Try to imagine life without lightsaber wars or baby Yoda Halloween costumes. It’s not a happy thought.
Few icons in pop culture have endured quite like Star Wars fandom. The film franchise has remained relevant for more than four decades. On May 25, 1977, “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was released—the iconic film with a blockbuster appeal that’s endured for generations, spanning six original films, a new film trilogy, a hit streaming series, with more shows, spinoffs, and prequel series in the works.
Star Wars has adapted and evolved, with storylines that connect with new generations of fans who experience the brand in ways that are meaningful to them. As brand marketers, it’s a lesson we can all learn: How do we build a dedicated, multi-generational fanbase? The answer tracks with Star Wars wisdom: Branding success lies in building on our original storyline— adapting and aligning our products, services, and messaging to meet our audience right where they are.
In today’s ever-evolving world, brands face the constant challenge of staying relevant to new generations of consumers. Each year, we’re tasked with connecting with new consumers with different values, preferences, and expectations than the previous generation. So, to be successful, it’s crucial to adapt your marketing program to appeal to these consumers.
Understanding your audience.
To successfully market your brand to different generations by making effective brand connections, it is essential to understand each generation’s unique characteristics and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of profiles for target customers across all generations.
1. Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
A generation that values tradition, stability, and reliability. They are also the wealthiest generation in history and have significant purchasing power. When marketing to baby boomers, focusing on quality, longevity, and value is important. Traditional advertising channels such as TV and print ads are still effective for this generation, but digital marketing is also becoming increasingly important.
2. Generation X (1965-1980)
A group that values independence, authenticity, and individuality. They are known for being skeptical of authority and traditional marketing tactics. When marketing to Gen X, it is essential to be authentic and transparent. They appreciate a straightforward and no-nonsense approach to marketing and are more likely to do their research before making a purchase decision. Digital marketing channels like social media and email are effective.
3. Millennials (1981-1996)
Millennials value experiences, authenticity, and social responsibility. They are also the largest generation in history and significantly impact the economy. When marketing to millennials, focusing on social media and other digital marketing channels is essential. They are also more likely to engage with brands that have a social conscience and are committed to positively impacting the world.
4. Generation Z (1997-2012)
Gen Z is highly diverse and values authenticity, diversity, and inclusivity. They are also the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age and are very tech-savvy. Focusing on social media and other digital marketing channels is essential when marketing to Generation Z. They are also more likely to engage with brands that are socially responsible, take a stand on environmental issues, and have a solid online presence.
5. Generation Alpha (2010-present)
The youngest generation they have brand influence and purchasing power beyond their years: They are the most materially endowed and the most technologically savvy generation ever. Also, the most diverse generation in history, Gen Alpha seeks representation and inclusivity and prioritizes helping others. They are heavily influenced by technology, born when the iPad was launched, and Instagram was created.
Marketing to new generations year over year.
After you identify whom you’re targeting and what their behaviors and preferences are, you can incorporate specific brand touches to appeal to these new generations of consumers using these tips:
1. Keep up with trends.
Staying current with the latest trends and incorporating them into your marketing strategies is necessary for attracting younger audiences. Whether using influencer marketing or promoting your brand’s eco-responsible practices, staying on top of trends shows that your brand is relevant and in touch with current interests.
2. Use storytelling.
Younger generations often prioritize authenticity and connection with brands. Sharing the story behind your brand, whether it’s the history or the inspiration, can create a more meaningful connection with your audience.
3. Embrace social media.
Social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, are where younger audiences spend significant time. Creating engaging content and interacting with your followers on the proper channels can establish a strong brand presence on these platforms and increase brand awareness.
4. Be inclusive.
Diversity and inclusion are important values for younger generations. So, ensure your brand is inclusive in its messaging, imagery, and products to appeal to a broader audience and build a positive brand reputation.
5. Create experiences.
Younger generations crave experiences that are unique and memorable. You can create a lasting impression and build brand loyalty by creating experiential marketing campaigns, such as pop-up shops, interactive events, or product demos.
6. Listen and adapt.
Listen to feedback from your audience and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. Incorporating—and promoting—customer feedback shows that you value customer options, which resonates with all generations.
Final thoughts on brand marketing across generations.
Marketing a brand year over year to new generations of consumers requires a balance. To get it right, you need to understand your customer and their preferences first. While you must be adaptable in reaching each audience segment, always be authentic to your brand. By staying on top of trends, using tools like social media and experiential marketing, you can make genuine connections organically, sparking a new generation of love for your brand.