Reaching Today’s Consumer Through the Generations

Recently I had a serious “ah ha” moment when listening to a social media conference call held by the inspiring Matthew Ferrara. Matthew is a trainer and coach and has some terrific, practical insights into social media. Plus, he’s a great presenter. Funny, engaging and straightforward. I appreciate that.

So here is the insight that led to my moment. Matthew shared the observation that the real estate industry of today was build by Baby Boomers, for Baby Boomers. Boomers (generally) are a group for whom decisions are influenced by people of authority. They have always looked to their professional expert, teacher, doctor, accountant, real estate agent for advice.

Generation X (that’s me) is a group that makes decisions by gathering information – data, stats, research, in order to make decisions. Gen X will likely include the advice from professionals, but it’s all put in a hopper and mixed together in order for the Gen X’er to make a decision. Gen Y (aka Millennials) on the other hand, make decisions based on what the collective group thinks. So, I quickly realized, for Gen Y it’s not about what the New York Times restaurant critic had to say about a restaurant.. it’s about what their peers (and by peers this is not necessarily age defined… it’s “activity” defined) thought of the restaurant on

Of course! It makes so much sense. And it clearly represents the challenge today’s real estate industry is facing in that the traditional real estate agent has less influence in the decision making process. But there is a great opportunity for brokers and agents who can understand these differences. Boomers are more likely to pick up the phone and ask for a referral. The traditional real estate model is set up for that. Gen X may do that, but we will also do our own research, talk to a couple different people, review websites in the target area and then make a decision – maybe send an inquiry. Brokers have begun to understand this and have “mostly” accommodated for this as well. Gen Y will ask all their friends if they know anyone in that area, go online to see who is blogging about the area, see who is answering questions on Trulia Voices, search Twitter for those tweeting about their target market…and ultimately make a decision based on their “activity” and influence in the online world.

Many great agents have figured this out and are out there – successfully positioning themselves as experts and garnering the leads. The next step is for the traditional brokerage model to continue to adapt and embrace the new reality of the influence of the web, social media and the influence of the collective group.

And outside of real estate, what do these generational decision making differences mean for marketers? Regardless of what you are selling, you need to understand how your audience is influenced (duh!). So if you are selling cat food know this… Boomers will look to their vet for a recommendation… so give free samples to your vet and be sure you have endorsements from the professionals. Gen X will look for research. So have a study sponsored…do a blind taste test (that would be funny) in a public place.. and then send a press release about it. Gen Y will look to the “group” – so encourage your brand advocates to blog about how much their cat loves your product. Identify the regulars online who are answering questions about cat health or participating in chat rooms and get them free samples.

If you have people at all levels talking about and endorsing your product you’ll appeal to all consumers, despite their generation.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s really the key, create a buzz so everyone is talking about your product or service, whether it’s mostly online or offline. And positioning yourself as an expert is the best strategy to garner leads online for any business, especially real estate.

  2. Steph:
    Glad to have been of help! I think you have got my points head-on. Focus on the customer – any industry, any market – and not yourself, and it becomes very easy to do a great job!

    Chat soon,
    Matthew J. Ferrara

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