What Generation Gap? Ageless Marketing = Generation Everyone.

Here’s a great article that discusses the idea of Generation E (Generaton Everyone). The author argues “will the idea of a “generation gap” eventually atrophy into obsolescence?” He’s talking about ageless marketing.

His examples include: moms and daughters with matching Ugg boots, Juicy Couture sweatsuits, Abercrombie hoodies and Coach handbags. Fathers and sons comparing fantasy football rankings on matching iPhones or killing precious productivity hours on YouTube. Teachers and students sipping from matching Starbucks latte cups or ordering the same items from Pinkberry. Moms and daughters rooting feverishly for their favorite “American Idol” contestants or shaking their heads in utter disgust at the shameless and hygienically dubious conduct of the latest batch of “The Real World” participants. Moms and their adults friends, with or without their daughters, attending Jonas Brothers concerts, or standing in line for midnight premiere showings of the brow-furrowing fest that is the “Twilight” franchise. Aunts and nieces perusing the same Kiehl’s or MAC products. Uncles and nephews cracking open cans of Red Bull. Grandparents, parents and their children conversing freely on Facebook or Skype.

These companies have successfully created branding stories that resonate across a spectrum of ages because they have largely ignored age-based demographic “insights” as they were, and instead focused on harnessing societal (the blurring of the generation/cultural gap) and technological (the desire to be ever more connected) trends to their benefit. So, in this new reality, what are the implications for brands and their consumer messaging?

The teenager/young-adult demographic, to refer to just one target audience, is traditionally wary of products that are specifically marketed to it. Indeed, the consumer product landscape is littered with companies that tried to position themselves and their products as cool/urban/edgy, only to ultimately be rejected by the target consumer base. See Palm’s Zoomer, Zima, Zune, as well as Polaroid, Ecko, Pro-Keds or Pony (which was rejected pretty much immediately after relaunching).

Appealing to Generation E requires a massive shift away from the standard “What are they looking for in a product?” to “What does this brand say about me as a person?” And in order to answer such a profound question, one cannot hope to rely solely on traditional qualitative/quantitative marketing data any longer. Successful brands will have to:

The author concludes that marketers should focus efforts on brand values and attributes, but be smart with advertising and photography. Don’t visually skew your brand toward a specific target audience. In fact, on your website or collateral material, consider showing many age groups interacting with your product. Or, keep it simple and focus purely on (attractive) product shots, with no people in them (Pinkberry, Starbucks and Coach, for example, display only their products).

This is the future of marketing.

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