Age vs. Generation: Choose the correct metric for marketing and advertising

A young girl staring at an Apple Computer
“…next generation” by zeitfaenger.at, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

AdWeek recently published an article and infographic comparing what Millennials and Generation Z want from brands. In reality, reports like this are a comparison of age groups, not generations, and should be used only to impact decisions right now, not long-term.

As consumers age, their brand preferences, media preferences, privacy concerns, priorities, etc. change. So, to say a 13 year old’s preference for YouTube and a 30 year old’s preference for Amazon is because of what generation they belong to isn’t accurate. More likely, these preferences are based on their age.

Are generational studies useful? Yes! If you are communicating with the generation right now, the AdWeek Infographic and Deep Focus study can be incredibly helpful in developing marketing and advertising campaigns (although I’d like to see a larger sample size).

Generational reports also provide some interesting indicators as to how their preferences will change over time for predictive purposes. But to do this accurately, you’d have to look and see how previous generations have changed over time as they aged for comparisons.

As with all market intel, think about your end goal, and then work backwards from there to find the right intel to use.

Photo: “…next generation” by zeitfaenger.at, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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