Targeting Millennials? Don't Throw The Baby Boomers Out With The Bathwater

“We’ve got to attract the Millennials!” has become the battle cry of businesses – not just financial institutions, but retailers, restaurants, app makers, and more. The thinking is that this in-demand demographic can be wooed by avocado toast and a spectacular user interface … and marketers are finding that it’s just not that easy.

Understanding your audience is as important as it’s ever been. And misconceptions abound when it comes to Millennials and Generation Z. It’s vital that you not only understand who this market is, but that you’re taking their needs into account and not lending too much credence to those stereotypes.


If you were to believe what you read, you’d think that Millennials have killed cable TV, breakfast cereal, chain restaurants, and even banking. But you know that banking isn’t dead – otherwise you’d be on a beach flipping through a NYT bestseller instead of reading this post – it just needs to adjust.

As technology and people have evolved, so must the way financial institutions promote their products and services. What has been successful for your organization historically likely needs to change in order to stay competitive. Each generation has different needs, different communication preferences, different goals. The Silent Generation may not be waiting for you to implement voice banking so it can use Siri or Alexa to transfer money from one account to another and Generation Z isn’t hanging out on Facebook with their parents waiting to hear about your new checking account.

So where can you find them? Generation Z is partial to online ratings and reviews and brand partnerships with social media influencers. As expected, Millennials prefer to be targeted digitally – across a variety of devices and channels. Gen X is receptive to a mix of traditional and digital – direct mail and print ads along with digital display and paid search. The Baby Boomer audience isn’t as strictly traditional as you might think. Though direct mail and television and print ads are effective for this group, they’re not technology averse – this audience wants information and will seek it online.

The methods and the means may vary from one generation to the next, but understanding their preferences allows you to meet each group where they are.

GAL Blog Post Updates 071718.jpg


Acquiring new households and attracting a younger customer base should not come at the expense of your Generation X (and older) base. Why? Though Millennials may outnumber any other generation, Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation and will remain that way for at least another decade.

A 2017 study of the Galapagos Peer Database showed that Baby Boomers and Gen X customers had the highest aggregate household value by generation. While household value growth for Millennials and Gen Z is projected to grow over the next ten years, Boomers are still extremely valuable to your customer base.

So yes, younger audiences are a desired target, but their contemporaries are still relevant, still valuable, and they want many of the same things the coveted younger demos do: easy banking and products that work. And perhaps not surprisingly, each generation expresses a strong desire for transparency – an important factor to consider when designing and promoting your products.

GALAPAGOS-Generation Data - HH Value.jpg

Okay, but now what?

If ALL audiences are important and they ALL deserve your attention, where does that leave you? Your mission is to review your product and service offering, to understand the generational differences (hint: scroll up, right click, then “Save Picture As” and refer to that graphic later … and often) and adjust your promotion strategies accordingly.

Each campaign strategy should not only clearly identify who your target audience is, but thoughtfully consider the communication preferences of that audience in order to maximize the success of your efforts.

It’s going to take more than avocado toast, but it is possible to win over this discerning crowd. And that phenomenal user interface? It’s probably safe to say that every segment of your audience wants that.

Maybe it’s not just the Millennials – perhaps it’s bigger than that. Be thoughtful, be smart, and take the time to truly assess your market composition and where your opportunities for revenue growth and expansion reside and how your product and service offering aligns.

Need help gauging your market opportunity or composition of your customer base? We can help with that. When it comes to avocado toast, though, you’re probably on your own.