How to market to the silent generation

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When marketing to members of the silent generation — or any generation, focus on behaviors rather than age.

That's the advice from global marketing firm Epsilon in its new report, “Age is an Attitude: Marketing to the Boomers+ Population.”

“The biggest marketing error we can make is assuming all boomers or all silents are the same,” according to the report authors.

They define the silent generation as those born from 1928 to 1945, or aged approximately 72 to 89 years. No population can be stereotyped, although Epsilon culled its data to reveal some general points that may apply to many:

  • Single older adults are more likely to move to an assisted living community or somewhere closer to amenities or family.
  • Direct mail is their preferred way to be reached.
  • They are just as likely as baby boomers (aged approximately 53 to 71) to own computers. They also use e-readers, tablet computers, smartphones and smart TVs, although they aren't as likely to use some technologies, such as smartwatches.
  • Facebook by far is the most common social network used, and they use it to stay in touch with family members and even find old friends. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat don't hold much appeal. (The report authors recommend using social media to connect with consumers of all ages.)
  • Many like to bird-watch; collect things; participate in crafts such as knitting, cross-stitch, crocheting or quilting; play games such as Words with Friends or Solitaire; or garden.
  • Although many older adults may not participate in sports other than low-impact activities such as walking, many like to watch sports, especially  baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey and soccer.
  • Of those with pets, a strong preference exists for small dogs.

Despite these points, the authors advise marketers to “tailor your messaging to what you know about the individual consumers.”

Marital status, income, net worth, life experience, health and age all affect how people respond to marketing messages, they said, adding: “It's your job to understand this, act accordingly and reach them in the moments that matter with a message that will create a connection.”

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