JCK Las Vegas: Know How the Generations Differ

On Friday afternoon, Nick Failla, Premier Consulting Innovations, provided a refresher course for jewelers on a topic that’s relevant to every business: generational marketing. In “Harvesting From the Entire Family Tree: A Fresh Look at Generational Marketing,” Failla outlined the specifics of the Mature generation, Baby Boomers, and Generations X and Y and explained how to appeal to each.

The Mature generation, born from 1909-1945, experienced the Great Depression and World War II, making them value hard work and patriotism. They know self-sacrifice and discipline, look up to authority figures, measure success in material terms, and pay cash. Members of the Mature generation will appreciate salespersons who go the extra mile by cleaning their jewelry, opening doors, and taking time to carefully handle and package purchases.

Baby Boomers have experienced prosperous times and possess a sense of entitlement and disdain for tradition. Boomers seek self improvement, accomplishments, and adventure. They’re also considered the most stressed generation in history. Among their concerns are lack of time and fear of aging, and they dislike being made to feel dated—in years and in appearance. Boomers appreciate time-saving initiatives and references to their childhood. That point was not lost on Cadillac when it launched a campaign to rebrand itself as cool to Baby Boomers and used a Led Zeppelin song in advertising.

Boomers want timely assistance and appreciate direction with regard to the latest fashion trends. They also find comfort in phrases like “Everybody has this piece,” said Failla.

Members of Generation X have had their lives shaped by corporate downsizing, broken families, and latchkey childhoods. Their futures aren’t guaranteed, they don’t believe in one-size-fits-all values, they’re cautious about long-term relationships, and they put personal lives before careers. Generation X is techno-savvy and appreciates retro styling and hip packaging. They are concerned about a good standard of living, dislike stereotypes, marketing hype, rigidity, intolerance, and pitches based on status. They crave parodies, excitement, travel, and functional clothing. Failla advises jewelers to offer Generation X one-of-a-kinds. They also appreciate vintage looks. “They want their grandma’s marriage,” observed Failla. Another bit of advice: “Don’t talk at this customer; involve them in the selection process.”

Lastly, Generation Y has more money to spend than previous generations. They’re also influential in their parents’ purchasing decisions, are extremely techno-savvy and brand-conscious, and are ethnically diverse. Their concerns revolve around peer acceptance, lack of money, being disrespected (“Show them large stones,” said Failla. “Don’t make assume they can’t afford them.”), and they resent platitudes and poorly functioning technology. Appeal to Generation Y with humor and great Web sites. Failla referenced Macintosh’s “Mac versus PC” ads as a top example of the kind of marketing that this group will respond to.

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Know Your Generations

Name                          Years of Birth             Numbers                     % of Population

Mature                         1909-1945                   58 million                      20%

Baby Boomers             1946-1964                   83 million                      29.4%

Generation X                1965-1978                   59 million                      20%

Generation Y                1979–Present               81 million                      29%