Time has divided the world’s population into generations, and the environment in which they grew up has rewarded them with distinctive perceptions, values, and preferences. Profound research of generations and the search for common features is the approach of generational marketing. It reveals the connection between the demographic characteristics of the target audience, the advertising channels, and the decision-making model. Try to use it in communication with your app users, and you will see the result.
This article will describe various generation groups and see how they differ from each other. We will also find out which mobile games and apps they prefer and give some helpful marketing tips for each of these groups.
The generational theory was developed in 1991 by American sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe. According to this theory, people born in a certain period of time have similar values, habits, and a type of thinking.
The essence of the theory is that generations replace each other approximately every 20 years, and people related to them are united by three criteria:
- They are influenced by the same historical events and socio-cultural trends at the same stages of their lives.
- They have common beliefs and a similar pattern of behaviour. Thus, representatives of some generations adhere to the concept of gender equality, while others adhere to the patriarchal family model, where all important decisions are made by a man.
- Certain life experiences give them a sense of belonging to their generation. For example, people who survived the war and then participated in the reconstruction of the country feel unity with each other.
Of course, it is impossible to evaluate each individual only by their belonging to a generation. But understanding what drives people of a certain age can help you approach them. Nowadays, the generational theory helps to better understand the mood of society, not only politicians and scientists but also businesses. How do people of all ages perceive advertising? Where do they get information from? Where do they look for goods and how do they make decisions? Answers to these questions help to better communicate with consumers and increase sales.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at each generation, its values, and its characteristics.
Baby Boomers: Traditionalism
People of this generation were born between 1943 and 1960. The generation got its name because of the surge in birth rates after World War II. They have a team spirit, patriotism, and nostalgia for youth.
Baby boomers value live communication, so they enjoy interacting with salespeople and consultants in stores or markets. They also love permanence. If a boomer likes a brand, they will stay with it for many years, even if there is something better nearby. Additionally, people of this generation are frugal and often have some savings “for a rainy day.”
71% of baby boomers watch the news on the TV. However, half have mastered the Internet and browse the news on Facebook.
Generation X: Family Values
Gen X are people born between 1961 and 1981. Now they are at the peak of their careers and receive the highest income, hence the purchasing power. And yet this is a generation that knows how to save money.
A typical “X” values family, a steady job, a home, and a car. They do not expect gifts from life but work diligently to achieve results. The Xs are also called the “sandwich generation” because they seem to be “sandwiched” between caring for both parents and children.
Representatives of generation X can still watch TV and are loyal to TV advertising, while they are well versed in modern technologies and actively use the Internet. Their values are professionalism, independence, freedom of choice, responsibility, personal communication, equality, and frugality.
Generation Y (Millennials): Freedom
Gen Y members were born between 1982 and 2000. People of these years are also called millennials because they have come of age in the new millennium. This is the most active and solvent public today.
Millennials pay a lot of attention to taking care of themselves and the world around them. They are well versed in all available modern technologies and do not part with a smartphone.
Generation Y is very dependent on social media when they choose products and brands. They base their choices on Instagram reviews and Facebook posts. At the same time, unlike other generations, most of them do not want to communicate with salespeople or consultants in stores because they value their time. Thus, it is easier and more convenient for them to buy online.
The values of the millennials are individuality, freedom, idealism, ad self-development. They value quality goods and are willing to pay for them. The Ys cannot live without the Internet, so they receive information through news websites and social media. Smartphones are always with them, so they also shop online over the phone.
Generation Z (Zoomers): Environmental awareness
Gen Z is the youngest generation (2000 – 2012), just entering the solvent age. Despite such a young age, they are the main object of attention of modern marketers and set trends. The main feature of zoomers is a complete immersion online. They live with a smartphone in their hands, understand gadgets and technologies like no one else, and feel very comfortable on the Internet.
This makes the gen Z unique because technological progress is a part of their lives. Because of this they instantly perceive information, do not watch two-hour videos, and avoid longreads. Zoomers’ main sources of information are graphics, video, and audio. However, they have a chance to become the most highly educated generation due to the development of technology.
Generation Z fights for ultra-popular values: gender equality, concern for nature and animals, privacy, and freedom of expression. The values of zoomers are money, prosperity, freedom, comfort, safety, science, art, a healthy lifestyle, and spending time with friends.
Use of Apps Across Generations
Which apps do different generations prefer? The answer may be obvious – younger people may prefer messengers, mobile games, and TikTok, whereas “older” generations would rather use Facebook and YouTube. However, a study by Data.ai revealed some interesting facts about gen X and baby boomers in the United States. According to their report, these generations have seen steady growth in mobile game spending. The US represents a unique market compared to other top mobile gaming markets: games preferred by gen X / baby boomers represent nearly 25% of the top-grossing games, growing each year by 6%. Mobile technologies have enabled gaming to go mainstream and thus serve every age cohort.
Here are also some statistics on apps usage by various generations, according to Data.ai:
- Baby boomers: prefer desktop activities, but still use apps. For example, they use travel apps such as TripAdvisor or Kayak, which cover the full travel experience, simplifying the task of vacation planning. They also actively send emails and thus use traditional mailing apps such as Google Mail.
- X and Y: combine solvency with tech-savviness, therefore prefer retail and fintech apps. Generation Y may also prefer fintech apps with the features of an online community, such as Venmo and Mint.
- Zoomers: the most active users of mobile apps. They prefer messaging, social media, and streaming apps, such as Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitch.
Mobile App Marketing to Different Generations
So how to market your mobile app or game to people of different generations? Let’s find out.
This generation loves permanence. If they like a brand, they will stay with it for many years, even if there is something better nearby. Therefore, it is important to focus on product quality and customer service as well as to be genuine and relevant, but not intrusive. Do not abuse advertising messages. Use emails or SMS as the key communication channel. Be sure to offer promotions and discounts, because this generation like no one else knows how to count money.
Buying with a coupon or promo code is the secret passion of boomers. They actively look for them on the Internet and are happy to use them when they receive them from brands. However, keep in mind that baby boomers do not like to make unnecessary moves to get an offer. Be sure to make your promo codes or special offers easy to use and offer them to join loyalty programs.
Generation X is not as loyal to brands as their parents, so you should constantly remind them of your app by advertising. Talk about the app’s features, competitive advantages, and uniqueness. The “X” will gladly listen to new facts about the product as well as appreciate the opportunity to adapt it to themselves. Specifically, they are willing to listen to the advice of friends, and therefore you should not underestimate the power of referral marketing.
Additionally, the following online marketing strategies work for X:
- Email marketing
- Social media ads (Facebook)
- A clear algorithm of actions (step-by-step instructions before buying a product or service)
Millennials do not trust classic advertising. Reviews of friends and favourite bloggers work best for them. They expect to receive good service from the brand: they are ready to leave negative feedback if they are dissatisfied with the quality. Allow your millennial customers to share their thoughts on your app so you can build a strong emotional bond.
Millennials are looking for emotions and fascinating stories, so they prefer brands that have such stories. Identify what problems your app solves, and how it will make life easier or more complete for Y customers. Deliver your message in short texts and aesthetic images to form a clear idea of future experiences.
This generation likes to be trendy and hype. It is important for them to be at the centre of the universe, so they need constant attention from brands. Give them discounts and arrange contests on social media, otherwise, they will quickly go to competitors. In communication, emphasize the benefits of your app.
In addition, the following online marketing strategies work for Gen Y:
- Social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube)
- Influencer marketing
- Positive reviews
- Environmental friendliness
- Unobtrusive advertising
A zoomer will like your app if a friend or favourite blogger tells them about it. You have to live up to that person’s values and create great content. Forget about longreads: you have a 10-second video on TikTok to capture the attention of Generation Z. Brands should not ignore these young people, because they will become their main customers in the next 5 or 6 years.
Most zoomers have a positive attitude to communication with brands through text messages. This is not surprising. They check notifications up to three times an hour and control the situation: they can read or respond when it is convenient for them.
Generation Z is looking for brands that have the same values as them: only then will they be able to emphasize their identity. And this applies to everything from accessories to food. They are even ready to overpay for it. Thus, your identity should be equally visible not only in the app itself but also in the textual and visual part of the communication. To do this, determine the tone of voice and brand policy.
Zoomers understand what is happening in the world, its environmental, political, and socio-economic problems. For this reason, they usually choose brands that are socially responsible and concerned about the environment. Analyze your app and determine how you could, not globally, but help the planet. Communicate about it – zoomers will appreciate it.
Other strategies to promote your mobile app to Generation Z are as follows:
- Social media advertising (Tiktok, YouTube, Instagram)
- Visual storytelling
- Emphasis on freedom of expression and tolerance
- Social responsibility and authenticity
- Messengers, chatbots, and push notifications
Over to You
Adhering to generational marketing is a choice, not an ultimatum. Nevertheless, it allows you to better understand the audience of your brand, and therefore build effective communication. So learn more about who your audience is, communicate with them, offer what they expect, and your app will have more loyal users and competitive advantage.