ROCK OF AGES, PART II:
THE MATURES AND GENERATION X
Fancy ads and inflated claims won't sway either group
A book by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman called Rocking the Ages,
The Yankelovich Report on Generational Marketing (Harper Business, a
division of Harper Collins Publishers) explains how to market to three age
groups: the Matures, the Boomers and Generation X. Last month we covered
the authors' spin on Boomers. This month we look at Matures and Gen X.
Born between 1909 and 1945, these folks were shaped by The Great Depression
and World War II. Economic turmoil, material deprivation and commitment
to survival instilled in them core values such as hard work, self-sacrifice,
teamwork and conformity in reaching common goals.
Today, the Matures can be encouraged to spend on a treat such as jewelry
by emphasizing it's a reward for a lifetime of hard work and self-sacrifice.
Many Matures are quite wealthy as a result of early saving and careful spending,
a fact noted in last year's best-seller The Millionaire Next Door
(Longstreet Press) by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.
Like Stanley and Danko, the Yankelovich authors say Matures are generous
toward their children and grandchildren. So jewelry gifts for the younger
generation or pieces bought for themselves with heirloom value in mind may
well be the way to get these self-sacrificers to buy. But no matter who
they buy for, Matures want high quality at the lowest possible price. These
folks will never be careless spenders.
Gen X'ers, born after 1964, grew up with more uncertainty than Baby Boomers.
Divorced parents, AIDS and crack cocaine all became major problems and have
made them skeptical about the future. They're more cautious in their spending
and less trusting of advertising. This generation despises being slotted
into a specific "market group."
What does attract them are products and communications that refer to
many cultural time periods. This is the "Nick at Night" generation
- they watched Mary Tyler Moore toss her hat in the air 20 years after her
show debuted and wore '70s styles in ironic homage.
Jewelry combining references to past design styles, such as antique-looking
wedding rings, do well with this generation. But such pieces aren't reproductions
- they contain aspects of modern style that make for an eclectic mix. This
penchant for mixed styling, say the authors, comes from this generation's
core value - a great respect for diversity - and its surfing of the Internet,
which brings many design and cultural influences before their eyes.
Communications to Gen X consumers should be irreverent, savvy and visual.
Be honest; these are the most practiced viewers of ads ever born, and they
abhor the hard-sell or getting snowed. Yet they're avid consumers. Their
skepticism does cause them to check out products, most of the time via the
Internet. So your on-line site should be a mix of product information and
great art. (And remember you'll increasingly find a lot of Boomers there
too). Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.