Bridging the generational gap

It may seem unlikely that Baby Boomers and Millennials share any commonalities. We hear a lot about the differences between the two generations and what they value. One of the most notable is technology. Two of the biggest changes to how the world works occurred as Millennials were growing up — the development of the Internet and the smartphone. AIMsights Group, an international marketing consulting firm, compared the creation of the Internet and the smartphone to the development of the Gutenberg press. It has been that significant.

However, despite the differences, both groups represent a large buying power. The 80 million Baby Boomers control 70 percent of the U.S.’s disposable income, but the 86 million Millennials are driving spending growth as they start to shop for themselves and their families.


Marketing to both at once

To market to both generations at once, it’s important to focus on value. This is about quality and perception as much as it is about price point. The perception of a product matters, which leads us to the next divergence — food. While Boomers are focusing on better-for-you items, Millennials are all about gourmet and trends like gluten-free. Many times these two ideas can be the same food item, whether that’s an arugula salad with homemade blue cheese dressing or a sophisticated (and high priced) sandwich on pretzel bread.

Don’t be afraid that technology will alienate either group. According to the AIM Insights, this is the first time in history that it’s not just the older generation teaching the younger one. The Millennials have a specific skill set that the Baby Boomers don’t always have. The two groups are educating each other, giving them a cross over that no two other generations can really claim.


Selling service to Millennials

Operators also need to consider Millennials as decision makers, not just as customers. Many are moving up to management positions and gaining more responsibility.

It’s been said that Baby Boomers like personal service. They prefer in-person meetings in order to gauge a provider’s character. This is much like the skeptical Millennial, who is online checking reviews and skimming a company Website before making any purchasing decision. The Millennials are interested in authenticity and not being stereotyped.

Now, I’m not trying to claim that Millennials and Baby Boomers are the same. However, there are some similarities you can use when crafting your sales program to target both groups.