Print Ads for Millennials, Gen X’s, and Baby Boomers

Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers speak different languages and have different expectations and print marketing should directly address their needs.

Generational marketing means understanding the values and behaviors of people at all different ages. Understanding your target audience is critical to good marketing. Experts will confirm each generation interacts with businesses and print advertising differently.

Millennials Look For Themselves in Print Ads

Businesses employing print advertising need to speak to each of these generational groups using their own voice. When creating print ads for Millennials, Gen x, and Baby Boomers, different rules apply, and we’ve broken down how to craft the most effective print advertising for each demographic.

  • What is generational marketing and why is it important?
  • Who is generation x?
  • Who are millennials?
  • Who are the baby boomers?
  • How to use generational marketing to increase your ROI.

What is Generational Marketing in Print Ads?

Generational marketing is defined as a marketing approach segmented to different cohorts of people born within a specific span of time. These people share a comparable age and life stage and grew up through particular events, trends and developments. As a marketer, it is important to communicate effectively with each generation in order to build familiarity and trust with consumers. Recognizing the shared values and common behaviors of different generations can streamline and improve the success of your marketing strategy. 

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How to Print Ads for Generation X?

Portrait of happy mid adult man sitting on sofa at home.

Generation X’s are individuals born between 1966-1980. With a total of 7.2 million Gen X-ers residing in Canada, they make up almost 20% of the population. They are the first to grow up with the internet in their lives but still value physical marketing. Research shows 46% keep promotional mail pieces for future reference and 84% use a physical method to follow promotions.  

Gen X likes testimonials and reviews. They view such print ads favorably and marketers can print the sentiment expressed by other real consumers to build trust with this demographic. The testimonials should be from other people who are obviously Gen X.  Don’t forget to make sure these same product reviews are displayed in Google searches (which also benefits your organic ranking) and cements trust in your brand should the recipient see the same text on your site and on Google. Additionally, save space at the bottom for a thank you message. “Thank you for taking the time to review our products.” 

The oldest Gen X are 55 and the youngest are 40, and they're at their highest-earning years, approaching the apex of their profession. This demographic makes the most household and company decisions. They should be presented with logical choices, high value offers and this is the age group most impressed with security and business longevity. They are raising families and so their values have changed to favour predictable outcomes and would choose reliability over spontaneity. Limited time offers are not as effective as two-for-one or bonus deals. 

How to Print Ads for Millennials?

Young couple enjoy shopping together

Millennials are born between 1981-2000, and totaling 9.6 million in Canada. They make 26% of the population. You may think the only way to market to millennials is through digital marketing? Millennials perceive themselves as system-disruptors and 'world changers' which is particularly relevant when it comes to women and gender roles, they are on average highly educated, smart, and ambitious.

Despite being the most technically savvy demographic, 81% of Millennials will use a physical marketing product when following a promotion. When messaging millennials directly, it's important to take a hybrid approach and employ a mixture of direct mail and digital marketing. Coupons with QR codes, social media addresses and web addresses can lead people to online offers and add complexity which can heighten younger peoples' respect and trust in the brand. The featured images in should display other young people in cool yet recognizable settings. Young people are like everyone else and they study faces. They will take more interest in print ads where they see themselves or figures with whom they can relate. Millennials pay more attention to holiday and seasonal messaging is particularly effective, but when targeting them directly, ad designers should endeavour to create a wholly new and fresh appearance that feels unique and undiscovered. 

Millennials are a generation of social influencers and socially influenced, where millionaires are made on Instagram and YouTube and one in five teenagers has their own channel. Social buying is strong and can be referenced in print advertising with FOMO messaging - Fear of Missing Out which can appear as limited time offers or 'while supplies remain'. All purchases are 74% more likely to be made by word-of-mouth recommendation (including 43% from direct social media referrals) than any other purchase decision driver. Where it used to be one friend recommending a product to an individual friend, nowadays a quick status update can broadcast a recommendation to thousands of consumers. Social media addresses can and should be present on all print media offers.

How to Print Ads for Baby Boomers?

Healthy aged woman sitting on the sofa

Baby boomers are anyone born between 1946 to 1965 with 9.6 million Canadians comprising 26% of the population. Direct mail is the preferred way of marketing to this group as 73% look at paper flyers to create their shopping list. This group is more technologically savvy than some may think, but too many emails can overwhelm which can lead to high unsubscribe rates. Baby boomers stay highly engaged with traditional media and enjoy the tangible nature of direct mail. 

Most baby boomers are retired and ready to enjoy the best years of their lives. When creating your marketing message to address these people, lead with value messaging. Explain how your product or service benefits them directly and their age group in general. Detail how you expect to positively impact their lives and make their day-to-day existence easier, safer, or healthier.

Baby boomers are the largest generation ever born in this country, so they are used to having a lot of competition. They expect to see your firm's value discriminator - what sets you apart from your competition. They want to know how doing business with you can give them a competitive advantage. Furthermore, they expect great service. Baby boomers grew up in an age where customer service really meant something and they will likely only give repeat business to a firm which met and exceeded their initial expectations.

How to use generational marketing in print ads?

Understanding each generation’s needs and wants can help you better target your ideal customer and therefore create more opportunities for sales. 

If you are looking for ways to reach your target generation but are not sure where to start, contact your local DRMG representative today! In the meantime download our easy-to-read infographic for a quick tip sheet to reference when implementing generational marketing strategies


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