How to Best Market to Different Life Stages

Ever wish there was a playbook that outlined all of your customer segments and provided insights on how best to reach them? A recent Mintel study on Lifestage Marketing comes close. While it focuses on the financial services industry, it sheds light on some overall trends you can capitalize on now. We outline them here.

But first a refresher on market segments:

Baby Boomers

Those born from roughly 1947 to 1963 in the aftermath of World War II, one of the most prosperous economic times for our country.

Generation X

Anyone born after the baby boomer generation up until the very early 1980s.

The first to grow up with television, video games and personal computers.


Those born between 1981 and the year 2000. The last generation to be born in the twentieth century and the first to grow up with the Internet.

Here’s what the study found out about these consumers that you could use to craft your marketing strategy:

Confidence is growing

While nowhere near the highs experienced before the Great Recession of 2008, consumer confidence is growing across all three consumer segments. As such, they’re showing a greater propensity to spend with a few caveats.

  • Saving and debt reduction comes before spending.
  • The big financial picture is more important than day-to-day financial responsibilities.

By appealing to the desire to spend wisely with an eye on the future, your business can increase its chances of attracting and retaining consumers across all groups. However, according to the Mintel study, the most successful method for reaching them differs by category:

  • Millennials are more likely to respond to traditional ads, social media and in-person solicitations than Baby Boomers or Generation X.
  • Baby Boomers are less likely to engage with traditional and social media ads.
  • Generation X is more likely to respond to traditional ads and social media than Baby Boomers, but lags behind them and Millennials in website and in-person responsiveness.

Financial services

When it comes to financial services, the Mintel study showed that consumers across all segments find in-person interactions with potential providers more trusting than websites, social media and traditional ads:

  • 40% of Millennials trust in-person interactions the most, followed by websites (29%), social media (22%) and traditional ads (18%).
  • 29% of Gen X trust in-person interactions the most, followed by websites (28%), social media (11%) and traditional ads (9%).
  • 38% of Baby Boomers trust in-person interactions the most, followed by websites (30%), social media (6%) and traditional ads (4%).

If your business has anything to do with financial products, services or planning, keep in mind that there’s no substitute for face-to-face marketing.

Habits are changing

Consumer acceptance of digital devices such as smart phones, handheld devices and tablets continues to grow. Eighty-two percent not only own such devices, but also say they would be willing to use it to conduct financial transactions.

  • As expected, Millennials are the most comfortable with their devices and are the most likely to respond to ads delivered through them.
  • Baby Boomers, while more traditional, show a growing acceptance and gradual shift toward using their devices for commerce.
  • Generation X shows usage habits that are higher than Boomers but lag behind Millennials.

What this means for small business owners is that devices are an established part of the consumer landscape. And they will continue to play a prominent role in the years ahead.

Whether you market to one consumer segment or all three, understanding their changing habits is key to building a long-term customer base.

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