Associations need a successful marketing strategy in order to thrive. It shapes your brand's identity, communicates your values and services, and fosters engagement with your members.

Between ever-evolving social media strategies, to incorporating AI and VR into advertising campaigns, knowing how to market your association can seem overwhelming. There's no shortage of marketing strategies available to use to help reach your intended audience. But those audiences can be diverse, and choosing what strategy is best for you can make or break your growing association.

A multi-generational marketing strategy tailors specific marketing efforts to the distinct characteristics, preferences and behaviors of different generations and age groups. It recognizes that these various age groups — baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials and Gen Z — have unique experiences, values and communication styles. This approach acknowledges and takes into account technological advancements, consumer attitudes, shifts in culture and even historical events when creating a strategy.

Bridging the gap and striking a balance

One of the primary reasons your association should embrace multi-generational marketing strategies is to bridge the generation gap. Often, differing generations — such as baby boomers and Gen Z — can have vastly different opinions, habits and viewpoints in the workplace, online and in their everyday lives. But by acknowledging and addressing the unique preferences of each generation, associations can create a more inclusive and appealing environment for members of all ages, unifying them together.

Brands, associations and companies can be known to leave older generations behind, or lag on inviting younger ones in. But it's important to not count any specific group out. In fact, "Americans over the age of 60 will soon become a larger consumer group in terms of income than 20-to-34-year-olds, yet companies still position their brands as if the bulk of the market is people under the age of 40."

Millennials and Gen Z often gravitate towards digital platforms and social media for information and networking. Associations can leverage this by incorporating interactive online events, webinars and social media campaigns. Simultaneously, older generations such as baby boomers and Gen X may prefer traditional communication channels, such as newsletters, conferences and print materials. Striking a balance between these preferences ensures that the association's message resonates with a broader audience. Read on for more in-depth ways to market towards these demographics.

How to market towards baby boomers

Coming of age during a post-war and economic boom in 1946 through 1964, baby boomers possess significant purchasing power and discretionary income due to their extensive experience in the workforce. Despite having lived a substantial part of their lives without modern technology, this generation has readily adopted it, engaging with social media, mobile devices and online shopping. Their behavior is influenced by a desire for favorable deals and consistency. Once they find brands that align with their preferences, baby boomers exhibit a strong sense of loyalty towards them. They value customer service and simplistic, easy-to-understand content.

How to market towards Gen X

As the smallest generation, those born between 1965 through 1976 came of age during a recession, shaping their cautious approach to finances and fostering a skeptical attitude towards brands. Characterized by a reluctance towards change and innovation, this generation tends to favor the familiar. Generation X individuals respond positively to nostalgia, as well as word of mouth and user reviews. Despite growing up with modern technology for a significant portion of their lives, they have a preference for established practices and trusted recommendations.

How to market towards millennials

Millennials, the largest generation in history, were the first to experience an upbringing alongside modern technology. Born between 1977 and 1995, they resonate with authenticity and actively seek out messaging that is aligned with social and environmental causes. Use multichannel, user-generated content, influencer marketing, social media marketing and content marketing to really grab the attention of a millennial.

How to market towards Gen Z

Generation Z is one of the newest, most diverse, and tech-savvy generations. Despite the relative youth of many individuals in this generation, they wield substantial spending power. This group relies heavily on social media for reviews and recommendations, more so than other generations, and actively engages with brands. Embracing influencer marketing, reviews, videos, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, mobile interactions, testimonials and social advertising will catch this demographic's eye.

Don't limit yourself

While multi-generational marketing is key if you want your association to succeed across diverse audiences, keep in mind that this strategy should not be your association's sole approach. There are strategies and factors such as geography, income, ethnicity and interests that all play into successful persona-based market targeting.

But multi-generational marketing isn't just a trend; it is a necessity for associations looking to thrive in 2024 and beyond. In embracing this approach, associations are not just marketing to different generations; they are building a more resilient and inclusive foundation for the future.