Marketing to the Generations: Neil Howe Breaks it Down

Generational expert and author Neil Howe presented the do's and don'ts of marketing to the generations
By By Sara Zailskas, Assistant Managing Editor | December 31, 2008

Each generation has its quirks. Generational expert and author Neil Howe broke down the generations and how to market to them in his keynote presentation at the fall Professional Builder Benchmark and Avid Leadership Conference.

Here’s a snapshot of what he said. His presentation is worth downloading; he describes each group’s preferences in habits in detail. Check it out by going to and clicking on “View Presentations.”

Who Are They? Do Don’t
G.I. Generation This group, age 85 or older, survived the Great Depression and World War II. It has a strong sense of community and civic pride. Emphasize age-own groups and discounts — they love discounts. Forget to talk about peer-togetherness. This is the generation that loves age-specific activities.
Silent Generation Ages 67-84, this group values security, trading up and the idea of an active-adult community. Balance security, expertise and community with openness, diversity and options Do anything to imply they’re senior citizens.
Baby Boomers This year, boomers will be 49-66. They have less civic trust and value individuality. Sell technology. Stress informality, tradition and the “story.” Sell on price or anything “developed.” And don’t expect to deal with traditional retired people either.
Generation X This generation of 28-48-year-olds is practical, economical and self-directed. Use high-tech, cutting-edge marketing tools and talk about location, efficiencies and ROIs. Go with conventional tactics or assume anything about them.
Millenials This group, ages 27 and younger, is team-oriented, sheltered, conventional and high-achieving. They’re “special.” Treat them as VIPs and recruit their parents to your cause. Make them feel part of a team and take interest in their success. Package anything as a McJob. And please don’t forget the technology.


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