“This Is My Generation… Baby!”

“I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)”

Every time I read an article about selling and marketing across the generations, I think of The Who and “My Generation”. While I am not a huge Who fan (although who didn’t love the rock opera Tommy), I think that we all need to consider the wants and needs of each demographic and come up with something that makes each of these segments want to “buy”. So, let’s take a look at each generation and their characteristics:

Silent Generations – 1927 – 1945
Born around, or parented by those of The Great Depression of 1929 and children of the WWII generation; marriage is for life; labor union generation; Korean and Viet Nam War generation; in grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class; readers; the Big-Band/Swing music generation; strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths; disciplined, self-sacrificing, and cautious.

Baby Boomers – 1946 – 1964
The “me” generation; “rock and roll” music generation; ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence; self righteous and self-centered; buy it now and use credit; too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all; the first TV generation; quite conversational and skilled vocal and writer advocates; poor on marital skills…the first divorce generation; begin “gay toleration”; AIDS begins and is first lethal infectious disease in the history of any culture on earth which was not subjected to any quarantine what-so-ever because of a beginning obsession of individual rights prevailing over the common good…especially if it is applicable to any type of minority group; optimistic, driven, team-oriented.

Generation X – 1965 – 1983 (aka “Busters)
Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Viet Nam war and the scoff-law attitudes coming out of the protest times; school problems about drugs; late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents; are iconographic…clothes labels are large and shows of caring (turning out for a worthy-cause rally) are fully sufficient expressions (while government, charities, agencies will see to the work of it); want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy; conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies; short on loyalty and wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples; self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization; computer generation; survivors as individuals; cautious; skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.

Generation Y – 1984 – 2002 (aka Millenials)
Facebook, MySpace, SMS and other instant communication technologies may explain Generation Y’s reputation for being peer oriented and for seeking instant gratification. Generation Y, like other generations, is shaped by the events, leaders, developments and trends of its time. Members of this generation are facing higher costs for higher education than previous generations.

Generation Z – 2003 – Current (aka Digitals)
This group, which today ranges from 11 to 20 years old, has lived their entire life with instant access to mountains of data on any topic that flutters through their imaginations. They’ve never known the frustration or sheer physical effort of rifling through the M-O volume of the encyclopedia to find out about the Magna Carta. They’re technologically savvy and just as likely to spend their time writing and programming video games as simply playing them. But they’re also coming up in a world shaped by 9/11, Columbine and the War on Terror. They have a sense of social justice, philanthropy and maturity that comes with growing up during one of the most severe economic recessions in history.

So, what are we to do and how are we to sell to each of these segments? And who do you sell to? I think it is important to evaluate your hotel, your brand and your location to determine your strategies. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket…. you need to reach cross generation and sell/market to those groups that are appropriate.

Everything you read nowadays points to two common characteristics: women are now more time-pressed than ever before, and they desire unique experiences. We all must appeal to a new age of incredibly harried consumers — who also happen to be women — seeking an exceptional, memorable trip above all else. It is important that we go beyond the simple “girls getaway” or “spa pampering” style of packages — that’s what everyone else is already doing and offer something more memorable. Think: “authentic local experience.” Terms like exotic, adventure, sightseeing, life changing, thrill seeking, travel treasure, hidden gem, bucket list, cultural enrichment, ecotourism and volunteerism can go miles towards expressing the right type of experience-led travel. Is there something in your city that you can capitalize on?

There’s also the wellness route, as many women yearn for active relaxation where they can focus on self improvement, fitness, rejuvenation of body and mind, introspection and learning a new skill.

Another broad category deals with the hard-pressed and rushed nature we live in these days. Convenience, and everything that leads to it, is key. This can be articulated, for instance, through copy denoting how close your property is to the nearest airport or city center. This can also be conveyed through perks that reduce stress and wait times — free Wi-Fi, flexible check-in, complimentary meals, spa offers and so on.”

Happy ‘talking ’bout your generation!


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