Generations: How To Talk To Your Audience

Communication is at the core of any entrepreneurial effort, and it goes without saying that as a business owner you must speak in the right way to your audience. That begs the question: do you know to which generation your audience belongs, and how it talks? Here’s an example:

‘No cap!’/ ‘No 🧢!’*

If you understand what this means, then you’re not a Boomer. You’re more likely to belong to Generation Z. But what exactly is a generation?

The phrase 'generation' defines a group of people based on which decade they were born in. They are therefore likely to share the same influences of the time, be they cultural, social, economic, or technological. This period can span 20-30 years and covers the period in which “children are born, grow up, become adults and begin to have children”.


The way we talk defines our generation.

Choosing the right words and the right tone of voice in your message is not just about grammar and syntax – although they are both important – but also about how to engage with your audience. Each generation has its own way to connect verbally, a way that cuts across education and social groupings.

It’s important to understand that your audience will judge your brand by the way you talk to them. Are you using words or turns of phrase that they are familiar with, or are you using terms that will baffle them? The clearer and more understandable your message is, the more your audience will engage with your message.




WHO IS WHO?

BABY BOOMERS: BORN 1946-1964

The Baby Boomer generation began immediately after WWII (with people born in 1946) up to 1964. In the present day, boomers are in their late 50s to early 70s and many are about to be or are already retired. Many find it difficult to engage with technology and may prefer face-to-face interaction. They may find it difficult to navigate the Internet and prefer bricks & mortar premises, where they can take their time and peruse before they purchase. If they are your target audience, you may find it preferable to distribute leaflets and brochures where they can find all the information they need. If you are an online business, your online material should be easy to navigate, and remember to choose fonts that are easy to read!


GENERATION X: BORN 1965-1980

With a decline in birth rates in 1965 came Generation X, which demographers generally say lasted until 1980. They saw the first appearance of personal home computers. They were able to communicate more quickly with emails. These days, generation X-ers are in their early 40s to late 50s. Having grown up with computers, they are more easily engaged by online businesses. If they are your target audience, their familiarity with the net makes it easier for entrepreneurs to create an online presence and target their advertising messages more precisely. Traditional data gathering is a good system for keeping track of what generation X-ers prefer.


You can read all about how to engage with your audience here


GENERATION Y or MILLENNIALS: BORN 1981-1996

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. These days, Generation Y are in their mid-20s to early 40s. They are the Yahoo, mobile phone, Google, Facebook, and iPhone generation. With unlimited access to information, they tend to be assertive and hold strong views and opinions. This techno-savvy generation may prefer choosing their products and services based on flexibility and changing fashion. If your target audience is Generation Y, your message must be delivered fast and always keep up with the latest topic. Your online presence must be on-trend.




GENERATION Z: BORN 1997 OR AFTER

No generation has been as empowered as is Generation Z. They are in their teens – early 20s. They have the freedom to break free from traditional media channels. If they are your target audience, you will need to be able to communicate effectively on social media platforms. To grab Gen Z’s attention, you need to offer them something hyper-relevant which will engage their attention in a few seconds. What they are looking for is not just a product, but also an experience. Never try to ‘fake it’ when engaging with them – they will find you out in the blink of an eye. Born in a time where information is available 24/7, they can filter material so quickly that it might seem like a superpower.



To recap:

Each of these generations has a different way to interact and communicate, from the face-to-face baby boomers to the creation of online communities for teenagers. Speaking directly and effectively to such diverse target audiences is difficult, if not impossible. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to create a perfect environment where your target audience feels most comfortable.


*to “cap” means to lie. “No cap” means no lie, for real. It was popularised by Young Thug in the rap track “No Cap”.