Posts Tagged ‘Generation Z’

The Marketing Words That Work With Each Generation

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Words That Work For Each Generation BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR Software Marketing Millennials Generation X Demographics can be a slippery slope – combining 15 to 20 years’ worth of people into one neat category? Not so accurate. As a result marketers and public relations pros alike would be remiss to think that one style of language will resonate across the generations.

There’s a lot more that goes into messaging – like targeting and segmentation – but putting that aside for this post, let’s take a look at words and language styles that generally speak to each generation.

Generation Z

Born between 1995 and 2010, the earliest part of Gen Z is coming into its own purchasing power. These tech savvy multitaskers also respond to discussion about sustainability and green products. They’re also constantly adopting the latest technology and want to know what’s next. Gen Z also cares about privacy (hence their tendency toward ephemeral social media like SnapChat), having control over their own preference and security settings, and tend to prefer visuals over text and short, bite-sized content.

Generation Y/ Millennials

Ah, the elusive target market unicorn. It seems everyone wants to market to Millennials but no one can agree on how. Well, that might be because marketers tend to lean too heavily on stereotypes instead of reality. Some Millennials are go-getters with steady jobs who carefully cultivate their own brand, while others are trapped by economic circumstance: overeducated, underemployed, and not as financially independent as they’d like to be.

A lot of millennials respond to off-beat, sarcastic humor, social awareness, and freedom. Being aware of so many social and civil rights issues, using inclusive language and imagery is especially important for resonance, and Millennials like to hear words like “global citizen,” “diversity,” and “community.”

Generation X

GenXers tend to be skeptical, especially of the government (which is what growing up during Watergate and the Vietnam War will do to you), so they’re not into hype. They’re also protective of their personal time, so Anne Loehr recommends using phrases like “It’s your time … “, and “You will benefit by …”   Be real, refrain from being overly optimistic, and since Gen X likes data, emphasize results.


Since Baby Boomers control 70 percent of disposable income in the U.S., it’s pretty important to get your messaging right. Like all generations, they like humor, but prefer it to be clever and not mean-spirited.

Boomers like positivity and are enjoying their economic freedom, so provide options and create positive messaging instead of using the word “don’t.” Try to include messages that explain why you understand Boomers, how you make their life easier, or how you make their life better. Boomers tend to be idealistic and ambitious, so using legacy-oriented language, a bit of sentimentality, and lots of information will most help your message resonate.


Traditionalists, born 1925ish to 1945, grew up in the Great Depression and WWII, so they’re frugal, traditional, and loyal – once you’ve earned that loyalty. Emphasizing a company’s legacy, stability, reputation, and trustworthiness are all important.

Words like “earned,” “honor,” “respect,” “reliable,” “value,” and “responsibility” all resonate with Traditionalists.

So when you’re writing your blogs, releases, or messages, be sure to keep in mind who your audience is and what language they respond to. And also remember that demographics are very general, so further targeting and segmenting will help you hone your message further and more carefully curate your words.


Branding for Digital Natives: iGen Comes of Age

Friday, September 13th, 2013
Image courtesy of Stefan Pollack

Image courtesy of Stefan Pollack

More than half of the world’s population is under 30. That means 50 percent of the world’s population was born after the year 1982. Of that, nearly 20 percent of the world’s population was born after 1994 and they were born at such an astonishing rate that USA Today called it the next “Baby Boom.” As of last year, the oldest member of this generation has voted in their first presidential election, and many younger members are on their way to college. They don’t know a world without smartphones, have never used a card catalog, consider email antiquated and have no use for printed books.

This year, and every year thereafter, digital natives will be entering the marketplace in droves. By 2020, this next generation will be adult consumers. We are past the age of Gen Y. It’s time to take a close look at the next generation—those born in the mid-nineties or after—and one that most have been calling Generation Z.  I call them iGen.

Sure, that’s a nod to Apple, but why not? Whether or not Apple is the poster child for completely turning our world mobile and ushering in mainstream social media, or whether it is just took advantage of a wave that was already cresting, the iPhone and iPad symbolize the great communications disruption of the past decade.  Another disruption is here, and we need to consider what this disruption means for brands and, in particular, how we are going to communicate to a generation of consumers that have known no other world.

In my more than 25 years in public relations, I’ve witnessed tremendous change. The website arrived, the Internet rose, the dot-com busted, the 24-hour cable news was born and the information age dawned. I saw how mobile phones and email impacted the immediacy of communication and tore down geographical borders. But in all that time, I have never witnessed such an enormous disruption that fundamentally changed how brands and consumers communicate and, more importantly, the media’s role in this process.

iGen is a generation born with consumer-driven capitalism at its core and altruism at its heart. Never before has there been a generation so globally plugged in and so informed. We need to recognize that their patterns and behaviors are opposed to anything that has come before them and that they basically ignore messages from brands, unless those brands have earned admittance to their infinite touch points. It is simply in their DNA to listen to their trusted network, rather than controlled messages from brands.

iGen literally has digital appendages that give them, in real time, anything they want. It no longer takes time to earn knowledge. Entertainment is no longer confined to particular times or places. Perhaps most importantly to us: consumers no longer have to listen to brands. Consumers only listen to other consumers. This is the new normal—our age after the communication disruption.

The challenge then is how to be relevant in this new environment, how to leverage influencers and how to become a brand that iGen loves.  We need to brace ourselves and be very, very smart.

Stefan Pollack Stefan Pollack (@StefanPollack) is president of The Pollack PR Marketing Group, an integrated public relations and marketing firm with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Since 2001, he has taught as an adjunct professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Stefan Pollack’s book, Disrupted, From Gen Y to iGen: Communicating With the Next Generation is out now. To learn more about Disrupted visit