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Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A to Z of Marketing: G is for Generational Marketing Theory

Wouldn't it be cool if you could anticipate the type of photograph that will resonate with your audience?

How great would it be if you could use more powerful or more persuasive examples or stories with a given audience group?

What if you had some insight, in advance, about how a particular audience members will behave as consumers? Who might respond most favorably to a discount? By contrast, who might be more jazzed about a beefed-up warranty?

Looking at this proverbial marketer's wish list, all of these things are possible with generational marketing theory. Cool, huh!

Generational marketing theory, also known as cohort group theory, holds that humans are affected by certain life-shaping events that have a strong impact upon our beliefs, tastes and consumer tendencies. As we share these events at various times of our lives, especially during our adolescent or formative years, it causes us to become more alike with respect to our cohorts or generational peers. Without getting too deep into the theory, it also says that we are affected in similar fashion by government and media practices. Other societal factors play a role in this too: medicine, technology and the economy.

Now, what are some of these cohort groups? You'll recognize several--
Generation X
Leading-Edge Baby Boomers
Trailing-Edge Baby Boomers
Millenials or (Gen-Y)

In short, Generational Marketing Theory says that our world can be sorted into generational groups of people who share common hobbies, interests, thought processes, buying patterns and other behaviors, based upon their shared life experiences.

Consider how different the value systems of those who lived during the Great Depression are from those who lave lived their entire lives during prosperous periods. The theory begins to make sense, doesn't it?

Here's one, quick example: Gen-X versus Boomers - buying habits
Gen-Xers love to shop around and are very price conscious. They are voracious pre-shoppers and are masters at using the Internet to evaluate one offer versus another. In total contrast, Leading-Edge Boomers are very much driven by convenience. They are the utlimate impulse buyers. Big spenders, these Boomers see it and have to have it now.

Before you begin to shout, "Hey - don't stereotype me!" Please understand that this theory is only used for high-level shaping and direction. It is never definitive. Nor is it a replacement for research. The theory certainly understands and allows for individuality. Still, it is very useful.

There's more here on Generational Marketing Theory, should you wish to learn more.

For those marketing geniuses who really want to deep dive, go buy a copy of Defining Markets Defining Moments, by Geoffrey E. Meredith & Charles D. Schewe, PhD. Hungry Minds, Inc., New York, 2002.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Karan I. said...

I've done some research about generational differences as they relate to employment. It's interesting to learn what is important to a Baby Boomer in terms of job satisfaction in contrast to, say, a Gen X-er.

Love the blog, by the way!

9:19 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Karan-
We'd love to hear what you've learned. Maybe you'd like to post a guest article about this topic? It would be a great addition.

And thanks for the praise. It's always welcome.

Skip

11:22 AM

 

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