I was on a panel at a Remodelers Advantage workshop in January when an  attendee asked, “Now that the boomers are moving out, how do we market to the other generations?” I began rattling off a few characteristics, “Millennials value engagement, transparency, philanthropy…” and so on.

A hand shot up, “Yeah, but what about generation X?” I started thumbing through my mental file for descriptors. “Let’s see, they were born between the boomers and the millennials, so they’re ‘60s and ‘70s kids. They grew up in turbulent economic times …” blah, blah, blah.

Upon reflection, I should have told the questioner to not worry about generation X. It’s not that I think gen X-ers aren’t the right group for him. It’s that I think he shouldn’t be marketing to particular generations at all.

This notion flies in the face of proponents who argue that each generation buys differently because each generation shares influences, belief systems, and values that are different from their ancestors and descendants. But here’s the thing; these shared experiences aren’t as clear as they may have been in 1950. From cable TV to 24-hour news channels to the Internet to social media to smartphones, we’ve got so many potential experiences to share that we really don’t share many of them.

Think back to your high school years and all of the different cliques. They were all in the same place within four years of each other, but do you think that your marketing message will resonate with all of them? More importantly, do you even want it to?

What About Life Stages?

Whenever I ask remodelers to identify their target market, one of the most common responses I get is income level. After some prodding and poking I’ll get a life stage. That’s great! The problem is that life stage has been erroneously linked to generations. This simply isn’t the case.

I’ll give myself as an example. I have two friends; both named Mike. We are all the same age and fall in the generation X bucket. Mike “A” has two kids one preparing for college and the other following right behind.Meanwhile, Mike “B” is expecting his first child in four months. We’re no longer on the same timeline. 

So What’s the Verdict?

Generational targeting is an outdated practice. Maybe if you’re a billion-dollar global enterprise, it still has a place, but for remodelers? No. Drill down deep into your target market and identify the buyer persona that you want to go after.

Is your ideal client a married couple that never had children and instead call their two dogs “the kids” and take a tropical cruise every January? Go for it.

Don’t focus on messages that satisfy a generation. Focus on connecting with your target customer.