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Generational Marketing: Marketing to Gen X vs Baby Boomers

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Who are Baby Boomers?

Baby Boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. They make up just over a quarter of all pet ownership. Many are parents to Gen-Z or Millennial children who have grown up and moved out, so adopting a pet helps with their feelings of having an empty nest. They spend an average of $926 a year on pet care.

What values define Baby Boomer buying behavior? What motivates Baby Boomer buying decisions?

In order to understand how to market to Baby Boomers, you need to understand their purchase behavior, which is influenced by their life experiences, financial status, health, and statistics of their generation. These values can include:

  • Quality. Baby Boomers would rather purchase one more expensive item that will last them a long time than buy a bunch of cheaper ones. To appeal to Baby Boomers, ensure you’re testing products you sell or are stocking well-reviewed products that will stand the test of time, and have your sales associates tout the reliability of these products as well.
  • Value For Money and Practicality. Boomers want to feel as if they’re getting a good experience for the price they’re paying – they probably don’t want a flashy solid gold dog bowl, for example. They also might opt for a simple, practical Kong toy over a plush one shaped like a Frappuccino. Less is more with this group: make sure your business is the best at its core competencies rather than relying on flashy gimmicks. They may not want to dye their dog’s fur purple, but are expecting you to groom them well and clip their nails evenly.
  • Brand Loyalty and Traditionalism. Baby Boomers love the brands they grew up with, or the experiences they grew up with. They want to recreate their own traditions or keep them alive.  
  • Trust and Reliability. Boomers are more likely to choose to shop with reputable and well-reviewed companies. This doesn’t mean they’ll only go to older businesses: they can be impressed with strong word of mouth and recommendations from friends.
  • Traditional and Personal Advertisements. Baby Boomers are still influenced by traditional methods of advertising like direct mail, television commercials, and print ads. If you’re only using social media to market your business, this is a sign to diversify your channels. Baby boomers don’t rely on influencers for their purchasing decisions, so you’ll want to go the more traditional route. 
  • Health and Wellness. This group is getting older, so naturally they want to preserve their vitality. You can promote how bonding with pets helps their mental wellbeing, or create events where Baby Boomers walk or hike with their dogs. 

How to market to Baby Boomers?

There are several ways you can attract and then retain Baby Boomer customers. 

  • To get them in the door, consider advertising in your local newspaper or sending out postcards to attract Boomers, maybe even featuring seniors in the advertisements. 
  • You can also offer personalized promotions to make that age group feel special. Could you do a seniors-only dog training class? 
  • Since Boomers rely on positive reviews and word of mouth, you can collect reviews from your customers, start a referral program so Baby Boomer customers spread the word about your work, and add positive reviews to your marketing materials so potential customers see you are a reliable business.
  • If you sell retail products, you can appeal to their values of quality and tradition. You might consider stocking higher-end and higher-quality leashes, harnesses, toys, and beds to appeal to this generation, as well as less-expensive options to appeal to younger ones. 
  • You can also appeal to Baby Boomers’ traditional values by stocking pet products by heritage brands, like Pendleton and Carhartt, that they may have purchased for themselves, or classic pet food brands they have fed to dogs for years.
  • The above principles can also apply to businesses like grooming and dog training as well. You can also tout the timelessness of your services: are you utilizing training techniques that have been used for years? 
  • Whatever line of business you’re in, ensure you’re delivering the highest quality possible, and Baby Boomers will appreciate that. If they’re paying a significant amount of money for dog training, they’ll pay attention to whether the dog is responding better to commands, is calmer on walks, and anything else you’re promising to deliver.

Marketing to Gen X

Who are Gen X?

Gen Xers were born between 1965-1980 and their pet ownership is slightly lower than Boomers’, at 24%. Unlike Boomers, they have experienced the parentification of pets: they treat their fur babies like their actual babies. With the growing costs of living, Gen Xers and their Millennnial and Gen-Z counterparts may have delayed having human children, leading to them treating their pets like children. This means they’ll spend more than boomers on veterinary care and other pet services, coming in at $1100 a year, compared to their $926.

What values define Gen X buying behavior, and what motivates Gen X buying decisions?

Gen X has some similar buying behaviors to Baby Boomers: both generations look for value for money, practicality, quality, brand loyalty, and durability. But they differ in some key ways you can incorporate into your marketing strategies.

  • Work-Life Balance and Convenience. Gen Xers aren’t chained to the office and are willing to pay for experiences that help them save time, or make their leisure experiences (like hanging out with their dogs!) better. 
  • Individuality. Gen Xers are looking for niche or boutique brands to shop from and ways to express their (or their dog’s) point of view. 
  • Tech-Savviness. Unlike Baby Boomers, this generation does not shy away from technology, wanting to use it to improve their lives and making them more convenient.
  • Sustainability. Gen X’ers came of age with environmental awareness, so they care about buying products and using services with green benefits like using recycled plastic or less water.
  • Family-Oriented. With more work-life balance comes a commitment to spending more time with their family – which includes pets. 

How to market to Gen X?

  • To target Gen X’s need for work-life balance, convenience, and wants to spend time with their families, see if you can offer pickup and dropoff services, like having your employees pickup pups at Gen Xers’s homes and take them to daycare or grooming and drop them off afterward, for an additional fee.
  • Appeal to Gen X’s desire for individuality by selling pet products from smaller brands, offering products that come in fun colors and patterns. If you operate a grooming business, consider offering flashier add ons like dog nail painting, fur dye, and even fur gems.
  • Unlike Boomers who prefer more traditional media to find your business, utilize technological tools like a website, social media, and even an app for your business to attract Gen X customers.
  • Opt to sell products that bave ecofriendly value propositions to appeal to Gen X’s desires for sustainability. Could you sell plant-based dog food? Poop bags or toys that are made from recycled plastic? Could you offer grooming services that use less water?

Marketing to Other Generations

Millennials vs Gen Z: Pet Parent Buying Behavior

Millennials and members of Gen Z are spending the most on their pets as compared to other generations, are the most tech savvy, and make their purchases based on aesthetics and company values. To market to them, you can partner with influencers and advertise on their favorite social media platforms (typically Instagram and TikTok), and try to stock products from smaller brands that are popular on social media, such as direct-to-consumer pet brands that have recently begun selling products in retail. If you’re not a part of this generation, ask your younger staff members who may own pets what kinds of products and services they’d be interested in for their pets – like a mini focus group.

Commonly Asked Questions

What are the most effective marketing strategies for a pet business? Link here

To market your pet business, you’ll want to utilize a mix of marketing channels. Below is a list of channels you can consider.

  • Content Marketing and Local SEO. Create a website with content that promotes what’s special about your business, and add helpful information like directions, a phone number or email address, and even a booking platform so when someone finds you they’ll have everything they need to make an appointment. You can also set up “Google My Business”, Yelp, and other website profiles. Both of these channels will help you with SEO, or search engine optimization, so when someone searches “Groomer near me” or “Dog training in Wichita” online,  your business will pop up. 
  • Social Media Marketing. Social media is often the first touchpoint a new potential customer will have with your brand, so it’s important to make a great first impression. You can post content touting your services and your friendly staff, or guides that answer questions for pet parents. Social media comments are another way people might get in touch with you, so you can have a staff member monitor your pages and respond to their queries.
  • Paid Social Media and Paid Search Advertising. Content and social media marketing are organic and free ways for people to find and engage with your business, but if you’d like to target certain demographics or geographical areas, you can pay for ads on social media and Google so those customers can find you. PetExec, a pet business software, integrates with Broadly to help your business attract leads and gain reviews on platforms including Google and Facebook. Broadly offers a 30-day free trial for Petexec users.
  • E-mail and Text Message Marketing. You can collect customers’ email addresses and phone numbers when they sign up for your services, and add an e-mail sign up button on your website as well. Then you can send out promotional emails. You can even send out promotions to specific segments of customers, such as people who signed up for e-mails but aren’t customers yet, customers who have booked one service, or customers who have booked more than one service. If you sign up for a great pet business software like PetExec, you can create and automate eblasts on their platform, saving you time.
  • Direct Advertising. If you want to appeal to older generations, you can take out ads in your local paper or on television, and you can send out postcards as well. You can include a promo code on these ads so you can see if customers found you through these methods, and evaluate if you’re getting a ROAS (return on ad spend) from this traditionally more expensive medium.
  • Event Marketing, Referral Programs, and Branded Merchandise. You can hold fun events at your business like holiday parties, pet adoption events, and even speed dating for pet lovers, and create and sell merch with your logo on it (think: dog bandanas, water bottles, and t-shirts) so people see your business in the wild and want to visit you. You can also start a referral program, where customers earn discounts or free services by bringing their friends to your business, too.

How to write a marketing plan for your pet business? Link here.

A marketing plan is a document that details your business’s future in marketing. You’ll select what channels you’ll use for marketing, how much you’ll spend on advertisements, and targets for how many customers you’ll acquire and how much revenue they’ll bring in. It’s a key document to have to ensure you and your upper level staff are aligned on business goals, or if you want to get acquired by another larger business.

How to create a marketing budget for your pet business? Link here.

A marketing budget accounts for all the expenses you’ll accrue once you begin your business, including start-up costs and recurring costs. Categories can include rent or mortgage, business insurance, taxes, equipment, retail product inventory, licenses and permits, employee salaries, pet business software, and banking fees.


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