Marketing to Millennials and Boomers may seem like speaking to polar opposites, but they may actually share some important similarities and needs that can make them interesting promotional partners.
To be sure Millennials and Boomers are looking at opportunities from the opposite ends of life, but they have some surprising things in common:
- Millennials are curious about and want to travel the world before settling down. Boomers are curious about and want to travel the world while they are still physically able.
- Millennials grew up with digital technology and use text messages to replace the telephone. Boomers are steadily embracing use of digital technology to replace going to retail stores.
- Millennials are looking for affordable housing close to the action. So are Boomers.
- Millennials take funny selfies with their friends. Boomers take funny selfies with the grandchildren.
It could be improbably playful – and profitable – to market to both at once.
You can’t overlook the significant differences between these age cohorts. But even differences have similarities. Many Millennials labor under crushing student loan debt and struggle to find jobs that pay well. Boomers are staring at retirement, often with inadequate savings and a financial and psychological need to keep working. Both could use sound financial advice, job leads and more flexible work options.
When Millennials travel in Europe, they usually take the train. Boomers increasingly book river cruises. But they wind up in many of the same locations. How they get there may matter less than what they do when they get there.
Millennials often postpone family life. Boomers are empty nesters. Without small children, both are free to undertake adventures to out-of-the-way places such as Nepal or Peru. They could go on a photo safari in an African savannah or a road bike tour. Shared adventure, not disparate age would be the common denominator for markets to promote.
The sense of fashion can vary widely between Millennials and Boomers. Yet both could value performance apparel. What each age group may be able to afford won’t negate both group’s interest in affordable accommodations through the likes of Airbnb. Millennials and Boomers may appreciate the convenience and safety of hailing a ride on Uber or Lyft. They each want to document important life events so want phones with quality cameras they can shoot great pictures and capture video. They also will use technology such as live streaming to stay in touch and talk to younger children.
A deeply shared concern is economic security. MetLife has launched a new ad campaign called “Navigating Life Together" that capitalizes on the multi-generational appeal of employee benefit plans. It is an excellent example of marketing to multiple generations.
The bottom line is there is natural link between Boomers and Millennials. Their coming of age has an eerie parallel. Young people are growing more interested in political protests. They couldn’t find better mentors than Boomers who grew up with protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. For many products and services, segmenting by age makes sense. But don’t overlook opportunities to see beyond age barriers to appeals without