmotherly, you can thus perhaps massively expand your unique position and act more future-proof.

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