Innovation Marketing in a mid-age decision-maker market

Analyzing modern day marketing, we cannot ignore that the look & feel of visual and textual messaging has become overwhelmingly millennial-focused. But this tendency could be based on a misconception of market dynamics, in particular purchasing power in the market. While millennials and zoomers are becoming more important as consumer groups, the bulk of purchases is still generated and paid for by boomers and gen X.

This is what many companies, particularly startups, are getting fundamentally wrong. In creating and overemphasizing a hype with their desired customers, they are neglecting and creating barriers for consumer groups that have real power-of-the-purse. Likes and shares on social media, positive reporting in startup media, and even word-of-mouth marketing success among like-minded and same-age consumers, are useless for business success if they don’t convert into sales.

User groups and buyer groups are not necessarily the same

Successful sales of innovative high-priced products/services require the possessive desire of the millennial or zoomer user. But the user may not be able to actually purchase the product. As a consumer, they do not yet have sufficient purchasing power, as a B2B customer, they won’t be in the right position yet to make corporate purchasing decisions. Hence, products or services that will likely be used by millennials and zoomers, also need the approval of the boomer or gen X purchaser. If your marketing neglects this fundamental necessity, the chances are high that your sales will never reach their full potential.

Onboarding buyers, while not turning off the intended users

Business success is about nowness and your key to success is to onboard your boomer and gen X audience on a trip into the new decade. And with these groups, it is essentially about change, which is always initially perceived as a threat. Onboarding boomers and x’ers on the ride and persuading them to become the enablers of positive change will help you achieve your sales objectives. But it’s a tricky business.

To familiarize millennials and zoomers with a new mindset requires utilizing their platforms and tools. If you hit the right buttons and trigger desire, you can create a hype for products, which is only amplified by the fact that it is accessible only to a chosen few.

At the same time, a product that is hyped by millennials and zoomers may not have a high appeal to boomers and x’ers. Older generations tend to have a different understanding of the term “must have”. Even in a business environment, new technologies that would increase efficiency and also effectiveness may be ignored if the gatekeeper refuses to recognize that the benefits outweigh the costs. Simply because they can.

Using battle tactics to familiarize buyer groups

Gentle and playful positioning, triggering the aggressive superiority thinking of millennials and zoomer users with regard to new technologies, paves the way to creating high demand in both the user and the buyer groups. Age competition is a thing with millennials and zoomers users.

Seems familiar? Well … we all remember our grandparents being lost with computers and the internet and our parents being lost with mobile devices and apps.

And the response is so predictable. Initially, the influential members of older generations tend to try to show the younger generations that they, too, can do it. For x’ers this may coincide with midlife-crisis thinking, which could increase the desire to be able to compete with younger generations. Be that as it may, importantly, it is the competitive thinking of the older generations that will spark the fire. Because in the familiarization process they will learn to understand the benefits of the new.

Once you have familiarized boomers and x’ers with the notion that the new product has its merits, you want to expand on the thought that these groups can make personal gains by acquiring them. For example, it is likely that boomer and x’er executives can implement new technology to help their division exceed its KPIs. This in turn will help the executives achieve their own KPIs. Or, perhaps, and thinking in much lighter categories, the gain will be that the executives can leave the office on a Friday, in the afternoon, rather than late at night.  

Highlighting the user benefits and the buyer gains is the key to successful innovation marketing. Because eventually, always, at some point (this could be early or late main market) older generations will realize that ‘giving’ new technology to younger generations is necessary.

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Author: Joe Wiedemann
Joe Wiedemann is a partner of BLACK DOLPHIN, a communications consultancy in Germany, Austria and UK. He is specialized in communication strategy, brand development, content management & creation, PR, and large network coordination. Joe joined the Black Dolphin collaborative as a Vienna-based communication expert with 20+ years of successfully advising SMEs, startups, and internationals. Joe has worked for agencies, like Edelman, and has held global PR management positions at Deutsche Post/DHL Express, Hyundai Motor, and Borgward Group AG.