The age of your consumers, customers, and potential customers plays an important role in how you target them with content. But there’s another way to look at it.
Attempting to get to know your audience may be giving you a headache because no two people are the same. But you can identify values that may be important to certain people, and age is certainly a demographic that affects this.
Rather than taking into account how old your audience is, consider the concept of generations instead.
While you can’t tell what someone likes or dislikes from their age alone, a group of people born in the same period of time will share similarities.
What is a generation?
Generations are defined by their year of birth, not their age. Thinking of your target audience as 40-50 years of age refers to a life stage, not a generation.
Pondering what might attract a 20-year-old to engage with your content forms a different mindset to that of thinking of them as part of the Gen Z group.
Think generation, not age
Crafting your content from an age perspective has been said to be one dimensional. When changing your perspective by looking at a generation as a whole, it comes to light that groups of people who have experienced the same world events through the eyes of their time have a mutual mindfulness and joint memory allowing them to bond and reminisce.
Segmenting your audience into generations helps you understand what matters to them and, equally, what may not resonate with them.
If you still think of millennials as teens and young adults, you’d be wrong. Millennials, aka Gen Y, were born 1981-1995 – making them now aged between 25 and 40 years of age. Their interests and opinions will have evolved dramatically since they were at school and college.
Thinking in terms of a generational viewpoint rather than applying your own specified age groups helps you to understand why your audience behaves the way it does.
Each generation has grown up with different technology available to them and in different political landscapes.
The Baby Boomers lived through the after-effects of WWII while Gen Z has always known one country or another to be at war. World and socio-economic events contribute to the way a person views life. It also contributes to how they view your company so getting your message tailored to specific generational segments is key to gaining results.
Profiling the generations
The years that define each generation are debated and sometimes overlap.
Born between 1946 and 1964
Currently aged 57 – 75
These guys are the oldest living generation. They’re more likely to leave a voicemail, never miss an issue of their preferred newspaper, and may have created a Facebook account to keep up to date with family news. They are the largest generation with a big influence on the economy. They were born after WWII in a more positive climate, spent much of their lives without technology but are slowly coming to terms with it. Their children have most likely flown the nest, they’ve probably paid off their mortgage, and therefore have more spare cash.
Born between 1965 and 1980
Currently aged 41 – 56
Trying to raise their own children, this generation is also caring for their elderly parents meaning they have less disposable income. They tend to read the newspapers but spend a lot of time on the internet and using Facebook and Twitter in particular. They’re most likely to read reviews and do their research before buying anything online. They’re a more confusing and confused bunch as the older Gen Xers have similar traits to the Baby Boomers, while the younger lot can relate more to the millennials who are younger than them.
Millennials (Gen Y)
Born between 1981 and 1996
Currently aged 25 – 40
Having experienced first-hand the eruption of the internet and social media, they’re a lot more tech-savvy. They have a large amount of student debt and have little to no tolerance for slow or sloppy customer service. You’ll find them shopping and working on their mobile phones but tend to feel more focused using a computer. They’re responsible for producing the most entrepreneurs and are the largest workforce in the UK. They’ve often been referred to as ‘snowflakes’ in the past due to their environmentally and politically conscious behaviours. They love efficient service providers such as Amazon Prime and Uber.
Born between 1997 and 2012
Currently aged 6 – 24
They probably had their first mobile phone in childhood aged around 10 and control other devices such as tablets with ease, quickly adapting to different user faces. They’re more concerned with understanding their finances having witnessed their parents’ debt and money struggles. Their attention span is much shorter than all other generations. They’re on board with the Millennials’ desire to do good in the world and like to learn through multiple channels rather than the classroom alone. YouTube is a preferred source for learning and developing their opinions. They’re more likely than other generations to have an active TikTok account and produce their own YouTube content.
Born between 2012 and 2025
Currently aged 0 – 9
Generation Alpha represents the youngest of the population today. They’re predicted to be the most educated out of all the generations before them. Their education has been dominated by virtual programming and video calls, relying on many new online learning platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their baby photos will have been viewed by people outside their immediate family after their parents’ uploads to social media channels. They’re growing up in a time when social and environmental politics are a top concern. Their first experience of money may be through a screen, and they may never deal in physical cash.
Do you resonate with the characteristics of your generation?