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Effectively Communicating with 3 Generations in Industrial Marketing | Manufacturing Marketing

Effectively Communicating with 3 Generations in Industrial Marketing

industrial marketing by generation

To be successful, market to each generation on their terms.

There are currently three generations represented within today’s workforce that are the primary focus for industrial marketers:

  • Baby Boomers
  • Generation X
  • Millennials

Each generation has cultural influences and shared experiences which color their view of the world. Effective marketing is sensitive to biases unique to each generation.

The list of characteristics below is an edited version from an article written by Dr. Jill Novak, professor at Texas A&M University, “The Six Living Generations in America.” The following comments are my own and is a sampling of how to use this generational information for your industrial marketing.

Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964

  • Envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process
  • The first TV generation
  • “Me” generation – self-righteous and self-centered; Hippies / Yuppies
  • Optimistic, driven, team-oriented – positive about authority, hierarchical structure and tradition

Marketing to Boomers: Not surprising, this group is the slowest and latest to adopt new technology. They need to know what it will do and why they need it prior to even trial use. B2B trade magazines are a viable method to communicate with Baby Boomers. Traditional materials delivered digitally are effective: white papers, case studies.

Generation X: 1965 – 1980

  • Raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives
  • Latch-key kids grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents
  • Entrepreneurial, skeptical, unimpressed with authority
  • Self-reliant survivors as individuals

Marketing to Generation X: This group has always been in the shadow of the Baby Boomers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they listen to marketing in the same way as Baby Boomers. They focus on what is in it for them. Websites are their primary sources of information. They will do their own online research.

Millennials: 1981 – 2000

  • Digital natives – they have never known a world without computers
  • Get all of their information and most of their socialization from the Internet
  • Raised with omnipresent helicopter parents
  • Optimistic and focused
  • Respect authority
  • Feel enormous academic pressure
  • Prefer to work in teams
  • World as a 24/7 place; fast and immediate processing.

Marketing to Millennials: Also referred to as Generation Y, they have always been in a digital world and prefer digital communication. They learn new technology by diving in and using it. They don’t need instructions or manuals. Twitter and texting are natural forms of communication; if you want to interact with them they expect you to play by their rules. These are your young engineers. They aren’t going to read a trade magazine, they will find you online.

Target your messaging and the delivery method to your audience. Speak to each generation differently by choosing the appropriate technology and by offering appropriate information. The result is multiple forms of the same general message, customized for the chosen media. Being sensitive to how each group prefers to interact with media and marketing messages will allow for greater communication. Isn’t that the whole point? 

Please feel free to weigh in with your personal opinions through the comment’s section below.

Click on the following title to read Dr. Novak’s article, “The Six Living Generations in America.”

photo credit: herzogbr via photopin cc

4 Responses to “Effectively Communicating with 3 Generations in Industrial Marketing”

  1. says:

    This unique blog, “Effectively communicating with 3 generations
    in industrial marketing | Manufacturing Marketing” was in
    fact great. I am printing out a replicate to present to my
    personal associates. Thank you-Kasha

  2. Bob Parina says:


    Thanks for your comment and for visiting.


  3. backbohne says:

    It is always good to be reminded of where you are personally in this this spectrum and relate that to where others are coming from. I am an Xer and am juggling the the communication gap between BBs and Ys. As a marketer and problem solver, this proves a challenge. Thanks for quick recap and pointers.

  4. Bob Parina says:

    Thanks for your comment, Deb.

    Technology is a blessing and a curse. Now that we have the power to narrowly target our messaging, we need to consider these finer points – like which generation is this message meant to target? Answering that question then determines the message. More work initially, but better results ultimately.