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Business must go cross-generation in marketing in 2022

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As brands start finalising their marketing and sales strategy for the new year, it’s important that they include a younger demographic that they may have missed previously. This is not to mean they should ignore older audiences; rather, they should adopt a multigenerational marketing approach.

With Gen Z’s relatively new purchasing power, brands should avoid reusing traditional marketing ideas and tactics. Instead, marketers should recognise the distinct nature of each audience and the fact that what works with one group may not resonate with another.

While businesses may see the value of engaging with the younger generation’s increased purchasing power, they should avoid focusing their marketing only to this demographic, as older generations such as Generation X and Baby Boomers continue to hold considerable purchasing power.

Brands that understand the importance of each generation as a potential customer, and that market to their unique needs, will generate stronger brand equity over time. 

In this article, we speak to industry experts and ask them what brands should consider when marketing across generations.

1. Data is the key to inclusivity 

Generational inclusivity needs to be a marketing priority for all brands in 2022. We know that the pandemic shifted consumer behaviour in many ways but brands need to view this as a great opportunity. The best way to strategically leverage that opportunity is to take the guesswork out of digital marketing. 

“The right data holds the key to better understanding preferences, trends, demographic shifts and more,” says Reagan Kok, CEO at Hoorah Digital. “ Data allows for the personalisation of marketing messages to meet not just the needs of a generational grouping, but of the individual. Rather than speculating about what a consumer needs or wants, or relying on the creative director’s ‘intuition’, data provides measurable insights into actual customer behaviour and preferences”

A relevant and sophisticated data capability is central to a brand’s success in the marketing space. “It is however critical that data is responsibly collected and applied with integrity and the highest regard for data privacy regulations,” says Kok.

2. Tailor your communication 

Good old-fashioned marketing means that there is no ‘1 size fits all’ approach and you must tailor not only your product offering but also your communication style. 

“Successful marketing is about gathering as much information as possible about your customers in order to segment them into relevant target groups based on variables such as age, generation, life stage and purchasing power,” explains Ross Sibbald, Commercial Director at Striata South Africa. 

“Email has already been widely recognised and acknowledged as a channel, and email marketing continues to be the most successful medium for communicating a product offering targeted to each customer category, from Millennials to Gen X and Baby Boomers,” notes Sibbald. 

3. Remember the three fundamentals of marketing 

The same characteristics that are being used to define Gen Z were used to describe Gen Y, and before them, it was Gen X, and so on, as we progress through the ages of marketing. 

“Defining a target audience by the class of generation that they fit into is to say that everyone in that generation thinks, acts and enjoys all of the same things, all of the time and if that’s true for Gen Z then it must be true for every other generation as well. It’s mass marketing and it’s been around for about as long as marketing has existed,” says Pieter Geyser, Head of Digital and Marketing at Irvine Partners. 


“While there is nothing wrong with mass marketing, because it certainly works for some brands, a clearly defined target audience requires greater segmentation than a person’s year of birth. A marketing strategy needs to have three fundamentals: Clear target audience, distinctive brand positioning and achievable strategic objectives,” explains Geyser. 

4. Customer expectations 

While marketers are optimistic about the future, according to a recent Salesforce State of Marketing survey, 66% of South African marketers believe that challenges are afoot. This is primarily due to the constantly shifting customer expectation. 

To succeed, marketers must adapt their strategies to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s customers. This means realising that no two customers are the same. This is especially vital when it comes to cross-generational marketing, and executing it correctly will only ensure success.

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