The Industrial Marketing Generational Gap


One size does not fit all when it comes to your industrial marketing messages and channels.

Your market can be split a number of different ways – by gender, geography, education, etc. But perhaps the most meaningful split when it comes to effective marketing for industrial manufacturers if by age; more specifically, generational.

There are currently three generations represented within today’s workforce – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Each generation has cultural influences and shared experiences which color their view of the world. Effective industrial marketing is sensitive to biases unique to each generation.

Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964

Baby Boomers envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process. This generation is perhaps a bit self-righteous and self-centered; the first batch of hippies / yuppies.

Baby Boomers are 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, brochures and catalogs.

Generation X: 1965 – 1980

Generation X 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 themselves.

Jay Ehret of offers the following suggestions for marketing to Generation X:

  • Be very clear about your offer. Don’t give them reasons to be skeptical. Give lots of details so it doesn’t look like you are trying to hide anything. Offer a money-back guarantee
  • Give suggestions not rules. Show them some things they might like and let them figure out which works best for them
  • Celebrate their diversity. Avoid references to heritage and tradition

Millennials: 1981 – 2000

Millennials may be the biggest challenge for industrial marketers. Millennials are digital natives. They receive all of their information and most of their socialization from the internet. Because of this, they view the world as a 24/7 place; fast and immediate processing.

Millennials 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.

One size does not fit all when it comes to your marketing messages and channels. Once market segments are identified, tailoring one’s message and delivery to each group becomes key in finding success in your industrial marketing efforts.

Photo credit: The_Warfield via photopin cc

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