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Customers no longer fit into neat, age-based demographics

Presenting at a conference recently, the opening keynote began by saying: “we are living with six generations of human, who all have different tastes and needs”.

Yep.

In marketing speak, he classified them as:

  • Traidtionallists (the World War II Generation);
  • Baby boomers;
  • Generation X;
  • Generation Y;
  • Millennials; and
  • Generation C.

I hadn’t heard of Generation C before, but he defined this generation as those born into the connected world we live in today.  An example case in point:

The baby girl in the video always gets a huge ‘aaaaahhh’ from the audience when I use the video in my presentations, but the point is that each generation was fired by a technology view that is different.

Traditionalists grew up with computing in its early days and most business done face-to-face;

Baby boomers similarly may have seen early computing, but their views would have been dominated the emergence of large scale mainframe processing engines;

Generation X were in their teens in the 1980s, and so they were the first to get into PCs;

Generation Y challenge those gone before by being the first connected generation via the internet;

Millennials are just now entering their teens and will be the most demanding technologists ever; whilst

Generation C will wonder what the world was like without 24*7 connectivity.

That does not mean you can necessarily treat each generation as distinctly dichotomised by their technology capabilities however.

Millennials may just as easily reject Facebook as Traditionalists who find it indispensable.

Therefore, we may generalise and stereotype across these generations, but the one thing that is core is that all the generations  are incorporating technology into their lives.

As I recently noted, when reviewing UK habits, we now spend  more time with devices than we do with each other.

So when someone says to me that branch is for the older clients whilst mobile banking is for the millennials, it really gets irritates me.

Banking is for everyone and everyone will do banking in the way that suits them. 

If some find it easier to do online or by mobile, they will naturally drift towards that channel
of usage.  If some want branch reassurance, then that’s where they will go.

So it is incorrect for people to delineate and state that this channel is for that age demographic or that gender.

Surely we need some categorisation of consumer preference to target the customer experience appropriately.

We sure do, and so I don’t deny that point.

What I do deny is that you can delineate technology preferences by age.

It is far more appropriate to delineate technology preference by aptitude, education, occupation and location.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Matthias Benfey

    “It is far more appropriate to delineate technology preference by aptitude, education, occupation and location.”
    Yes! Thank you, Chris. I see daily corroborating evidence with clients, colleagues, friends, family. The patterns have little to do with age, except at the extreme ends: infants 0-6 months (well, maybe 0-3 months); very elderly parents, friends and acquaintances.

  • Alvaro Cuadros

    Completely agree! In the particular c i’m implementing Digital payments (Bolivia)it is impossible to oversimplify a segmentation using only age as the key factor. education and location are the most important ones.
    Now, if we move to usage and the probability of it among population, occupation will certainly be the main factor.