Commentary

Should Mobile Marketers Rethink Consumers' Age Differences?

Given the immense changes wrought by the digital age, marketers should rethink the way they’ve traditionally distinguished between consumers of different generations.

That’s the novel premise of a new report from Boston Digital, “How Consumer Age Impacts Mobile Behavior,” which found that there are increasingly more similarities than differences between the generations.

“Businesses can’t afford to base their marketing strategies on outdated ideas of how age groups behave,” Peter Prodromou, president of the digital agency, suggests in the new report.

Rather than Z, X, millennials, and the like, Prodromou thinks we should start thinking about every consumer of today’s mix of media and technology as the “Impulse Generation.”

“We’re one Impulse Generation, where everyone is driven by fast decision-making, constant connectedness, high expectations, and short attention spans,” he said. “Companies need to bake this reality into their marketing strategies.”

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The fact is that most marketing research shows significant differences between generations, and brands would be doing themselves an enormous disservice by ignoring these distinctions.

However, Prodromou is making an interesting point, and it could actually be that consumer behaviors and sentiments are becoming more homogeneous as digital technologies become more established.

Among other similarities, Boston Digital found that 60% of Generation Z and 59% of boomers are now making online purchases often or very often.

And, while younger consumers continue to dominate newer media channels, many older folks are now quite at home on, say, Instagram.

Indeed, 31% of boomers now report spending time on Instagram. This is far less than the 76% of Gen Z, 65% of millennials, and 52% of Gen X, but it’s still a significant share.

Meanwhile, showing the most parallels between generations, 56% of millennials and 50% of Generation X said they make purchases on their mobile devices often or all the time.

For both generations, the most commonly viewed types of content were social media, shopping and news -- in that order.  

They also purchase items including groceries and technology at similar rates. For example, 29% of Millennials and 30% of Generation X say they usually purchase groceries online, while 65% of millennials and 57% of Generation X say they usually purchase technology online.

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