Generation in the context of marketing

Each generation is profoundly influenced by the times in which it grows up — the music movies, politics, and defining events of that period. Demographers call these groups cohorts. Members of cohort share the same major cultural, political, and economic experiences. They have similar outlooks and values. Marketers often advertise to a cohort group by using the icon and images prominent in their experiences.

Yet while distinctions can be made between different cohorts, generational cohorts also influence each other. For instance, because so many members of Generation Y — ‘Echo Boomers’ — are living wit their boomer parents, the parents are being influenced and exhibiting what demographers are calling a ‘boom-boom effect. The same products that appeal to 21 year olds are appealing to youth obsessed baby boomers.

A framework called Life stage Analytic Matrix was developed by two researchers which combines information on cohorts, life stages, physiographic, emotional effects, and socioeconomics in analyzing a segment or individual. For example, two individuals from the same cohort may differ in their in their stages (having a divorce, getting remarried), physiographic (coping with hair loss, menopause, arthritis, or osteoporosis), emotional effects (nostalgia for the past, wanting experiences instead of things), or socioeconomics (losing a job, receiving an inheritance).

Social Class

Social class has a strong influence on preference in cars, clothing, home furnishing, leisure activities, reading habits, and retailers. Many companies design products and services for specific social classes. The tastes of social classes change with the years. The 1990s were about greed and ostentation for the upper classes. Affluent tastes now run more conservatively, although luxury goods makers still successfully sell to those seeking the good life.

Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographics is the science of using psychology and demographics to better understand consumers. In psychographic segmentation buyers are divided into different groups on the basis of psychological /personality traits, lifestyle, or values. People within the same demographic group can exhibit very different psychographic profiles.

One of the most popular commercially available classification systems based on psychographic measurement is SRI Consulting Business Intelligence’s VALS framework. VALS classifies US adults into eight primary groups based on personality traits and key demographics. The segmentation system is based on responses to a questionnaire.