Marketing to Today’s Customer: The Evolution of Reaching Multi-generation Consumers

Jan 9, 2020

By Steve Sturm

Marketing has seen a dramatic evolution from the 1990’s era of Brand Management (the single dimension- 4 P’s – (Product/Price/Place/Promotion) to today’s marketing in a multigenerational and multicultural consumer world.

Successful marketing and media plans require four key elements:

  • Understanding the profiles of multi-generation consumers
  • Understanding how each audience consumes information
  • Understanding how to engage with and maintain relationships with each unique audience
  • Understanding why marketing needs the collaboration of a corporation’s finance, research, and information technology to optimize performance in today’s marketplace

Too often new product introductions fail, wasting significant amounts of time and money, because a fully realized marketing strategy was not developed prior to launch. I’ve seen this time and again. It is shocking to discover how many companies lack a thorough understanding of the value of marketing, including the depth of consumer data that’s available, and data’s role in defining, engaging, and capturing each unique audience segment. Baby Boomers (age 55-76), Generation X (age 43-54), Gen Y (Millennial’s) (age 24-42), and our youngest demographic, Gen Z (age 23 -) each have different demands for how they want to receive information and make purchases. This is apparent in how they engage with companies, brands, and media, and how they socialize products. All media platforms play a pivotal role in this process. Instead, many marketers are guided by the newest “shiny-object” trends in digital platforms. They often believe these platforms will be the best, and the only way to reach target audiences. However, the real key to long term success is the utilization of mix of marketing, data tools and analytics, and media that will create the most efficient, effective, and measurable way to reach and engage target consumer segments on their path to purchase.

Collaboration and measurement are additional elements that lead to marketing success. It is important to distinguish whether you are launching a new product or service, or you are trying to grow market share of existing brands. How well a company utilizes and measures the results of digital, mobile, social media, virtual reality, augmented reality, and data, in conjunction with traditional media, will determine the success or failure of their brands in the future. The establishment of measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) between the company and their advertising agencies will best determine success. It is also important for the research, planning and information technology groups within a company to be in close communication and coordination with the marketing department when setting performance goals and measuring results.

To reach all audience segments and drive revenue, today’s successful marketing requires companies to be proactive and stay one step ahead of the competition by understanding evolving trends, market changes, and the ever-changing demands of each audience segment. To reach long term goals, it is essential to optimize all available resources in the marketing mix.

Corporate organizations must invest in the knowledge, expertise, and resources of industry experts who can navigate the constantly changing media landscape in order to fully develop and execute marketing plans that will maximize sales and revenue, long before launching a product or service into the marketplace.

Steve Sturm is an Eleven Canterbury executive expert with over 35 years of experience in marketing and strategic planning. He has held leadership positions at Toyota, AOL and Advanstar. He was the Group VP Corporate Communications, Strategic Planning, and Research for Toyota Motors North America.

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