How the C-Suite Can Keep its Finger on the Generational Pulse


Ann FishmanBy Ann Arnof Fishman, President, Generational Targeted Marketing

How well do you know your customers? Are you in touch with America’s six distinct generations? You better be if you want to see results, because each of these unique generations has very different values, attitudes, lifestyles, and preferred methods of communication. To succeed, your marketing plan must match with the strength of your products or services and is aligned with the unique needs of the targeted generation or generations you are trying to reach.

If you are lucky enough to have grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, you can get glimpses into different generational characteristics. If you pay attention to your employees, you can get even more valuable insights. It’s a win-win for you and the customer.

Marketing to the Millennial WomanAs a very current example, being out of touch is what we see happening to the political establishment during this 2016 presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are not phenomenon, they simply tapped into what generations of voters want. So, what do your customers and clients want and how can your product or service help them? If you find the silver bullet, you’re golden.

For example, Lexus is thinking about changing its business model to keep Millennials (born 1982 to 2000, ages 16 to 34) —almost 80 million potential consumers—happy. Millennials don’t like to haggle, so Lexus is considering making the sticker price THE price. Millennials prefer to talk to friends and family about the car, so the day of the ever-present, hovering salesperson may be over…if not totally over, it’s at least a very different negotiation process than you grandfather had.

What about Gen X? (born 1961 to 1981, ages 35 to 55) They are a smaller generation, but they exert great influence over the buying decisions of other generations. For one thing, they are practical.  For example, if you want them to choose your company’s credit card it would be wise to offer 50,000 frequent flyer miles as a bonus, with a reasonable spending requirement within a three-month period. An extra bonus is Xers often recommend credit cards to others.

Boomers (born 1943 to 1960, ages 56 to 73) are another story. They must know what their peers think about your products and services. Testimonials from other buyers beat quotes from experts every time. Check out QVC’s shopping channel. They offer customer comments on every product, both the good ones and the bad ones, and their customers trust shopping with them. Returns are hassle free and unchallenged. Telephone salespeople couldn’t be nicer. Boomers thrive on being treated special and QVC does just that.

Let’s not forget the Silent Generation (born 1925 to 1942, ages 74 to 91). They have money to spend and they want to experience as much as they can, while they can, because they feel life has passed them by. To reach them, they do respond to quotes from experts. After all, they grew up with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. And, although they consider themselves up to date, many prefer the feel of paper in a catalog, brochure or letter rather than going strictly online. Don’t overlook them because silents are willing to spend on big ticket items.

The customer is always right. But, depending on the generation, getting to know how each generation defines “right” can keep your finger on the pulse of a generation, your customers happy, and your bottom line in the black.

About the Author: Ann A. Fishman was awarded four U.S. Senate Research Fellowships to study generational trends and taught generational marketing at New York University. She is president of Generational Targeted Marketing, LLC, a specialized marketing firm providing insights into the preferences, trends, and buying habits of each of America’s six generations. She is an expert in providing insights into the preferences, trends, and buying habits of each of America’s six generations. She taught generational marketing at NYU. Her book, “Marketing to the Millennial Woman,” was recently published and can be found on 






Leave a Comment