It pays, or in this case saves, to know your blind spots.
In the Autumn. everything that will be remodeled next season is discounted. From swimsuits to cars, electronics, cookware, wine and bicycles, it’s the season to buy.
With that in mind, consider your favorite brands. What are they? More importantly, how do they make you feel?
Those feelings are no accident. Brands that win and keep us know us. They know our generation, not just marketing segmentation stats, but something more--the visceral way we want to feel about and relate to the things we buy.
Personally, I love Whole Foods and Dolce & Gabbana. They push my generational buttons. That’s OK with me, no shame in being a target market. At the same time, I do not want to buy blindly, having my generational heartstrings strummed without knowing it. Neither should you. When we buy we should know why. Tweet This
Download "Selleration" below to decipher the messages successful brands send you.
If you’re a Boomer, your DNA contains a striver gene. You can be convinced to buy to fulfill personal potential. The Army ran Be All That You Can Be TV spots to you, a competitive generation bent on making the most of itself. As a Boomer, I’ve noticed that the striver part of me has bought stuff for the sake of status. It’s a generational tick. Iconic Boomer brands like Coach bags or Absolut Vodka marked us as people on rise. The VW Beetle stoked the striver side of us with you’re-not–like-the-crowd campaigns, and we bought Levis by the millions to illustrate that we were James Dean-ish rebels, flower power children or upwardly mobile yuppies on casual Friday. All those products fed our desire to appear successful as individuals.
If you’re an Xer you probably buy skeptically. You want proof. You’re likely to approach a purchase like Mikey, the Gen X kid in the commercials that ran when you were growing up. “He won’t eat it. He hates everything,” they said.
Naturally. TV became 24/7 while you were growing up and, like Mikey, you’ve been sold to all your life. You heard lots of false promises on those late-night promo shows.
So the brands that sell successfully to you convey transparency and honesty. Nothing slick or overproduced appeals. Nike's Just Do It campaigns worked with Xers. Likewise the PC and the Mac guys. They just stood there and talked, telling us everything we need to know in order to buy, but without appearing to sell. That was Gen X genius. If you laughed at Where’s the Beef? or the Fed Ex fast talker, you were seeing through the hype and developing Xer skepticism. Brands have to prove themselves to you.
The downside in all this? You may miss a good thing like a company that supports social justice or a low price on something simply because you doubted the promise a little too much or for a little too long.
Millennials (Gen Y)
If you’re Millennial, you buy based on practicality, conversation and social responsibility. Practicality first. As a generation, you tend to be frugal consumers, conscious of what things cost. This makes perfect sense because you’ve seen plenty of financial crisis in the economy. A good example of powerful marketing to your gen is the American Giant tagline Quality Sweatshirts Made to Last. Basic. Practical. Millennial favorites like Target, and Google built their appeal on practicality. The DIT and Maker movements thrive because your gen asks, "Will this work?" more often than "How does this look?"
Then there’s conversation. When was the last time you bought something without going online to see what was being said about that brand? Companies that leverage that conversation win your loyalty before you even know it. For example, if you get bad service at Taco Bell and tweet about it, they tweet you back with a humorous apology. That conversation can win your loyalty, bad service or no. A few years ago, Patagonia built a conversation with its Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign. Of course they wanted you to buy the jacket, but what they did was start an online conversation about environmental issues and corporate and personal responsibility. That’s marketing genius.
Finally, there’s social responsibility. You expect all companies to do some good in the world. You buy brands like Tom’s and Warby Parker because they make social causes a cornerstone of their business.
The only downside here? You may have to remind yourself to buy based on what’s right for you. Outside influences like the conversation and social responsibility can actually distract you from looking squarely at a product and deciding if you need and want it.
here’s an interesting twist. You may be buying a lot like your grandparents did.
Silents and Gen Z
Silents have always bought for value. Shaped by the Second World War and the Great Depression, Silents are inveterate savers and careful spenders. Marketing campaigns that won and kept them said things like We Try Harder (Avis) and A Diamond is Forever (Debeers). Both are about providing value. Even luxury items like Cadillac sold to Silents with key words like quality and craftsmanship. Zs, it turns out, will be a lot like the Silents.
President of Generational Edge, Amy Lynch has written and spoken about the generations for 15 years. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Amy has been quoted in national publications, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC Evening News, among others.