Bridging the Generational Gap

Different generations do things differently and bridging the generational gap can be a trick in itself. 2016 has experienced some major changes in how the different generations view each other. The year’s only half done.

We’ve witnessed a massive conflict generations in the United Kingdom with Brexit, in which the divide is pretty clearly split across the generational divide. The new (and successful!) Star Wars has allowed grandparents, parents and children to talk to each other about something other than changes in fashion, the price of bread, and ‘that horrible stuff you call music’.

And now there’s PokémonGo

What is PokemonGo?

If you were a child anywhere after 1996, you’d have grown up with pokémon. There were cards to collect, video games to play, television series to keep track of, movies to watch and millions of dollars worth of merchandising that you just had to have. I myself still have the Pikachu stuffed animal that I insisted on having, and I’m pretty sure many of us still have the card decks we studiously collected, traded and won. Pokémon have been a Millennial obsession.

We now have competition for that obsession:

“Omg! The sweetest thing just happened! I was sitting here watching Netflix when all of a sudden I hear two cute little knocks at my front door. A boy and a girl, like 12. I asked what’s up? They said, “excuse me, sir, but there’s a pikachu in your backyard and my sister and I were wondering if we can go in and catch it?” I look down at these two young Pokémon trainers and see myself in the little boy. So I slam the door and run to the back yard. GUESS WHO HAS A PIKACHU…” [Source]

Which raises the question for the uninitiated: what in the name of all that is holy is PokémonGo?

First, we have to assume by this stage that you’ve been hiding under a rock the entire month, but we’ll forgive you and explain. Basically, it’s the latest outbreak of what’s been fondly referred to as ‘pokémania’ [source]. A free Android and iOS based game that involves using your phone to find and ‘catch’ pokémon in the real world.

Creating a Product that Closes the Generational Gap

When a new product or service is launched, marketers tend to target a specific demographic. We pick who, what, where, and why – it’s easier to track the impact this way and we can better guarantee positive outcomes.

Say we’re in charge of creating an advertisement campaign for the latest smartphone. We’ll be targeting the younger Millennial generation and Gen Zs, people who are ‘good’ at adapting to new technology and are eager to upgrade at every given opportunity. We might segment even further, maybe we’ll aim at the male population, specifically in western Europe and North America rather than Asia and Oceania. Every segmentation made will determine the style and design of the advertisement: what colours we’ll use, whether we use a voice-over – what type of voice we’ll use! – what message we really want to send. Why do we want you to buy this phone? Because it’s cool, and it’ll help you win the attention of gorgeous women like Scarlett Johansson.

How we market well we market the product will determine how many sales we make and that means knowing our target audience.

Now imagine we’re twenty years into the future when Gen Z is in full-swing and are baffled by the super-virtual-worlds of the Alpha Generation (assuming that’s what we’re going to call them! [source]). We come up with a brand new smartphone-equivalent that we Millennials find just as interesting and easy to get into as our Alpha grandkids.

Congratulations, we’ve successfully closed the generational gap and created an omni-generation product that sells to pretty much everyone on the planet. Nice work. Bonuses all around.

Entertainment values aside: This is what Star Wars: The Force Awakens accomplished. This is why everyone is talking about and playing PokémonGo.

What’s the big fuss?

The generational gap is often ignored because it can be incredibly difficult to bridge them. Why would you waste time, effort and money attempting to market to the entire world when you can narrow your target and generate better ROIs?

From a sales and marketing perspective both Star Wars and PokémonGo are powerful examples of the possibilities that are out there. Innovative ideas sprung out of ideas from the older generation can give rise to powerful opportunities to create better communication across the generational gap.

For those of us in business, understanding these innovations and really learning what makes them tick can give us deeper insight into our marketing and sales strategies.

And it never hurts to have a little fun on the side. Just remember, work first, pokémon later.

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