Reaching the Matures: The 1st Hump in Your Generational Marketing
By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | May 05, 2010
Okay, consider these three points:
Whom do you think of when you hear the word Doctor? Well, if you are a
member of the Mature generation, you probably think of Dr. Spock. Baby
Boomers lean towards Dr. Strangelove. For, Generation X, it is Dr.
Kevorkian, and for the Millennial generation (sometimes called Generation
Y), Dr. Phil comes to mind, of course.
Say the word gay, and Matures will start singing a line from an old
Christmas carol, "Don't we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la, la la
la." Baby Boomers look to see if someone is coming out of a closet, while
Gen X visualize a Gay-Pride parade led by a cluster of rainbow striped
flags. And Gen Y? Why they envision The Fab Five, -- Kyan, Thom, Jai, Carson
and Ted - stars of Bravo's celebrated TV show, Queer Eye for the Straight
You know you are a Mature if Paris brings to mind a picture of American
armed forces triumphantly liberating the city In World War II. You know you
are a Boomer when Paris represented the dream destination for your
honeymoon. You know you are a customer of Generation X when Paris was
someplace to go for a weekend shopping trip. But you are a customer of
Generation Y when the name Paris is automatically followed by the name
Within these three examples lie the wisdom of an ancient proverb and the genesis of generational marketing for hotels: Men resemble the times more than they do their fathers. Members of a generation are forever connected by virtue of the fact that they shared life-defining experiences during their formative years - world events, natural disasters, economic conditions, politics, and technology. These common experiences created bonds that tie consumers of a generation together into cohorts with similar attitudes, values, and life skills that affect everything from how they spend, what they save, and, yes, even if they stay at your hotel. And for the first time in our history, there are four distinct generations of consumers to whom you are marketing the same product - i.e. your hotel.
The market always evolves to the different needs and values of each generation. For example, Betty Crocker introduced a line of ready to bake cake mixes in the 1950s; they flopped. This was the era of stay-at-home moms - today's Matures. To these women, who grew up during the depression and World War II, sacrifice was a virtue. Anything that was too easy was suspect. Convenience seemed like cheating. So the idea of saying they baked a cake by opening a box and just adding water went against their values. It was foreign to one of their generational markers. Finally, Betty Crocker figured this cohort value out and reformulated the mix to require adding an egg. The new mix succeeded because there was a sense of work; it was in line with their generational values.