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Generational Selling

Guest post by AmyK Hutchens

With the holiday season upon us every retailer across the nation is gearing up for a way to reach out to Picture1 their customers in a razzle-dazzle kind of way and get them to spend their precious gift giving dollars on their goods.  Marketing experts will be consulted, ad teams hired, and jingles recorded. Most of us will ignore all of it. Why? Because it's not about us. It's about them.

If retailers really want our attention, then instead of marketing to us with a "one holiday commercial campaign fits all" attitude, they might try a "this is all about you" approach.

Consumer purchasing power is widespread across the generations, and those retailers who know exactly who they are targeting will enjoy this holiday season immensely.


Traditionalists came of age during the Great Depression, witnessing Al Capone go to prison for tax evasion, listening to FDR launch his New Deal, and experiencing Pearl Harbor, World War II and Hiroshima.  They are a generation defined by duty and sacrifice.

As Consumers They:

  •  Value Quality Over Speed
  •  Do Not Require Fancy Options or Customization
  •  Show Loyalty to Familiar Brands – Will Shop Around for Higher Quality in Product/Service or Greater Respect from  Store Personnel

Hire a few extra store personnel to help them find what they are looking for, to look at pictures of the grand babies and to hear the stories of holidays past.


Baby Boomers led the Civil Rights Movement, established the Super Bowl, watched the first Presidential debates and mourned the assassinations of Martin Luther King, JFK, and Robert Kennedy. Many fought in or protested against the Vietnam War. They are a generation focused on prosperity.

As Consumers They:

  •  Seek Products that Help Them Regain Control  of Their Time
  •  Are Critically Concerned with Status & Individuality
  •  Seek Products & Services Which can be Customized and Serve as a Personal Demonstration  of their Own Success

Bring out the rewards and loyalty programs. Create hierarchical tiers that demonstrate levels of status and allow you to demonstrate customer appreciation. Anything that can be customized, from features to colors to size, or anything that can be offered in a wide variety of choices appeals to their individualism.


X'ers were raised with the proverbial latch-key around their necks in a world where the institutional powers – families, schools, churches, presidents – seemed to fall  apart at the seams, Generation X was inadvertently taught to question authority. They eschew hierarchy, preferring instead open communication and a focus on efficiency over punching clocks. Gen X'ers invest loyalty in people, not companies.

As Consumers They:

  • Spot a Phony a Mile Away
  •  Want to Control the Decision and the Sale;  Selecting Options for Themselves
  •  Embrace Technology; Especially To Compare  Purchasing Choices

Relate to them by capitalizing on their truth through irreverent, humorous ads and taglines. Cynicism and dry wit are appreciated and respected. Compare the products on display (shelf or screen), listing features and scenarios where each might serve the better purpose.


Our latest generation of consumers, Millennials, grew up in an uncertain world. Coddled and protected from birth, they also witnessed Apartheid Laws repealed in South Africa, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Until recently, they lived their entire lives in a growing economy. They are extremely tech-savvy, never having experienced a world without cell phones, laptops and global connectivity.

As Consumers They:

  • Want  Instant Gratification
  • View Time as Their Favorite Currency – Fast & Now
  •  Enjoy Rich Product Features
  •  Seek Global Impact
  • Respect  Innovation

Invest in one click shopping experiences.  They want to fly through your website filling their shopping bag, and checking out within a matter of minutes. Create cool copy that gives them all the specifications they look for about a product, but in a hip and fresh way. Donate a percentage of your sales to a global cause and let them know about it, or let them click on a cause of their choice after they've checked out. E-mail or text them their receipt.

This season if you want the holidays to be profitable, sell to specific generations, respecting their unique needs and experiences and the one desire they all have in common…to unwrap exactly what they wanted! AmyKWeb1

 AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist.  With over 800 presentations around the globe to more than 20,000 executives on leadership and sales, AmyK and her team teach executives how to lead and sales teams how to sell…successfully. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit www.amyk.com






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