Generational Marketing: How to Target Millennials, Gen Z, and Other Cohorts

There is a reason why the generational offer is one of the most important trends in loyalty marketing for the year 2024. When it comes to defining your audiences, demographics are a key building block. From awareness to advocacy, incorporating generational marketing insights into your strategy can greatly influence how people engage with your brand and, as a result, increase their loyalty. Ready to crack the code on targeting all age groups?

What is generational marketing?

Generational marketing strategically divides audiences by age and focuses on the values and experiences relevant to each age group. It does not mean creating separate marketing plans for different labels (e.g., Baby Boomers, Gen Y, Zoomers), but rather adapting elements of the current strategy to resonate with the target audience.

Each generation goes through unique defining moments and trends that include cultural, political, and now digital aspects. As a result, these generational markers strongly influence how groups respond to certain messages. For brands looking to connect with and build loyalty across age groups, generational marketing is a powerful tool.

Generational differences – who is who, exactly?

  • Generation Z (born 1997-2012), also known as iGen or Zoomers: as true digital natives, Gen Z prioritizes variety in their preferences. With shorter attention spans, they actively engage on visual social platforms and show a preference for interactive and visually engaging content.
  • Millennials (born 1981-1996), also known as Generation Y or Net Generation: tech-savvy and socially conscious, Gen Y values experiencing over owning. They are active participants in social media, prefer brands that are aligned with a cause, and actively seek out content that is personalized.
  • Generation X (born 1965-1980), also known as MTV Generation: known for their independence and adaptability, Gen Xers use technology, though they tend to adopt it later in life. Their appreciation for authenticity extends to valuing responsive customer service.
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), also known as Traditionalists: adhering to traditional values, Baby Boomers prioritize quality and loyalty. They value personalized customer service and may be less comfortable with technology, expressing a preference for print media and face-to-face interactions.
*Source: Statista 2022

How to target different generations?

Gen Z

Customer profile of Gen Z

This cohort came of age in a tech-centric environment, making them the first true digital natives. As a result, iGen has been consistently exposed to digital advertising, resulting in an ability to effortlessly ignore it. Zoomers are the least brand loyal generation. Key factors shaping Gen Z include climate change, the rise of social media, gender equality, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their core values include environmental awareness, diversity, progressivism, technological savvy, and a commitment to volunteerism.

As the most engaged demographic on social media, Gen Z predominantly occupies platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Notably, their purchasing decisions are heavily impacted by influencers.

What Gen Z expects from brands

Gen Zers are not receptive to a generic, one-size-fits-all approach from brands. They want to be recognized for their nuances, differences, needs and concerns, and they want meaningful support. Gen Z sees brands not only as providers of goods and services, but also as vehicles for change, authenticity and personal connection.

Marketing strategy for Gen Z

  • Utilize social media marketing with the use of visual storytelling
  • Use the power of influencer marketing to inspire creation of user generated content
  • Prefer concise content formats such as TikTok videos, tweets, threads, or images
  • Give priority to content that is compatible with mobile devices
  • Engage with comments on various social channels
  • Stay updated on trends and integrate them into your marketing campaigns
  • Highlight the core values associated with your brand

Gen Z marketing examples

There are a couple of brands that get Zoomers. The “We Make Today” Instagram’s campaign applied several effective strategies. First, it carefully selected online personalities who were instantly recognizable to the Generation Z demographic and featured user-generated content from these individuals. Second, it highlighted the platform's ability to unite people around causes they care about, such as sustainability and equality. Third, the campaign showcased a remarkably diverse cast, captured in a truly authentic style tailored for social media appeal.

Another example is the Diet Coke from Coca Cola. The vintage aesthetic and synth-driven soundtrack contributed to the “Drink What Your Mama Gave Ya” ad's general appeal and embodied key Gen Z digital marketing best practices. First, by recognizing young consumers' preference for streaming video, the ad resembles content one would actively choose to watch rather than a traditional ad. Second, by acknowledging that iGen is the most diverse generation to date, the ad ensures a diverse representation that aligns with the expectations of the brands they support – something Diet Coke successfully delivers.


Customer profile of Millennials

For the millennial generation, their formative years coincided with the emergence of smartphones, which shaped their pronounced preference for mobile phones versus desktops. This inclination extends to their fondness for both organic and paid social media networks, along with the emergence of Google as a search engine. Rooted in these experiences, the core values of Gen Y include knowledge, ambition, innovation, personalization, and social responsibility.

Millennials have a robust presence on social media, favoring chat or text messaging as their preferred mode of communication. Some of the social platforms that this generation has embraced include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. They are likely to make purchasing decisions influenced by product reviews on social media.

What Millennials expect from brands 

Having a solid brand is an important asset when it comes to Generation Y. However, when targeting Millennials, marketers should embody transparency. Being transparent is quickly becoming a powerful differentiator, as these consumers are more likely to trust their peers and external, independent experts than they are to trust the company directly.

Marketing strategy for Millennials

  • Try to increase reviews on Google and various social media channels
  • Emphasize CSR activities and brand values in your marketing
  • Use chatbots and automated bulk SMS marketing messages for prompt responses
  • Ensure website optimization for search engines and mobile devices
  • Guest post on platforms frequented by millennials.
  • Devote resources to social media advertising, especially on Facebook
  • Prioritize the creation of graphics and content with a focus on “shareability”

Millennials marketing examples

Chipotle is a great example of a successful brand among Millennials. The company uses a marketing approach that focuses on the story of food sourcing and organic farming. Chipotle positions itself as a restaurant that cares deeply about the quality of its food and the well-being of its customers. This strategy resonates particularly well with a generation that prioritizes environmental concerns and is demanding of companies' sourcing practices. Millennials, known for challenging norms and seeking to understand the intricacies of various aspects of life, including the origin and preparation of their food, find this narrative appealing.

When it comes to cosmetics, First Aid Beauty has captured the hearts of millennials by emphasizing high-quality skin care products developed in collaboration with dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka. While the brand first gained popularity with its well-designed and photographed packaging, its appeal has skyrocketed with the introduction of beautifully packaged makeup, resulting in more distinct before and after images. The makeup line takes a Glossier-inspired approach, offering a capsule-sized collection that embodies the "no-makeup makeup" aesthetic. This thoughtfully curated selection of makeup and new skincare products seamlessly aligns with the preferences of its target consumer base.

Gen X

Customer profile of Gen X

Gen Xers came of age during a time of rapid technological advancement, particularly the proliferation of personal computers and the Internet. They were raised by working parents and spent a significant portion of their day playing and taking care of themselves, discovering the world and developing natural skepticism. As a result, their core values are information, stability, nostalgia, independence, and authenticity.

Among Gen X consumers, email stands out as the predominant online purchase channel, surpassing SMS, banner advertisements, social media posts and ads by significant margins. Gen Xers show a preference for making informed decisions, so marketers should focus on maintaining valuable content on websites, Facebook accounts, and YouTube channels.

What Gen X expects from brands

Although already mentioned with Gen Z, authenticity once again emerges as a paramount factor. It’s important to recognize that Gen X's well-known skepticism translates into a genuine aversion to superficial brand assurances. A substantial 85% of Gen Xers emphasize the importance of authenticity in choosing the brands they prefer and support, an expectation that aligns with their exposure to a myriad of advertising tactics over the years.

Marketing strategy for Gen X

  • Emphasize the reliability of products or services
  • Present your brand’s core values in marketing content
  • Stick to the traditional media, like printed content and TV commercials
  • Consistently offer discounts and coupons
  • Whenever possible, incorporate past people, events and “zeitgeist” to create a sense of nostalgia
  • Offer self-service customer support options
  • Implement loyalty programs with consistent discounts and coupons

Gen X marketing examples

Despite the rise of digital media, IKEA has maintained its success with print catalogs, especially among Gen Xers, who grew up flipping through the iconic folder. They are still positively engaged with this traditional medium.

What about digital content example? Home Depot has found success by creating a collection of online how-to guides and videos that deliver value to DIY-oriented Gen Xers who prefer useful and informative content.

Baby Boomers

Customer profile of Baby Boomers

Over the past 75 years, the baby boomer generation has lived through a momentous era of significant political, social, and cultural events. Fueled by higher-than-average disposable income and a sense of patriotism shaped by historical occurrences, Boomers hold the following core values: hard work, education, individuality, but also high sense of community.

Baby Boomers are particularly comfortable engaging with companies via email. At the same time, a significant number of them use social and messaging channels such as Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and YouTube. There is a common assumption that older generations are less trusting of technology than their younger counterparts. However, it appears that boomers are actually quite avid users of technology.

What Baby Boomers expect from brands

Values such as tradition and reliability are important. Boomers' tendency toward traditionalism provides an opportunity for heritage-focused companies to emphasize this quality in their marketing strategies when targeting this demographic. Above all, Baby Boomers want to buy from companies they can trust. This is evident in their consideration of a company's green credentials, as they actively seek out brands that support local suppliers and prioritize environmental responsibility.

Marketing strategy for Baby Boomers

  • Promote your business with Facebook and LinkedIn ads equally as in traditional marketing platforms (TV, radio)
  • Develop videos that highlight product or service
  • Use clear and concise language, avoiding overt sales pitches; focus on straightforward messaging
  • Choose a high-contrast color palette for your website
  • Provide customer support via email
  • Be transparent about your offerings, including details such as pricing and comprehensive product descriptions

Baby Boomers marketing examples

Toyota does remarkably well with this generation. The brand pictures Boomers active and eager to explore, such as in the “Keep on Rolling” campaign. What’s particularly important, that ad doesn’t portray boomers as old, inert, or technologically inept. Instead, it aligns with their aspirations to live a healthy, active lifestyle.

Another example is John Lewis, a department store brand that doesn't focus exclusively on this generation. However, John Lewis wins favor with Boomers for its excellent staff and service, convenience of shopping, and clearly defined brand values.

Benefits of generational marketing

Why is it so important to target different demographics? There are several proven advantages of generational marketing strategy:

Customer loyalty boost

Generational marketing helps build stronger customer connection by prioritizing the audience in the content creation process. As many as 80% of customers expect a more emotional relationship with a brand, and to drive emotion, you need to make people feel like you understand them.

ROI optimization 

Allocating resources efficiently through generational marketing means targeting efforts to the most receptive audience. This focused approach minimizes costs by emphasizing the most effective actions. That's important because, according to Capgemini, 54% of loyalty programs fail to generate any response while consuming financial resources.

Better brand visibility

Brands can increase awareness through generational marketing by strategically selecting the most effective platforms and advertising channels for their specific audience. For example, for a marketer who targets younger cohorts, it’s extremely important to know that 69% of Millennials prefer Facebook, compared to only 37% of Gen Zs.

Increased relevance

Tailoring content based on generational preferences increases its relevance to the target audience. A more personalized approach in generational marketing is critical, as only 2 in 10 loyalty program members are currently satisfied with the level of content personalization, according to Bond.

Key takeaways

Generational marketing categorizes consumers according to their age and life experiences, allowing brands to focus on individuals they want to perceive as potentially valuable customers. By using behavioral strategies based on generational marketing, marketers can effectively connect with their target audiences to increase customer loyalty and drive sales.

Do you need a tool to help you with this and other types of customer segmentation? Thanks to the integration of AI/ML technology, Comarch Loyalty Marketing Platform enables you to identify patterns in the behavior of loyalty program members, divide customers into groups based on their generational affiliation, personal interests and preferences, and ultimately – build stronger customer relationships. We even have a comprehensive video guide on how to use advanced segmentation to improve promotions and communications. Unlock your access and see how it works in action.


Tell Us Your Case 💬

Upcoming RFP? More info about product and services? Talk integrations? Need a price estimation?

Set up a 30-minute discovery call with our loyalty experts


Customer loyalty tips
straight to your inbox

Join the other 10 000 subscribers to start receiving:

Educational MaterialsInspiring Success Stories  

Trending Event News

Please wait