The online market, like the offline one is highly segmented in terms of demographics and the needs of the consumer. The online market place comprises of the older generation, the middle aged, the young adults and the even younger consumer. Why do these segments matter? Taking into consideration the online behavior of these different segments allows you to determine their needs and how to engage these needs. Not understanding the online consumers segment is really marketing on blind faith. The main online consumers include: Baby Boomers, Generation C, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z.
Baby Boomers are those consumers aged between ages 63 and 75 years; these are the older baby boomers. There are plenty of marketing myths about this consumer segment. While it is true that most of them do not spend as much time on social media, it is not entirely true that they spend less time online.
A study by eMarketer showed that the younger baby boomers between the age of 47 and 55 years spend up to 39 hours online. The older baby boomers spend up to 36 hours online every month, not too far behind their younger counterparts. Both groups of baby boomers spend much of their online time on online shopping portals. A recent survey by Forrester research group indicated that baby boomers spent up to $650 on online shopping in just three months. This is in contrast to generation X consumers who spent only $581.
While baby boomers are generally active online, they are not as committed to their mobile devices as other online consumers are. eMarketer studies show that just 40% of baby boomers will have a mobile phone or mobile device at the end of 2015. This is lower than the expected mobile device usage, which is anticipated to be at 49% by the end of 2012.
What about social media? Certainly, Generation Y is much more active on social media than the baby boomers are. But you might as well find a couple of baby boomers on platforms such as Facebook. In general, baby boomers heavily relay on social media to seek peer recommendation before making a purchase decision. Baby boomers also rely on traditional channels such as print and email before they can visit a specific website.
Overall, baby boomers are keener on personal recommendation, brand loyalty, and customer services. As people become older, they are keener on the experience they have with a brand than the products that brands sell to them.
Generation C is rather a new and narrow categorization of online consumer segmentation. According to a recent report by Nielsen, Generation C consumers fall between the time when the VCR became popular and when businesses began gaining an online presence. In America for example, the Gen C would fall in the age 18-34 age group and they are revolutionizing online media consumption. They are willing to easily adopt digital technology and all the rapid advances that come with digital consumption.
The generation C consumer is keen on staying connected with themselves and with their community. This consumer is adopting new devices that enhance his connectivity. This consumer is consuming online video, spending a lot of time on social networking and sharing sites as well as popular blogs.
The generation C consumers stay connected with their mobile devices, specifically tablets and smartphones. The fact that they use internet-enabled devices makes them distinctive consumers; this target market offers an opportunity for marketers. Their sense of connectivity and their availability online allows marketers to reach out to the generation C consumer.
However the marketing and business funnels used to reach out to, engage and keep this type of consumer needs to change. The connected online consumer is keen on having their changing needs met, they simply want to click and to receive what they need conveniently from their connected devices.
Finally, the connected consumer can be reached through multiple channels. According to a Nielsen, when the Generation C consumer is watching TV, he is also checking email online, generally surfing the web and participating in social network including Facebook, Zynga, Google and YouTube.
Generation X consumers fall in the age group between 35 and 46 years. While generation Y consumers have been with technology and the internet all their life, Generation X consumers grew up at a time when there was no digital advertising. This consumer segment is familiar with traditional forms of marketing more than they are with modern advancements in advertisement and marketing.
Importantly generation X is strongly committed to a single brand when compared to the more versatile and choosy Generation Y and baby boomers. They tend to stick with brands they can trust and do not mind paying higher prices to obtain services and products from a specific brand. Compared to Gen Y consumer, the Gen X consumer is less inclined to try new products. In an eMarketer study up to 70% of participants in the US and 30%, from English speaking markets elsewhere can be categorized as Generation X consumers.
Both the marketing message and the channel used to reach the Gen X consumer matters. Most consumers in this category spend up to 37 hour online every month, according to comScore. Generation X consumers are more receptive to emails, websites that offer news, weather updates as well as banking information. They are generally affluent consumers who also stay connected through their smart devices mostly for business, to check email and to access social media.
Generation Y consumers are also known as Millenials. They are avid consumers and influencers of the online market. They are more drawn toward forward looking brands such as those that have a Facebook presence. They are also keen on brands that have optimized their websites for mobile. Additionally, most millennials spend most of their online time on social networks where they look to connect with brands.
Like the Generation C consumer, the Gen Y consumer is willing to adopt novel technologies. He is likely to own an Mp3 player or an iPod compared to non-millenial consumers. Generation Y will also spend a large amount of their time in online video platforms. It is important to identify the precise platform where your target market spends their time, for you to engage the market effectively.
While social media is important, it is also a good idea to effectively use your website to reach out to the Gen Y consumers. These consumers are usually looking for valuable information and content. Give them valuable content about your business and related niches. Also, allow your website to serve as a place where this consumer can offer feedback and connect with your brand.
Generation Z are the younger consumers who are about 13- 15 years old. However, these consumers are well versed with technology and they seek to keep up with it. They know how to build and to interact with websites and they are indeed active online. They spend most of their time on online video and gaming platforms making it easier to reach them through ads on these platforms.
Generation Z consumers, like the connected consumers and the Generation Y, are more likely to multitask. They often watch TV while using their mobiles to send messages and surfing the internet. This usage of multiple screens enables marketers to reach this consumer from more varied points of contact.