How to Target 2 of Today’s Hottest Markets -
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How to Target 2 of Today’s Hottest Markets

If you’re a B2C marketer you know there are two key target groups to reach today: Millennials and Baby Boomers. But while these two groups are very desirable in terms of their size, influence and purchasing power, they don’t have much in common in terms of their attitudes and outlook. A recent Nielsen study reveals what you need to know to target both younger and older consumers.

One commonality both Millennials and Boomers do share is that they’re both huge tech users—they just use it differently. While Boomers use desktop computers, watch TV and even use landline phones, Millennials are wedded to their smartphones and laptops—which they use to watch TV.

This tech focus means while digital marketing tactics will reach both groups, there are important differences in how Boomer and Millennial brains respond to marketing messages. These differences are driven by biology: Once people reach their mid-40s, the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels dwindle, affecting how the brain responds to stimuli.

If you’re targeting Boomers:

  • Keep in mind that aging brains respond to familiarity and repetition. Your campaign should use the same slogans, graphics, images and marketing messages over and over so Boomer brains can recognize them. Frequency is more important than size when it comes to advertising.
  • Advertising online? Boomer brains can’t handle the tons of stimuli on a typical Web page, so a banner ad will get lost unless you clearly differentiate it from the surroundings. Keep it simple with one clear call to action.
  • Boomers have longer attention spans and prefer to focus on one thing. Long-form content marketing methods such as ebooks and white papers, infomercials and longer online videos will get their interest.
  • Tone-wise, Boomers appreciate a positive, lighthearted message in advertising. They do like humor, but not the snarky type, and they respond well to sentimental messages.
  • Boomers don’t think of themselves as seniors, even if they are, so your advertising should show characters who are slightly younger than your target audience.

If you’re targeting Millennials:

  • Young people’s brains need lots of stimulus to keep them interested, so rich media ads that include video, .gifs and bright colors get their attention, as do banner ads.
  • While millennials have shorter attention spans than Boomers, they’re more able to handle lots of different input at the same time. Use multisensory marketing methods—for example, a video that includes text and interactive tools such as an option to chat with a customer service rep will engage, rather than overwhelm this age group.
  • Tone-wise, Millennials love sarcasm, snarkiness and oddball humor; zany visual elements that might confuse Boomers will get Millennials’ hard-to-grab attention.
  • For male Millennials, wacky humor and sports themes work well. For Millennial women, ads emphasizing fun, aspirational goals or the celebrity lifestyle hit their hot buttons.

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Rieva Lesonsky

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  1. I have heard these theories stated and these methods have been touted for many years. The expectation that obnoxious and obvious repetition sells product has endured for ages, causing advertisers like PC Matic to annoyingly say the name 14 times in ONE AD!. When I feel like a company is trying to use low-budget psychological warfare on my thinking brain, I will REFUSE to support a company that makes it a regular practice to bombard me with condescension. and as for “shiny objects”… My Media professor and my Journalism Editor in Chief used to tell me that certain generations respond to that cheap marketing stuff, and I think it’s not true ALL of the time, or even MOST of the time, not only with the generations who currently fit the respective age profiles, but all of our predecessors since the first product/service was sold from a cave.
    The best marketing tool is to have a great product or service that people will stay the night in front of the store to get to it and buy it first! It’s really best to sell something tht folks WANT and NEED and LOVE… one cannot substitute bad and tired psych games and expect success. Imagine how insulted folks feel when a company assumes the audience and customer base is just a stupid pavlovian dog pulling out it’s little dog-wallet every time an ad says the same words really too many times… or when ad features shiny objects.
    I saw an ad from the big organization for retired folks, and I was at my Dad’s house watching TV with him. He’s 83 and hearing is just about shot, but he did catch something very stupid in the ad we saw. Namely, the insurance being offered in the ad BY this company is officially the ONLY insurance of its kind that is supported by …. the company that made the ad! That is just like Burger King making an ad that says,”The Whopper is the only flagship fast food burger they would OR COULD recommend or endorse”… He said he hates those ads, “because they assume older folks are retarded or something.” and I have to say I agree with pops.
    It’s no wonder people hate ads. Entire marketing departments are told these things as if it were gospel year after year, and it’s simply not true anymore. Ask yourself… does that sort of praddle make you want to show patronage and loyalty? Of course not!
    I’ll tell you one thing I am certain of, you insult a potential client or customer and you harm the all-important trust factor, as well as make someone’s day just a bit less pleasant… Folks are “on to it” already!

    • Thanks Thomas for all your insight. I mostly agree with your points, especially with your contention that the best way to a customer’s heart (and wallet) is by providing a product or service they really want.

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