By Vanecia Carr
Director of Customer and Brand Marketing



Let’s face it—promoting your brand is expensive. Whether a brand is a start-up or well established, any marketer, creative or business owner wants to make sure the time and resources are invested correctly to generate the most successful outcome.

Enter generational marketing, or the process of marketing to specific groups of people based on age that share the same preferences and experiences that distinguish them from other generations. The number one goal of any brand is to stand out in an over-saturated marketplace, and generational marketing in one way to do this. By studying the values and nuances of specific generations, one can have a better idea of how to tailor their content and messaging to better resonate with their target market.

Many marketers and creatives might be surprised to learn that print is still the media that creates that critical WOW factor that makes your brand memorable and connected. Regardless of age, print generates a higher sense of brand recall than any other medium.1 While print is the constant in any omni-channel approach, it’s important to remember the nuances of the different generations and how they interact with print in order to get the biggest bang for your brand (and buck).

Baby Boomers
When creating a piece targeting Baby Boomers, keep the tone fun and lively. This generation doesn’t like to think of themselves as growing old, so target their lifestyle, not age. And don’t cut the copy—sifting through vast amounts of information makes them feel like they’ve reached an informed decision.2 A printed piece for this group should be full of in-depth explanations accompanied by an ample number of stats, charts and graphs explaining every attribute, and what sets your brand apart. Boomers love competition, so don’t shy away from comparing yourself to a rival brand and showcasing why you’re the optimal choice. And be sure to showcase your credentials. While other generations look to recommendations from friends or online reviews, Boomers prefer testimonies from experts.3

One last note—Boomers like taking their time when it comes to making a major purchase.2 In addition to reading through vast amounts of information, Boomers will also want to connect to customer service and ask questions. If your brand has built an outstanding customer service platform, be sure to make that a focus.

Generation X
Largely ignored by marketers, those in Generation X are caught in the middle between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials—and often end up being caretakers for their aging parents and older children that end up moving back home. Due to this (and debt from college loans), the average person from this generation has less wealth than their parents did 25 years ago.4 Members of Generation X tend to be huge savers, more financially conservative than their parents and children and surprisingly more optimistic and prone to ingenuity. In fact, 55% of start-ups are created by members of this generation4 and they boost the highest rate of brand loyalty at 70%.5

A printed piece targeting Generation X should focus on value—what about your brand makes it the best, even if it isn’t the cheapest option? Also, keep it informative.5 Provide the Gen X reader with tips on how they can save in other areas if they choose to invest in your product. When it comes to tone and design, realism works best.6 Show imagery and photography they mirror in their everyday life, instead of an unreachable advertising fantasy. Celebrate family, and don’t forget to showcase diversity. This generation values inclusion and transparency.7 Think about recent company achievements that can bring these traits into focus and show that your values align.

Millennials are currently the largest group in the labor force. By 2020, it’s estimated that Millennials will have spending power of more than $1.4 trillion.8 Due to their size, we suggest identifying the segment of this generation that will deliver a high ROI for a limited, highly targeted spend (download Domtar’s Print, Digital or Both? How Brands Can Reach Multiple Generations for more information on what we refer to as The Millennial Divide).

Like their Generation X parents, Millennials value honesty and realism.4 Many brands, such as Airbnb, Red Bull, California Closets and Domtar, have had success in building loyalty with this generation through the creation of a magazine. After all, the amount of time spent with print (an average of 45 minutes with magazines and 30 minutes with catalogs) sells itself.9 This type of printed content marketing can work wonders in appealing to this generation—if done correctly. First, ditch the hard sell. The main articles should tie to your brand mantra, but not function as a sales tool for your products. Instead, flex your storytelling prowess and feature inspirational thought leaders that are linked to the values embodied by your brand. Next, ditch the stock photography. This generation would rather see real people in real settings10 in advertising, not picture-perfect models on a staged set. And when designing, go for large image layouts with little copy. Images are a necessity when communicating to and engaging with this demographic.10

Whatever you do, make sure your brand stays authentic and true to itself. Millennials are great detectives when it comes to deciphering what feels genuine versus what feels like an advertisement.

Generation Z
Generation Z is a true digital native. This generation does not know a time where iPads, Amazon and the internet did not exist. Because of this, it’s often assumed that print doesn’t appeal to this group, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Generation Z has a high appreciation for physical media and see print as more authoritative and authentic.11

When creating a printed piece for Generation Z, don’t forget printing techniques. Print is already considered unique to this group, but the addition of an emboss, foil or coating can make your printed piece a showstopper this generation is likely to hold on to for a long period of time. Second, experiences are important to Generation Z—73% prefer to purchase from brands that use personal information in order to create a more relevant experience.9 The use of variable imaging to show products related to past purchases is well worth the effort. Another strong print tactic for Generation Z is to use augmented reality in combination with a catalog to provide a virtual experience for a consumer. IKEA and Lego have been successful in employing these tactics with their audience.

With a smart marketing plan and targeted tactics, you can easily tailor your communications to reach and build loyalty with each generation and successfully tap into their purchasing power.
Hungry for more information on generational marketing? Visit download Domtar’s Print, Digital or Both? How Brands Can Reach Multiple Generations.

An accomplished marketer, Vanecia Carr is currently Director of Customer and Brand Marketing at Domtar, a paper and forest products company based in South Carolina. Vanecia has held a variety of ascending positions at Domtar, including Director of Marketing, Printing & Publishing; Product Manager, Printing Papers; and Sales Service Team Lead, Business Papers.


1 Prepared for MPA by Millward Brown Digital. The Print Campaign Analysis, 2015.
2 Leone, Jim. Five Tips for Effective Marketing to Baby Boomers., 2017.
3 Meyer, Raeanne. Baby Boomers Show More Trust in Print Advertising Than Online Ads., 2016.
4 Martin, Anna Sofia. The Undetected Influence of Generation X., 2016.
5 O’Connor, Lynn. Look to Generation X to See the Future of Health Care., 2017.
6 Ruggles, Aaren. Remembering the Forgotten: How to Market to Generation X., 2016.
8 Jenkins, Jay. The Future of the World in 9 Facts (Hint: It’s All About Millennials)., 2014.
9 Donovan, Brenna. 25 Direct Marketing Statistics Prove Direct Mail Works., 2014.
10 James, Daniel. Picture This: Why Millennials Love Images in Marketing., 2017.
11 Brown, Nicholas. Generation Z and the Future of Print Marketing., 2017.

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