Millennials and boomers are onto your tricks and other key facts about the generations

Ah, “brand loyalty”: the sweetest words to a marketer’s ears. Yet this most elusive of KPIs isn’t one-size-fits-all.

When you get down to it, brand loyalty means very different things for various generations. For example, did you know millennials love cause marketing (think TOMS Shoes), while Gen Xers prefer a more transactional relationship with their brands?

Let’s look at how to approach brand loyalty among the most popular consumer demographics: millennials, Gen Xers, moms and boomers.


Yeah, we know – we’re a little tired of hearing about millennials, too (despite the fact that our team is millennial strong). But with a purchasing power that just won’t quit – they make up 30 percent of the population and spend an estimated $200 billion a year – millennials are a must-hit for your brand loyalty campaigns.

Purchase Philosophy: Millennials want to feel involved. In fact, they feel that purchases represent who they are. One survey indicated that 40 percent of them were willing to pay more for a brand that reflected their self-image. Among other generations, only 25 percent were.

How to Approach Them: Be that person at a party everyone’s excited to know. But please, lose the tuxedo shirt: millennials can spot a phony, overreaching attempt from a mile away. Research shows that “being authentic” is one of the two most important things a brand can do to engage millennials.

Where to Reach Them: Mobile, mobile, mobile. We genuinely can’t overemphasize your need to reach millennials on their phones. Sixty-seven percent of them use their phones to access the Internet, as opposed to just 40 percent of boomers; 18 percent of them are mobile-only Web users, as compared to just five percent of people aged 35 to 54. These give you mad opportunities to connect.

Who’s Doing It Right: Millennials have a diverse taste for media, as long as it doesn’t appear to try too hard. We love the SoCal regional Honda dealers’ association’s Helpful Honda guys campaign, the sort that should appeal to the millennial’s desire to see a brand put profit aside and create a relationship with consumers.

Gen Xers

It’s OK, Gen X. Millennials might think you’re getting over the hill, but we don’t. In fact, Gen X is the country’s most powerful purchase group: Though Gen Xers make up 25 percent of the U.S. population, they hold 32 percent of its spending power.

Purchase Philosophy: Gen Xers are willing to fork over the cash, but only for products and services they feel are worth their hard-earned dollars. A University of New Hampshire study shows that, among the generations, Gen Xers are particularly prone to researching brands in order to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of.

How to Approach Them: Show them you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. They’ll buy from your brand, but only if they’re receiving an authentic, valuable product in return.

Where to Reach Them: Mobile, with desktop and tablet in second place. Gen Xers prefer their laptops for tasks that require more attention, but they embrace mobile for higher-frequency tasks. In terms of shopping, Gen Xers will use mobile to buy CPG and consumer electronics.

Who’s Doing It Right: Clorox consistently produces marketing campaigns that touch on Gen Xers’ desire for simple, meaningful messages and useful, valuable products.


Believe it or not, boomers and millennials are pretty similar when it comes to their brand relationships. In fact, boomers are even more ad-averse than skeptical millennials (cue “get off my lawn” jokes here). Two thirds of “empty nesters” claim not to trust traditional advertising.

Purchase Philosophy: Boomers typically have their go-to brands figured out, though that trend has been changing in recent years. Just know that boomers will switch products or try something new only if they clearly understand the benefits.

How to Approach Them: Skip the hard sell with boomers. No, seriously. They’re as skeptical as millennials – but a lot less hesitant to tell you to hit the road.

Where to Reach Them: Boomers are more likely to read content on their tablets than any other generation. But they’re especially loyal to their laptops. Sixty percent of them use laptops to look at news sites and 55% use them to look up health information.

Who’s Doing It Right: Olay consistently uses images of powerful baby boomers in their advertising campaigns. What’s more, they make strong benefit claims, backed up by quotes about data and results. More broadly, if you make a good, universal product, this cohort will buy it. Contrary to the myth of the tech-averse senior, boomers buy 40 percent of Apple products, according to Nielsen.


Though moms are cross-generational in age, they are a must-target group for brand loyalty campaigns. Oh, and did we mention that they’re a $2.4 trillion market and hold 85% of all purchasing power for the home?

Purchase Philosophy: Today’s mom is a community-driven consumer, with a desire for encouraging and empathetic brand relationships.

How to Approach Them: Mommy marketing must be social-ready. Sixty percent of mothers access Facebook multiple times a day and 92 percent of mothers who use social media make purchase decisions based on what they see on it. Also, demonstrate that you understand what matters to her and her community. Just please approach her as more than “mom.” She wants to know that you see her as an individual woman with a life outside of her kids.

Where to Reach Them: Like millennials, moms are mobile: In 2014, 83% of them owned smartphones and almost half used them to research products. In fact, moms spend an average of 6.1 hours on their smartphones (and the majority of them actively or sometimes use commerce apps).

Who’s Doing It Right: 4moms is just one mom-focused site among the masses, but it’s their brand voice and approach that really make them stand out. Their social campaigns and on-trend messaging display a camaraderie and understanding that draws in modern moms.

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