For insurance marketers, reaching the right customer with an appropriate offer at the most opportune time is a top priority. But its not something that happens by chance. While terms like “generational marketing” and “life stages” are often bandied about, do we know what they really mean? And perhaps more importantly, do we understand their impact on the final outcome of our marketing efforts?
Generational marketing can be boiled down to a singular concept. Simply put, generational marketing is the practice of appealing to the unique needs of individuals within a specific generation group by offering the right product to the right person at the right time. That said, generational marketing is based on two founding principles: 1) that product needs change with life stages, and 2) that promotional messages and products targeting these generation groups or cohorts can reflect the generational values which drive their consumption behavior.
What is a life stage and why is it relevant to us as insurance marketers? A life stage is a role that individuals take on or act out over a lifetime, such as “spouse,” “parent,” “divorcee,” “retiree,” “caregiver” and so on. People move randomly from one life stage to another, typically occupying more than one stage at a time. These life stages define a consumers attitudes, perceptions, and subsequently, their daily activities.
Cohorts are the peers with whom we travel through life together, experiencing similar events at a similar age. Are cohorts necessarily in the same life stage(s) at the same time? Think of your peers. Some may be “where you are” now. But while the generation may be the same, life stages may not be. Even for the ones that join you in specific life stages, you can be sure that cohorts will react to a life stage in new and different ways, making marketing that much more complex. Understanding what motivates the consumer is the driver of successful marketing. Using cohort values and images that relate to a cohort-specific “coming of youth” experience symbol or icon in your marketing messages is a very powerful way to communicate “This is for you, we know who you are.”
Because product needs change with life stages, insurance marketers that want to find success must offer products that are meaningful at each life stage or event. Whether you employ targeting segments, a one-to-one marketing approach or modeling, a generational marketing approach can improve both your strategic and tactical marketing execution.
In todays world, it is not enough to rely on outdated and overly broad general marketing approaches based on age. A 50-year-old today isnt the same as a 50-year-old in 1979 (the first year when the Silent generation began turning 50) or a 50-year-old in the year 2016 (the first year when the Gen X generation begins turning 50).