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  • Writer's pictureLauren Goldberg Zeligson


To reach your audience, you must first understand them. Each generation interacts with content online differently, and if brands want to connect with audiences effectively, they should be familiar with their target demographic’s online preferences and habits. This breakdown will help you serve your audience content that will interest them in the times and places they are most likely to be looking for it.


Gen Z

Born between 1995 and 2015, currently between 4 and 24 years old

The newest generation, Gen Z, prizes mobile-friendliness and seamless transitions between online sources. Content targeting Gen Z should be timely, attractive, streamlined, fast-moving and convenient. They are much more likely to be drawn to high-quality content than to a promotion or deal, so focus on quality over savings. They also like to feel like they are making a difference and will go out of their way to support brands that stand for good causes.

Gen Z’s purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by social media, especially Instagram, and by online content like reviews, unboxing videos and influencer endorsements. If a brand doesn’t have a strong online presence, it might as well not exist to them. Though Gen Z doesn’t depend on email as much as previous generations, they do still use it to interact with brands and make purchasing decisions, so don’t neglect this channel.


Millennials/Gen Y

Born between 1980 and 1994, currently between 25 and 39 years old


The original social media users, this generation grew up with technology and is most active online between 8 p.m. and midnight. Email is more important to millennials than to any other generation and definitely drives their purchasing decisions.

Millennials like to develop bonds with brands and are perhaps the age group most loyal to their preferred brands. They are also the most likely to follow brands on social media and are twice as likely than Gen X and Baby Boomers to communicate with a brand on social media rather than calling or emailing.

Millennials are wary of predatory advertising and look for authenticity and trustworthiness. They don’t want a sales pitch; they want a mutually beneficial relationship. They expect brands to deliver personalized content that is both useful and entertaining. Millennials are heavily influenced by reviews, perhaps because they see them as more candid and therefore more trustworthy. To reach this demographic, focus on the awareness, conversion and delight marketing stages


Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1979, currently between 40 and 54 years old

Like Millennials, this generation most often accesses online content between 8 p.m. and midnight. Instead of forming bonds with brands, Gen Xers pragmatically seek out content that offers them great customer service and good deals. They are the most likely to make online purchases with loyalty or rewards programs. This generation is also very sensitive to content that doesn’t align with their political or religious beliefs, so staying neutral and objective will help you retain opinionated followers.

Members of Gen X prefer to research online and then purchase offline, so if Gen X is your target, it’s more important to focus on awareness than conversion. They respond better than other groups to emails from brands. Surprisingly, Gen Xers are the heaviest users of social media.


Baby Boomers

Born between 1944 and 1964, currently between 55 and 75 years old

Boomers are often most active online in the morning. Even though this generation is not as plugged in to online content as younger demographics, they still engage a lot with the content they enjoy — blogs and infographics, for example. They are increasingly tech-savvy, with smartphone and social media usage still far behind other demographics but steadily rising.

Boomers are less likely to follow and engage with brands on social media, but they do use social media to research products they are considering. They like a mix of promotions and information from brands. Like Gen Xers, they overwhelmingly prefer to shop in stores.

Armed with a general profile of each generation’s online habits and preferences, you can begin to tailor your content to your brand’s target demographic. Pay attention to both peak activity times and to the way your target generation prefers to relate to brands — as a trusted relationship, for example, or as a trendy lifestyle spotlight, or as a conduit for bargains. When you give people the content they want when they want it, and on their preferred channels, they will keep coming back.

Cady Roberts | Belo + Co.

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