The Benefits of Generational Marketing. A Research Proposal

Essay, 2016

10 Pages, Grade: Junior

Free online reading



Literature Review



Works Cited


Marketing… What is marketing? One of my favorite marketing-related quotes is by Leo Burnett… “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” (Burnett) This brilliant quote encapsulates what should sometimes be going through the mind of a marketer while creating marketing content. It may sound like common sense, but there is a difference between consumers and customers. Consumers are the users of goods and services whereas customers actually purchase the goods and services Marketing’s two main goals are increasing sales by creating awareness and improving a company or brand’s reputation. (Boykin) Some common tasks of marketers require finding and targeting a certain group of consumers. (Boykin) The point of this is to have products or services that meet the specific needs of certain people. One major consideration when deciding who to target and how customers should be targeted is the age and generation of the key customers. Age definitely plays a factor on how we react to nearly all stimuli. My generation, Generation Y, has different general attributes from the people of Generation X. (Boykin) For example, Millennials love commercials integrated with facts and innovative new products. This discussion is not solely useful to the professionals that promote products, it is important for everyone that purchases and uses products. Studying this topic can make readers more conscious of which brands would most satisfy their many desires, like the desire to have fresh minty breath or to have reliable and comfortable transportation. This essay is a formal research proposal continuing on the work of popular marketing authors as well as finding gaps in their work. There are eight academic articles of which will be looked at in the literature review portion of this essay.

Dietrich believes high schoolers are most likely to be influenced by alcohol advertisements because lack proper judgment skills when it comes to risk-reward and also due to their obvious lack of experience. (Dietrich) Another likely factor is that the young consumers of Generation Z are often impacted by peer pressure, especially in social gatherings. Swahn conducted a survey of thousands of students and the results show many of them drank enough alcohol within the past thirty days in order to become drunk. (Swahn) Results from the surveys show that males are more likely to consume alcohol within the past month than females- in fact, the gap between the two sexes is a staggering eleven percent. (Swahn)

On a related note, online advertisements are becoming the pinnacle of advertising due to how integrated our lives are with the internet. Cheyne believes this is especially true with Generation Z as they are constantly either checking social media applications or playing video games. Cereal companies have taken advantage of the power of online marketing with the use of fun and highly interactive websites due to the fact that kids are fascinated by fun games. Another important topic is by Guven and relates to brand loyalty. Earning brand loyalty can be accomplished in many different ways, it differs from customer to customer. Brand loyalty is theoretical rather than factual because it is a relatively new study. Learning and practicing brand loyalty based on the age of customers is one of the greatest ways to keep customers coming back for more. The purpose of this essay is to further look into the effects age has on customers in terms of marketing. This means that customers have different reactions to marketing stimuli such as advertisements or brand image based on many factors, especially their age which affects many of their personal attributes. Finding more information on this topic can further the customer satisfaction companies, the benefit is entirely mutual to companies and customers.

This essay is separated into four sections: Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology and Proposal/Discussion. The Introduction briefly goes over the main topic and defines key terms. The Literature Review goes over the most important points of eight marketing-related academic articles as they relate to the topic of generational marketing. My methodology section is meant to prove my argument. Finally, the Proposal/Discussion is aimed at looking further into possibilities of my topic.

Literature Review

The question being investigated is: Marketers and non-marketers alike often believe that marketing towards the consumers of Generation Z (of which will be referred to as ‘young consumers’, the cohorts born after the Millennials) can be unethical because young consumers are easily influenced and misled due to their young age. At the same time, products targeted towards kids usually require an unusually high amount of marketing in order to be profitable. This creates quite a conundrum. Candy, toys, and cereals are great typical examples of goods used by kids that require an unusually high amount of money invested in promoting the brand. Possibly the greatest example of a product that requires a ton of marketing in order to earn a profit is alcohol. The younger consumers of alcohol are the group of consumers most highly influenced by alcohol advertisements. Dietrich believes this could possibly be caused by young consumers lacking proper judgment skills when it comes to risk-reward and also due to their obvious lack of experience.( Dietrich) Another likely factor is that the young consumers of Generation Z are often impacted by peer pressure, especially in social gatherings. Each article related to young consumers are explanations similar to Dietrich’s. Alcohol consumption amongst the members of Generation Z in impoverished countries like the Philippines is explained by Swahn in a very helpful manner. He and his coauthors found that the legal regulations in the Philippines aimed at preventing kids from purchasing alcohol were rather lacking. (Swahn) Swahn’s survey of over 5000 students shows that approximately twenty-three percent of young students in the Philippines have consumed alcohol in the past month while the vast majority of these alcohol-consuming students drank enough to become drunk. (Swahn) Results from the surveys show that males are more likely to consume alcohol within the past month than females- in fact, the gap between the two sexes is a staggering eleven percent. (Swahn)

Dietrich’s credibility is boosted because his study’s results are consistent with the marketing strategies of popular alcohol companies. Dietrich aimed at coming up with segments for a school-based alcohol social marketing program in Australia. In other words, he created different classifications for students that consumed alcohol. Teenagers between the age of fourteen and sixteen were introduced and participated in a school program focused on teaching the students the risks of alcohol. As it turned out, the two semi-narrow groups of students categorized in this study were risky males and good females. Males drank more often and they also enjoyed drinking more than females. (Dietrich) The females mostly drank for the sake of fitting in with their peers, but they tended to not drink enough to become very intoxicated. (Dietrich) This information is valuable to marketers because it shows consumption patterns among teenagers. Females prefer lighter alcohols like wine and some low-calorie beers, whereas males were more interested in alcohols like whiskey and non-diet beers. Marketers can use this information to effectively customize their marketing strategies towards either males or females. Businesses can take this information and turn it into a new product. Females light alcohols, this is why most alcoholic beverages created for the consumption of females are light in calories, low in alcohol content, and fun to drink. Bud Lite realized that there were few alcoholic beverages for women, so they created the appealing Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita products to capture a new market.

Another subject, brought up by Cheyne and his coauthors is the less worrisome product of cereal. Their article delves into the greatest methods of marketing communications a cereal company can have to interact with their consumers, mostly kids. (Cheyne) The article starts off by explaining the drastic increase in online food advertisements: “the trend toward advertising food and beverages to children online has significance for several reasons. First, the digital medium offers marketers new opportunities to reach children.” (Cheyne) Online ads are becoming the main focus of advertising in general due to how integrated our lives are with the internet. This is especially true with Generation Z as they are constantly either checking social media applications or playing video games. Cereal companies have taken advantage of the power of online marketing with the use of fun and highly interactive websites. These websites include games, advergames, and videos. (Cheyne) The vast majority of the web pages are low immersion, meaning that they are easy to navigate and easy to comprehend. Young consumers are usually easily influenced and love to share experiences that they enjoy, this is why these cereal websites are always shareable, allowing kids to introduce their friends to the cereal websites. This is an excellent way to increase web traffic, and best of all, it is completely free to the company. These websites commonly had rewards for the actions of the users. For example, completing a product-based poll or survey will give the users online points of which they can use to buy wallpapers or special videos. (Cheyne)

Last but not least is the oldest generation living in America (there is one minor exception of little importance). Similar to the Baby Boomers, the Silent, and GI Generation have a limited time horizon, except their time horizon is much shorter. This leads to an increased probability of purchasing luxurious items like cars or lavish purses. The retiring cohorts take the most vacations compared to all other generations. Interestingly enough, Williams and his coauthors claim that advertisements and marketing strategies involving preventing the likeliness of negative emotions are highly effective with the retiring cohorts. (Williams) Emotional stimuli also tend to be most powerful when aimed towards the retired or retiring customers of America, this is believed to be partly caused by their declining cognitive system. (Williams) Another potential reason for their strong emotions is that their maturity and great wisdom helped give them a complex understanding of their own opinions and feelings. (Williams) Williams’ article briefly mentions how the age of the retiring cohorts affects their mental abilities. Sudbury and Simcock’s work goes in-depth into the relationship between old age and mental abilities, they coined the term “cognitive age”. Sudbury’s findings, similar to William’s finding show that retiring customers are some of the greatest consumers in the travel, leisure, and financial services industries. (Sudbury) Many leisure and travel companies cater to the particular needs of the retiring cohorts. For example, most cruise companies have a special offer for the elderly of which is all-inclusive and covers all possible cruise expenses such as food, drinks, and onboard entertainment. As age grows, so does compassion. This is why grandmas always have a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Gift giving and compassion go hand-in-hand, thus, this generation often gives gifts to their relatives.

The work done by these authors is of great value as they describe how each generation is affected differently by marketing. But these authors seem to miss addressing the most important part of all practical business articles… How is all of this information practical and usable for businesses partaking in marketing practices? This should be the foremost concern to all business writers as business research results are purely pieces of reading entertainment unless they can be applied directly to business. My methodology below should hopefully be able to resolve this major issue.


More work should be done to benefit both consumers and the brands they purchase. This is an infinite loop of benefit as consumers would be more aware of what products would suit their needs, and companies would be able to sell more products and services to those in need. There should be some way to put all of this information to work so that it can be implemented into a well-practiced marketing strategy.

I propose a multiple-step proposal to find a way to add generational tactics to all marketing strategies that may benefit. What needs to be done is the creation a list of ways companies can target their brands towards certain generations or age groups. Following the introductory first step is to decide which generational targeting strategy to apply to certain brands. Not all generational targeting strategies will be effective in terms of their cost when compared to the benefit, just as not all brands should be involved in generational targeting strategies. The final phase is implementation. This is when the ideas actually become a reality.

This seems like a great plan, but it is actually effective? Is it worth the time and money to attempt? These questions are vital to both the businesses considering this plan and the students wondering if this plan is worth their time to study. First, let’s look into whether or not segmenting markets and choosing a specific audience is a good idea. Decreasing expenditures while increasing revenue is the well-known goal of businesses. Creating products or services and then promoting these products or services to thousands, possibly millions of people, is incredibly expensive. Products or services that fulfill a few needs, but fulfill them well, are both cheaper to produce (compared to products that fulfill many needs) and are easier as well as cheaper to promote. The products or services are cheaper to produce because they are less complicated, and they are cheaper to promote because the advertisements or other forms of promotion because the main selling point(s) can be very concise and straight to the point. Toothpaste companies realize this and they take advantage of this. For example, Rembrandt is a brand of toothpaste that aims at being the best whitening toothpaste. It is not known for making consumers’ mouths feel fresh or eliminating plaque, but just whitening teeth. This makes Rembrandt attractive to people that care most about having white teeth. Colgate does something similar, as they have many products that accomplish a certain task very well. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief, Colgate Fresh Energy Gel, and Colgate Whitening are good examples. Each of these products is great for certain consumers.

So targeting certain groups of people is a good idea, but how is targeting consumers based on their generation a worthwhile venture? Yes, it is and that is because each generation has common and prominent attributes related to what they look for in products. Technology companies such as Google and Samsung target Millennials because we Millennials are the largest consumers of electronics. (Entis) Samsung focuses on selling to Millennials by constantly being on the bleeding edge of technology via innovation. This technology popularized a few smartphone features such as VR compatibility and fingerprint readers. (Fromm) Targeting Millennials via creating the most innovative products in their entire sector is the reason why Samsung is at the top of the list of the greatest technology companies of all time.


Companies should target certain generations of consumers in order to have products or services that satisfy their needs. My methodology and generational targeting strategy are thought-out and reasonable, but they are definitely not perfect. A few assumptions were made during both of these. For example, not all companies and not all brands could implement these tactics into their strategy due to many different constraints such as the size of their workforce or the lack of brands that would gain from the generational targeting strategy.

Another issue is that the three-step proposal explained above will most likely only be feasible for mid to large corporations. My strategy can be incredibly impactful but it is also very expensive to conduct generational research. Finding useful generational information from data will require experienced employees. Not only that, but survey participants are often dishonest when answering questions. Being able to realize when a responder’s survey results are tainted is important to receiving valuable survey results. My methodology is designed specifically to be feasible and sensible, so there are few issues with my methodology.

This research and proposal can be valuable to interested businesses as well as business students. Some large businesses hire third-party consultants in order to formulate marketing strategies, including generational marketing strategies. This essay does the work for the companies for free. The purpose of this essay is to both look further into a certain part of marketing and also to give others the opportunity to learn. This topic can be delved deeper into and can be more intuitive and detailed by those dedicated to generational marketing, but this is an excellent start. Measuring success is a difficult task because the goal of this plan is to increase sales and thus increase profits. Analysts could look to see if sales increased, this is the greatest method of quantifying success but it is unreliable because companies do not know if these customers bought the products or services due to the company’s generational approach to marketing.

Works Cited

Ordun, Guven. "Millennial (Gen Y) Consumer Behavior Their Shopping Preferences and Perceptual Maps Associated With Brand Loyalty." Canadian Social Science 11.4 (2015): 40-55. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

Williams, Patti and Aimee Drolet. "Age‐Related Differences in Responses to Emotional Advertisements." Journal of Consumer Research 32.3 (2005): 343-54. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.

Sudbury, Lynn, and Peter Simcock. "Understanding Older Consumers through Cognitive Age and the List of Values: A U.K.-based Perspective." Psychology and Marketing Psychology. Mark. 26.1 (2009): 22-38. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Swahn, Monica H., Jane B. Palmier, Agnes Benegas-Segarra, and Fe A. Sinson. "Alcohol Marketing and Drunkenness among Students in the Philippines: Findings from the Nationally Representative Global School-based Student Health Survey." BMC Public Health 13.1 (2013): 1159. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Dietrich, Timo, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Cheryl Leo, and Jason Connor. "One Size (Never) Fits All: Segment Differences Observed Following a School-Based Alcohol Social Marketing Program." J School Health Journal of School Health 85.4 (2015): 251-59. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Cheyne, Andrew D., Lori Dorfman, Eliana Bukofzer, and Jennifer L. Harris. "Marketing Sugary Cereals to Children in the Digital Age: A Content Analysis of 17 Child-Targeted Websites." Journal of Health Communication 18.5 (2013): 563-82. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

Boykin, George. "What Are Cohorts in Marketing?" What Are Cohorts in Marketing? Web. 05 Mar. 2016.

"The Six Living Generations In America." Marketing Teacher. Web. 05 Mar. 2016

Fromm, Jeff. "How Samsung Is Walking with Millennials | Millennial Marketing." Millennial Marketing. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

Entis, Laura. "Why Marketing to College Millennials Pays Off (Infographic)." Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Media, Inc., 2014. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

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The Benefits of Generational Marketing. A Research Proposal
Wayne State University
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ISBN (Book)
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Marketing, generation, wayne state university, product, business
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Frank Lazur (Author), 2016, The Benefits of Generational Marketing. A Research Proposal, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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