Targeting by Generation Is Such a Boomer Thing to Do

It is believed that your generation and the events and cultural shifts you experienced growing up shape your behaviors and your spending habits. Therefore, marketers often group customers by generation and market to these groups differently. However, is targeting by generation always the prudent thing to do?

For certain industries, such as technology, most marketers would probably say yes. However, new research suggests that generations, particularly Millennials, are in many ways more similar to previous generations than people tend to believe. In a recent Nautilus article, organizational behavior researcher Alec Levenson commented on this idea:

 
[People] will look at the fairly predictable changes that happen over someone’s life—when you’re starting off, you’re not very attached and don’t have a spouse, a child, a mortgage—and they will often say, ‘Oh this generation is so much different.’ That often is not true, and it’s one of the lessons we keep on having to relearn.
 

While Levenson was referring to different generations in the workplace, his words apply to product categories, such as healthy foods and OTC brands, too. Simply put, members of all generations want to be healthy and happy. Marketers from these product categories, rather than selecting a target based on generation, could choose who to target based on the health issues that are currently top of mind for their potential customers. For example, obesity, diabetes and immune health are health-related issues that people from all generations are dealing with. Targeting by generation in these scenarios may, ironically, result in your missing the target.