For decades, the question was, “how do we market to the younger generations?” In the 90s, it was Gen X. 2000s? New Gen Ys look like they will want everything different. In fact, they’re so different, we can’t even use the same naming scheme.
We’ll call them Millennials. Yes, that feels good. Because they’re unique. And lived through the dastardly Y2K. #ISurvivedY2K
Turns out, Millennials were different. We grew up amidst both massive growth and enormous economic failures. Basically, there’s a lot working against us. I definitely don’t have time to go through them all.
And that’s fine, because there’s a new generation.
Gen Z. Ooooh. Young and spunky, but jaded like no other. For some reason, with these guys, we’re fine resuming the old naming convention. Finish the alphabet strong, right?
What makes Gen Z stand out? I yeet that question. Forget Millennials “destroying industries”…this generation will finish them all.
Connecting with Generations
There’s truth to every one of these analyses. People of different generations do exhibit unique qualities. And what engages a Gen X may not interest a Gen Z. Not to mention you can’t use the same platforms, because they’re just not there.
Yet this is all missing a bigger point. It’s about the generations, sure, but it’s about something even more basic. It’s about clarity, transparency, openness, warmth. I’m talking marketing to men and marketing to women.
Women Make Money Decisions
Ever wonder why home improvement marketing targets those handy men (and some women), yet home buying targets couples? It’s not only because, “this is a big decision we should make together.” It’s because the latter gets it. They know the women overwhelmingly make the purchasing decisions.
It’s not just me saying it. Women make the vast majority of purchasing decisions, no matter who works (or if it’s a multiple income household). In every marketing aspect, the biggest differentiator is gender.
So if women make the decisions, no matter their age, why are we putting so much focus on the generational trends? Look, I’m guilty of it as well, though my advice tended to be, “connect where and how people are, in an honest and transparent way.”
Let’s look at a recent rebrand from a company you may recognize (Disclosure: My company works with them).
TrueCar: A “Radikal” Rebrand
TrueCar doesn’t sell cars. However, they are the top rated site for people to find and get a guaranteed price on a nearby car. So they’re a big part of the car-buying process.
And, frankly, car buying sucks. Unless you’re buying a Tesla, you have the whole dealer thing to navigate. I’ve bought Mazdas for many years, from the same dealer and salesperson, and still, I don’t like the system.
Let’s be honest. Have you, or someone you knew, ever said, “by golly, I’m just super stoked about my car dealer! They’re the real cat’s meow!” That’s how people talk, right? Sounds fine to me.
The team at TrueCar hadn’t heard those comments, either. Yet their business depends on people going through that process. How do you encourage more people to do something we all know is, at best, meh?
In their surveys, the new design language out-tested every other brand in likability by women. They’re featured in the animations, because apparently TrueCar also has this strange perception that women…exist.
So do you design for women only and exclude everyone else? I mean, you could, and you’d probably be fine, as long as you avoid “For Her” Bic pens (Definitely check out the “reviews”). It’s not like they’re half the population or anything.
I’m a guy and I love the new design. The old one wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t anything special. It told what they did in a traditional “trust-building and calming” blue tone. True was bold and caps because it is about being true to all parties.
The new one keeps that messaging and makes it about you. Because buying a car is personal. And that the decision-process can be fun…especially if it’s easy to do.
Doesn’t that make you want to at least look for a new car?
Generational Marketing is So Last Generation
So we’re done with generational marketing? Yes. And no. Because generational understanding still gives you valuable insights. It’s just not the complete story.
For example, a Boomer is less likely to be on Snapchat. So if you’re trying to promote products that fit their needs, it’s a silly place to market. Use age-specific demographics and include in your social strategy.
On the other side, a piece of education or product that works for a range of ages should be tailored to women. Because that’s your common factor. 25 and 65-year old women both fit a demographic.
And why tailor to women rather than men? Because, once again, women make the buying decisions. Convincing men a certain razor is better might make them buy it.
More likely, the marketing will inspire them to ask their wife to buy it (or she’ll notice and get it on her own). And we’re not even talking about same-sex or cohabitation living arrangements.
Marketing At Your Credit Union
How does this relate to your credit union’s marketing and outreach strategies? It means going back to your mission. Again.
Take a look at your About Us or Why We Exist page. What does it present?
Most likely, it teaches you about a destination that people trust and rely upon for:
Sound financial advice
Tools to help simplify a variety of life stages
Efforts to boost the economic well-being of members
That sure sounds like stuff you’d want to present to the financial decision-maker of a household. Which means, your message is already solid. The change needs to come in how you convey it.