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How to Sell and Engage with different Generations (Gen X, Y & Z)

Millennials are challenging the way businesses across the world do business. If businesses don’t change the traditional buyer-seller relationship, businesses will die.

It sounds like a sweeping click-bait headline, but the research is there and if businesses don’t “move with the times” they will die out, along with their increasing aging client population.

This of course, won’t happen immediately, but if you think about how you can future-proof the way you sell and communicate with your clients and customers, you will save yourself future stress further down the line.

 

So what are Millennials and Generation X?

These aren’t a *what* they are a *who*. These describe the general age brackets of a person and with it, an understanding of their use or lack thereof of technology, ability to deal with change, what’s important in life to them, and more importantly for businesses – what and how they want to buy services and products.

Here’s a breakdown of the different generation types…

 

Generation X – People bor between 1964 and 1980

These people are good at balancing committed workloads with relax and chill time. These people would have seen computers the size of farms and will remember the sound of the dial-up modem clearly, they were around in the “dot-com boom”. They will also regularly post on social media *how good old technology was* and tell stories of how the “save icon” on windows actually used to be a physical storage media. This group of people saw the first wave of *computers taking our jobs* (which we are seeing now with Gen Z in a different form), they are also quite politically active and passionate about human rights. Gen X’ers are usually supporting a combination of both an older parent and child at the same time, and value brand loyalty over cost.

Top tip – often referred to as the “forgotten generation” but these people generally spend 33% more annually than Millennials (and 11% more than Baby Boomers). This group of people have a strong focus of #workhardplayhard and like to get a “good deal”, so use that to your advantage.

Top platform for communications - Email

 

Generation Y (Millennials) – People born between 1981 and 1996

These people are usually tech savvy, will probably know how to use the specific technology for their job, but may not have had any further training or official education in anything technology based. This generation usually missed out on any sort of “IT” qualifications at school and normally learn “on-the-job”, but are usually the first to come forwards with ideas on how to reduce time and processes by using technologies. This generation have ended up being the *scapegoats* for most media outlets, blamed for the rise of social media and reduction of human interactions. However, it is said that if you see a Gen Y person, they can and will be able to engage in real-world conversations! This generation want to make a positive difference to the world with the jobs they do. It is important to note most Millennials will have lived through tragedies including 9/11, 7/7 and the 2008 financial crisis, to name just a few. This group have seen the negative curves of the world and have little previous positives to compare to. This group have people have grown up alongside technology (otherwise known as “digital natives”) and continued to stay ahead of the digital curve.

Top tip – Gen Y like to use social media and online platforms for social good. They like to see brands doing the same too. What can you offer as “added value”?

Top platform for communication – Social Media, predominantly Facebook.

 

Xennials – People born between 1977 and 1984

A sub-section of these two group is also Xennials (which our co-founder here, Liz is proud to be) – they are a combination of being at the end of the Generation Y group and the start of the X generation, but don’t feel like they fit into either – these are usually people who have grown up not having the internet, have seen technology develop from car-phones to mini computer smart-phones and passionately feel technology can be a change for good. They will also never have had to have awkward baby photos being posted online for all the world to see. They are usually curious and cautious in equal measure, and understand well the security implications of the online world. 

Top tip – Mix it all up – as these people are a hybrid of generations, they also like to use technology and offline means too. So think about balance of tech versus real world for this generation.

Top platform for communication – Email

 

Generation Z (Gen Z) (Post-Millennials) – People between 1997 and 2011

These are tech savvy people, digital by default, political and active in causes they care about, less about possessions and more about experiences, they would have grown up with an iPhone in their hands and trying to swipe the TV screen in the lounge when they were toddlers. This group of people never knew a life without the internet, never had to put up with dial-up, and have grow up having a world of knowledge but a few seconds search away. These people have strong entrepreneurial mind-sets and are use to doing things on their own.

Top tip – everything needs to be fast engagement, high quality products and with a personalised service. Gen Z would rather pay to have access to multiple options rather than owning one option. This is the social-media first generation – they use these platforms to research and engage with their sellers.

Top platform for communication – Social Media

 

Generation Alpha – People born between 2011 and 2025

We are now in this generation. A term coined by Mark McCrindle. These young people already have devices and technology in their daily lives.

Top tip – Cultivate your brand awareness and marketing simply and directly to this new generation. They undoubtedly have parents who are Millennials and Post-Millennials who you can craft proxy advertising at too.

Top platform for communication – Youtube Childrens (as they are at the moment no older than 8 years old!)

 

And not forgetting…

Baby Boomers – People born between 1943 and 1964

A lot of online conversations and stats work around these people too. After the end of World War II there was an massive spike in births, thus “Baby Boomers” got it’s name. 

These people generally have authoritarian vibes, are usually confident and understand the importance of independence.

 

The Silent Generation – People born between 1928 and 1945

These people were named as “silent” because they apparently grew up “knowing to keep quiet to the media” and avoided sharing their views. Most of these people default to digitally excluded or digitally dismissives, and have to be convinced that technology can be a tool for them.

 

So how does that effect sales to different generations?

Now we know each generation is slightly different, hopefully this will help you define (or re-define) your target audience’s profile and online persona or “avatar” 

 

Here’s some stats and thoughts to think about…

 

60% of Millennials will buy a cup of takeout coffee every day - https://www.thebalance.com/how-millennials-spending-habits-compare-to-other-generations-4240695

Forbes stated last year that Generation Z hold $44 billion buying power - https://www.forbes.com/sites/jiawertz/2018/10/28/how-to-win-over-generation-z-who-hold-44-billion-of-buying-power/

66% of Gen Z use multiple devices at once - https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/51395.wss

64% of Millennials post photos of their cars on social media vs 26% of Gen X’ers - https://www.admiral.com/generationcar

 

So, you can see with the variety of generations, comes a variety of customer needs and wants to understand and cater for. Whatever it is you are trying to sell, consider how you might offer your product or service to a generation you aren’t targeting yet!

If you’d like help being found online and on social media, give us a shout. Our training and done-for-you services can help!

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