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Posted By ECT News Network on 06/13/2019 in Security

Marketing Technology Across the Boomer-Gen Z Divide

Marketing Technology Across the Boomer-Gen Z Divide

Maxim Frolov 

Advancements in technology have made the world feel smaller than ever before, yet the gap between generations continues to widen. Dramatic differences are evident in the lifestyles, values and habits of various age groups. Perhaps most noticeable, though, is a substantial difference in how the generations perceive technology and cybersecurity.

Generation X, as the last generation to have grown up in a world without advanced technology, tends to remain inherently cautious and slow to adopt new technology. A Gen X-er is more likely to keep a close eye on online data and finances. Millennials, in contrast, are more comfortable with technology -- yet they generally take the security of their data for granted. In fact, four-in-five millennials indicated they were happy to trust the safety of their data to organizations.

Born squarely into the Internet era, members of Generation Z understand technology on an intuitive level. Gen Z-ers are often quick to separate their public and private digital lives. While they may spend a substantial amount of their lives in front of a screen, 81% use privacy settings to limit who can actually see what they share on social media.

With such a vast difference in the way each generation approaches technology and privacy, it becomes a challenge for technology companies to market essential digital services to all potential customers, regardless of age. How can these companies demonstrate their value to customers and formulate their offerings to meet the varying needs of generations?

Using Core Needs to Bridge the Gap

The good news is that although attitudes and behaviors regarding technology may differ, there are many similarities when it comes to key needs across generations. For example, in the cybersecurity industry, there are three standard resources that will always require cybersecurity protection whether consumers are of Generation X, Y or Z:

Devices. Device security has become widely familiar in the 21st century. While the younger generation often has enough inherent knowledge to protect themselves from basic threats, consumers of all ages need to know how to keep their PCs, Macs, and any mobile operating systems safe and always accessible.

Money. The changing payment landscape has made it more difficult to protect our money. The times of just paying with the cash in our pocket are long gone. Today, using a debit or credit card is by far the most popular method -- with four-in-five people (81%) using plastic to complete online purchases. E-wallets (such as PayPal) and cryptocurrencies are gathering momentum, too. But as money goes digital, consumers are becoming more concerned about safeguarding it from modern-day pickpockets -- cybercriminals.

Personal data. As high-profile breaches continue to make news headlines with unsettling regularity, data privacy fears show no sign of abating. In fact, recent research found that data breaches are a top source of stress for consumers. Therefore technology companies should carefully consider how they protect their customers' personal data and privacy.

Any technology marketer can apply this logic. There are certain needs and desires that remain constant across generations; the key is simply identifying what those essentials are with respect to the company's product or service.

A Question of Trust

Whether designed for the office or the home, for any technology to become truly transformative, it must inherently enhance a user's daily life. However, as people from all generations demand greater security, trust has become nearly as important as functionality in determining whether a consumer uses a technology product.

In fact, a recent survey found that across all three generations, 85% of consumers said that they needed to trust a tech brand before making a purchase. Today, consumers' behavior is increasingly defined by whether or not the brand they are purchasing from has their best interests in mind.

Cross-generational trust remains imperative to any new digital service or innovation striving to become a success. Technology organizations that have garnered a trustworthy reputation have enhanced their likelihood of selection, purchase or renewal. Therefore, trust should be a key message in any marketing communications, regardless of the target age group.

A Granular Approach, and Maintaining a Balance

While some core values remain the same among tech buyers of all ages, there is still a wide range of values that differ among the generations. With an acceptance that each generation has different purchasing drivers, should organizations tailor their messaging and offerings accordingly for each age group?

In truth, the answer is both "yes" and "no." A technology company's marketing strategy shouldn't be defined by age alone; a more granular approach can actually be a more accurate way to communicate. All millennials are not the same, for example. One may be single and a mid-level manager at an accounting firm, while another may be married with two kids and play in a symphonic orchestra.

Imagine a company has five defined target audiences, including "digital office workers" or "high school teenagers." This is only the tip of the iceberg; each of these five groups contains around 10 more granular types of audience segments.

Once narrowed down, these granular audiences contain perhaps 10 to 15 different personas. They could include a teenager from a wealthy family who has access to the most advanced gadgets, for example, or a young IT enthusiast responsible for the entire family's devices.

It is therefore important for organizations to consider hundreds of granular personas when planning their marketing communications, going beyond just age. A company can then ensure that marketing and sales efforts use a more targeted approach that can reach both a wide range of potential customers and specific subsets of people.

While there is undoubtedly a gap between the different generations' attitudes towards technology and the privacy issues that surround it, there is perhaps more commonality than meets the eye. Regardless, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when marketing technology, as users' attitudes and actions inevitably vary.

It is ineffective to write off these differences as generalizations based on the year the customer was born. Organizations that produce and sell technology in any sphere should maintain a balance between broad values, like the user experience, and individual values for each target audience.

About the Author
Maxim Frolov is Vice President of Global Sales at Kaspersky Lab.

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