Does intergenerational branding bring any advantages? How can we make sure that brands can attract audiences from multiple generations? When a brand is launching, is it better to target a specific audience or go broad? This week we talk about Tiktok, Canadian Tire and even Facebook and their strategies when it comes to attracting multiple generations.
Join our Zync brand experts as we discuss these questions – and more – in this week’s episode of #EverythingIsBrand.
Recorded on April 1, 2022.
Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s Everything is brand this week we want to talk about branding for all ages, from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Does your brand meet the need? One of the things that came out of our Ipsos discussion, a couple podcasts back was this idea of the advantages of intergenerational branding and really making sure that brands can attract audiences from multi generations. Whether it’s baby boomers, millennials, Gen Z, it seems to be that the most successful brands are able to have this broad scope. And even if the brand wasn’t designed to be for multi generations, it might have been designed for millennials. But there’s always this expansion like Tik Tok, for example, there’s now over 40 Tik Tok, so you can land on over 40 Tik Tok or you can land on over 50 Tik Tok. Does it make sense for brands to be right for all ages?
Marko Zonta: 1:06
Well, I think the first question you have to ask as a brand is, you know, is your target audience in different age groups, right, like, I mean, there are some brands that don’t necessarily want to target all age groups. Because let’s say if they are targeting a fairly young market because of their product or service, then obviously they just need to really focus on that and figure out how to connect with that particular audience. But there are a lot of brands where the audience age doesn’t really matter in the sense that they are able to actually connect with everybody where they should be able to connect with everybody just because of what they have to offer. Right. So – and some brands do that really well. And I know that Canadian Tire was brought up as an example. And as some brands obviously struggled with that. So it really comes down to knowing your audience and knowing what to do with that.
Brad Breininger: 1:56
Yeah. And it’s a little bit of an evolution, potentially, as well. Like I know, Tik Tok in the early days was all about the younger generations. But then, as it became more and more popular, they saw an opportunity to kind of go older, I guess. So it might be one thing in the beginning. And then the evolution happens further on in.
Gabi Gomes: 2:16
I think we saw the same thing with Facebook right, Facebook, started off very millennial focused. And as it evolves, you know, it’s probably the boomers now are probably what’s driving, not just but also helping, at least in the last number of years, that’s where we’ve seen the growth was in that particular age group,
Jeremy Linskill: 2:37
Would’nt you argue that hurt it, like Facebook?
Gabi Gomes: 2:41
Well, I think that begs the question of adoption by all generations, is that the measure for success? Right? Is that the measure of most influential? Obviously, it does have an impact on the influence of the brand. But does that make it successful? Yes, or No? I don’t know.
Marko Zonta: 2:58
But there is the question of, I’m just gonna go back to that Canadian Tire example quickly. You know, it’s almost like, are you creating a bit of a club, I guess, a club mentality, like, being a different ages, and shopping at Canadian Tire is perfectly fine, because you don’t you’re not necessarily seen as a follower. But something like Facebook is much more, you know, it’s social media, like, do you really want to be on social media together with your parents, as a teenager type of thing, right? So it’s a slightly different perspective. And I don’t think that it’s as easy for some brands to address all different age groups
Gabi Gomes: 3:37
I also think that they have different needs, different generations have different needs, different generations have wealth or not, let’s not kid ourselves, baby boomers are the ones with the money. So if you’re nixing that will have an impact on your business. Again, if the product isn’t a fit for that generation, then I totally get it. But something such as Canadian Tire that was useful to everybody. That one was really interesting when that information came up about Canadian Tire because I never really saw Canadian Tire as being a Gen Z millennial kind of outlet. But that kind of surprised me that it was and it makes sense. Maybe they grew up going to Canadian Tire getting their skates and stuff like that over there. And it just kind of stayed with them.
Brad Breininger: 4:25
Yeah, well, that’s a really good point, Gabi, in that there are some brands that lend themselves more to that multigenerational application, because of tradition or ritual or whatever the reason might be, but then there are other brands where as they become multigenerational, it almost signifies the death of the brand because it’s no longer appealing to different groups that it initially set out to appeal to so can you really put Tik Tok and Canadian Tire in the same bucket or are they very, very different when it comes to appealing to these wide age ranges.
Sasha Codrington: 5:04
Yeah, to Canadian Tire, it’s a little bit more natural for them because a lot of their products are so functional. Like if an 18 year old needs a blender and so does a 65 year old it’s – it’s something that doesn’t require as much push or as much marketing to get there. But another example that I was thinking of a clothing brand Carhartt, which is a very functional workwear brand that I think started in the 1800s. They recently came out with a slightly more fashion forward brand, it’s still very functional clothes, but it’s has a little bit of a spin on it, and it ended up succeeding and being really appealing to people that were into street wear. So you have a large group of construction workers, contractors wearing Carhartt, and they probably have for decades, and you also have university students wearing it to class and really proud to rep the logos on their hoodies and their beanies. And that was something that wasn’t quite as natural of a move, but they pushed the marketing, the advertising and the design and it was really successful. And like you said, it might make it slightly less appealing over the years to someone who’s been using it as a workwear brand, who’s respected the brand for a lot of years, but it has expanded their market a tonne. So there is definitely some profit there.
Brad Breininger: 6:21
Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that Sasha, because there’s quite a few brands where it’s almost like you have a group of hipsters who are ironically wearing some of these older brands, like I remember – not so much now – but there was a point in time where LL Bean was very popular, and it was kind of this outdoorsy, main based brand. But people were almost wearing it ironically, where, you know, some of these hipsters wanted to have that kind of dad wear or mom wear to kind of separate themselves from what everyone was doing in the more chic kind of fashion direction. So it almost became cool and interesting for a hot second. But that didn’t necessarily last a long time. So I think that there’s different varying degrees of when some of these brands can be quite popular with a younger and older crowd. But is it always in the best interest of the brand?
Marko Zonta: 7:17
And I would argue then in some cases, it’s almost a little bit more, it could be seen more as a campaign rather than a long lasting business plan. They identified an opportunity in the marketplace, went after it succeeded in that case, like Sasha, you were saying, but will it last a long time? Or is it basically kind of effective in a very specific period of time targeting a very specific age group. And I guess time will tell whether that can last a long time. And they’re able to just continue moving that to the younger generation, you know, as people get older, or will that kind of become less trendy, let’s call it and it will kind of die off again.
Gabi Gomes: 8:01
I sometimes wonder that there’s this big push into the Gen Zed and the millennials, because if you can get in with those two generations, that means longevity for the brand, they’ll be with you forever, they’ll be there until they’re boomers. And I wonder if sometimes if that thinking is right? I think that particular set of millennials or even Gen Zs, I think they’re gonna go, they’re gonna go away from your brand, if it doesn’t align with their values and the purpose, right? I don’t necessarily think that brands putting all their eggs in that basket of securing that generation will mean longevity. Anybody else think that?
Brad Breininger: 8:43
Well, but as any brand – does any brand.. can you guarantee longevity? I mean, I think it comes down to this idea that at the end of the day, you’re existing at a moment in time, and at that moment in time, it may seem like the world is your oyster and that you will always be successful. But we’ve seen example after example of brands that have been highly successful, and then they immediately go out of fashion due to a change in values or some sort of scandal or even to the point where they just kind of peter out or die out, even like from a retail perspective stores like Zellers – does anyone remember Zellers? Like Zellers was the hottest store to go to for so many people, and then all of a sudden, it was gone. And it’s not as if these brands get it right in the moment. And that just gives them this long, long runway. No, any brand can go at any time, depending on the will of the people, let’s say.
Jeremy Linskill: 9:42
It’s funny, because I mean, I’m a parent, so I shop at Costco. So I go into Costco and they have their big and I know we’re kind of focused on fashion, but there’s a big pool in the middle where all the clothes are. And you know, I go through – Kikland clothes. Well it’s not – that’s my point. It’s not just Kirkland. Like I almost look at It Like It’s where brands go to die. Because if it’s at Costco, it’s not cool with the kids. So I’m seeing that bench brand everywhere in Costco right now. And I mean, I remember that –
Gabi Gomes: 10:10
Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. Okay, keep going.
Jeremy Linskill: 10:14
But yeah, but like, I mean, the bench brand I always in I mean, I’m not young and hip, so – but I assume at one point bench was pretty popular with the the younger generation. And now that I see it in Costco, I guess I’m like, my immediate reaction is it’s over like they’re done. Because they’ve –
Gabi Gomes: 10:29
it’s moved on to your generation. Now. It’s, it’s no longer the kids generation
Jeremy Linskill: 10:34
I don’t think Costco was specifically targeting a generation, I think that they’re targeting the best deal. So I think it’s a bit different. But it’s like that that brand has had its moment. And now it’s just trying to make as much money as possible and get into as many places as possible.
Marko Zonta: 10:49
That’s similar to you know, how it used to be that if an artist like a musician ended up in Vegas years ago, that was kind of like, there was time for them to retire, then, of course, that kind of changed, and they actually attracted some massive stars to change that attitude. Okay, you know, I mean, some with a lot of success, and some with less, but, you know, but kind of going back to the whole point of targeting youth, I guess, to try and keep them for their entire life. Brands like McDonald’s. That’s their strategy, right? So get little children in there. And I was gonna say, banks actually do that really well, as well, because they know that a lot of people, you open your first bank account, unless something really bad happens, or you know, you have a really bad experience, you’re probably gonna stay with that bank for pretty much the rest of your life right. Now, that may not be true anymore. But a lot of people stay with the same bank for a very long time.
Jeremy Linskill: 11:50
But I don’t feel like banks appeal to kids at all. Like my kids, if you ask them what banks are there. They couldn’t tell you. The only reason they’re at a bank is because I put them there, frankly.
Marko Zonta: 12:01
Well, maybe your kids are a little bit too young. But like when university students Yeah, like they get credit cards, they get exposed to all of that, right? And you sign up and yeah, when they
Jeremy Linskill: 12:13
Brad Breininger: 12:14
own a big chunk of it. But now there’s so many disruptors in the financial services space, like when you talk about your Wealthsimples, or your Questtrades, or its brands that are coming in and really appealing. Questtrade is a good one. They have a commercial that’s I think it’s running right now, where the one brother says to the other brother, well, you’re not still trading with mum and dad’s guy, are you like, it’s almost like, if you’re still trading with your parents guy, there’s a problem, right? So I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for intergenerational branding. But there’s also an opportunity to really differentiate for brands where they don’t appeal to all of the generations, and it almost feels like it’s an exclusive purview of certain generations, or this is the Gen X brand, or the millennial brand and no boomers allowed. You remember the days when you’d build a fort and no parents allowed or no adults allowed? There’s almost like a, a certain number of brands or a certain type of brand where they can go farther by not allowing certain generations in.
Jeremy Linskill: 13:34
I mean, I think that’s what it is, I think there’s just different strategies, right? It’s like, it’s either you want to appeal to one age, or you want to keep the people moving through it. So as they age out a new band of people move into the brand, or you’re getting them at a young age and trying to keep them until they’re ancient. But yeah, like, I think there’s different strategies. And I think it comes down to the corporation to figure out what they want to do and how they want to move forward.
Brad Breininger: 14:00
Yeah, I think you give something up by not appealing across the board. Like if you think of the iPhone, for example, the iPhone, even though it’s new technology, and very modern, it appeals to pretty much every generation. And so what it’s able to do is have sales through the roof. And it’s made Apple into the largest organization in the world. But by the way, today is the anniversary of Apple 46 – started 46 years ago today. Interesting fact. But there’s real opportunity from an economic perspective to be cross generational, because I think if you look at the brands that really go huge, whether it’s an oil brand like Exxon, or whether it’s Apple or whether it’s Microsoft, or whether it’s Walmart, these are brands that don’t have a specific generation. So my question to you is, does it make more sense for that generational targeting in the early days of a brand, but the ultimate goal is to be cross generational if you really want to blow the company up?
Gabi Gomes: 15:02
Yeah, I agree with that. I think that’s the goal. But I don’t think that’s where you start,
Brad Breininger: 15:07
Jeremy Linskill: 15:08
Well, I think you mean, you only have so many marketing dollars and things like that, like, if you think about it, right, like you have to send messaging out to each of those different audiences, I think it’s really challenging to send out one message to cover the entire, you know, so as you get bigger, there’s more money, you’re able to target different audiences and things like that. But coming in, you have to kind of start somewhere, right, you have to figure out what that initial audience looks like.
Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 15:34
And to that point, there’s this concept called intergenerational influence. There are a bunch of studies about it. It’s defined as transmission of information, beliefs, and attitudes from one generation to another, right. So if you start with one generation, you could have that influence transferred to the next one, or even an older one, which is precisely what happened with Tik Tok, for example, right? Young people started using it. And then they started, including their parents in their videos. And then the parents said, Well, why can’t I do that? Right? So that influence goes through different generations. So that’s something that brands said their goal was to aim at multiple generations should consider
Sasha Codrington: 16:23
I’d say one thing that we haven’t really talked about is, there’s lots of cases of older brands appealing to younger generations, but we haven’t spoken as much about the new brands appealing to older generations. I think it’s maybe not as common, but there’s, of course, a lot of money in the older generations. And I think the barrier generally is accessibility. If there’s a new product, it’s a little bit more simple to make it easy to use for someone who’s young and up to date on all the tech. But if some of those newer companies can put in the extra effort to make it accessible for a grandparent, to use a smart thermostat, to control their lights and TV by voice, all of those things, there’s a lot of money in that as well. And I think we’re seeing that a little bit more as brands kind of sort out the user experience of their products.
Gabi Gomes: 17:08
I agree with you. I think brands could do more in that regard. I often think that the boomers are forgotten about, I look at Apple, and maybe there’s a kid who passes their phone on to a parent or whatever. But honestly, that Apple iPhone is not designed for that 70 year old who’s not tech savvy, right? Could it be? Could there be a different operating system that – or a different interface that made it more accessible? Probably. But I think companies just don’t see the need to kind of put the dollars there for the boomers. Netflix, for example, to I’d love to see the numbers on Netflix, and how many boomers are in there. There’s just so many brands that I think don’t do enough in that space. And yet, you’re right, like that is where the money is. But the one that like keeps on coming back to me is like, what about the brands that are like specifically aimed up the boomers that chip reverse mortgage commercial constantly coming up? Chip reverse mortgage, chip reverse mortgage, like that’s probably skewed a little later. Right? And it’s interesting, because my son, actually, Mom what’s a reverse mortgage? He’s 14 years old. And so I had to explain the whole reverse mortgage situation to a 14 year old, right, which was ironic to me, but he obviously picked it up. But that’s something totally not for his generation, obviously. Right. But I don’t know, I still think going back to my point on I think brands could do better for that particular segment. I think it’s often the forgotten about generation, sometimes – unless it’s a product specifically designed for them.
Brad Breininger: 18:39
Probably because they’re not seeing a runway, right, they’re not seeing a huge runway to engage that audience. So they know that perhaps, if they appeal more to you know, a few generations down that it will perhaps get to the boomers and just by osmosis more than anything, but they don’t necessarily see a long runway there. One of the issues that I think a lot of brands are facing going forward is the huge transfer of wealth that’s happening right now. So when you talk about boomers, you’re talking about a generation that is kind of on their way out of the influence side of marketing and branding, and really almost becoming the funders to the next generation. So does it make more sense for a brand to focus on those younger generations knowing that we’re in the midst of one of the largest transfers of wealth in history, and that money will eventually get to those brands?
Gabi Gomes: 19:35
Good point, I didn’t see it that way. The transfer of wealth.
Brad Breininger: 19:40
Yeah, it’s such a huge element of kind of what’s going on right now. Like, interestingly enough in the real estate market, particularly in the Toronto market, I think it was they were saying that, you know, somewhere between 30 and 60% of houses that are being bought by younger folks are being funded by the older generation. That’s one indication of the transfer of wealth. But I think that when you talk about cars, when you talk about, let’s say furniture, when you talk about other big ticket items, are a lot of the younger generations getting help with those buying decisions with the older generation? And do brands need to be aware of that and put that into their marketing mix understanding that they need to, even if they want to go after millennials, they still need to somewhat appeal to boomers because maybe some of the funding is coming from that generation.
Gabi Gomes: 20:39
That’s interesting. Okay, scenario millennial wants to buy a car. Boomer is funding it right boomers gonna want to know about that vehicle as much as that millennial is. I’ve never thought about it that way. But that totally makes sense.
Jeremy Linskill: 20:52
That’s because you’ve got kids giving seniors their phones apparently. I don’t know about guys but you were like, the young kid is handing off his phone to the senior the $1,000 phone.
Gabi Gomes: 21:04
Listen, it’s happened to me, iPads are the other one. What do you think COVID – all of these seniors, and within the last two years, all of a sudden got iPads that they have no idea how to use that we’re all gonna have to fix when something doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to.
Jeremy Linskill: 21:17
I just don’t see the young kids handing them off. I see the young kids selling them to buy their next one.
Sasha Codrington: 21:22
My old phone went to my grandma.
Gabi Gomes: 21:25
Ah ha. Thank you.
Brad Breininger: 21:27
My old phone went to my dad. Yep, same thing.
Sasha Codrington: 21:31
I think it’s happening. It requires some teaching of – Okay, let’s go through how do we set up the apps? How do we use it? How do you connect it to your iPad? How do you increase the font size all of those things, but to me, it’s that phone is not useful to me, it’s useful for them, it means they can be in contact with their family more. So I definitely see that happening, at least in my family.
Marko Zonta: 21:53
And I think with technology like that, it’s exactly the point like it’s not useful to you anymore. But it still functions perfectly fine, right? And let’s face it, the older generation is not going to use it to its optimal capability. So to make phone calls, video calls, and stuff like that, it’s still perfectly fine. So yeah, it makes sense to give it to them, and they can use it.
Brad Breininger: 22:14
And I’ve even heard of situations where an older person has said to a younger person, you buy the new one for you and give me the old one because I don’t need all of the features that you need, because you understand this much better than I do. So it almost becomes like this. I don’t know, this agreement between generations that they’re going to help each other out, one with money and one with help with the technology.
Marko Zonta: 22:37
So Jeremy, you don’t know that yet. But your next phone is coming from your children.
Jeremy Linskill: 22:42
That’s amazing. I’m very excited now.
Marko Zonta: 22:45
While you’re still gonna pay for it, but you know –
Brad Breininger: 22:49
That’s the transfer of wealth, right there. The actual transfer of wealth? Well, I think that the you know, one of the most important things and I think bringing up an example that you had earlier, Jeremy, which is Bench, I think Bench was kind of cool in the early days. And that’s how they built the brand. But the real economic opportunity is to sell at Costco, right, like having an exclusive little boutique in a certain area, they might be getting a lot of, I guess, buzz and stuff. But they’re not necessarily getting the economic impact that they’re getting when they have Bench clothing in Costcos, across North America, that all of a sudden turns the company into an economic engine, as opposed to a marketing engine, which they might have been in the beginning. And I think that for a lot of these organizations, Canadian Tire wouldn’t be who they were, if they were only selling to one generation. Walmart wouldn’t be who they were if they were only selling to one generation. And I think it’s the same with Apple, you don’t get to be this big economic powerhouse by selling only to a single generation. So I think if we take a look at the kind of the process of events, it’s almost like, let us get in there by appealing to a certain generation, let us market to that generation. Let’s get them talking and buzzing about it. And then we’ll put our feelers out to the other generation so that we can then start to build the business. That’s what’s happening with Tik Tok right now. Tik Tok has not become the largest video platform in the world, by appealing only to a single generation they have now not only do they appeal to multiple generations, but they appeal to multiple splinter groups. They have Dog Tik Tok, they have cat Tik Tok they have over 50 Tik Tok – so all of a sudden this growth and this expansion is what’s really driven the economic viability of the platform. And I think it’s true with Tik Tok. It’s true with the Bench example that you use. It’s true with Apple, everybody has an iPhone in their hand of every generation, whether they got it from their kids or whether they paid for it for their kids. Doesn’t matter how they acquired it. They all have some sort of device in their hands, and that’s the true economic impact. So if I think about what is the advantage of multigenerational, it’s the economics, right? You can’t be one of the largest organizations in the world, you can’t be a big economic powerhouse. If you’re only appealing to a small segment of the population. It doesn’t mean that it’s not important to start somewhere or to market initially to that group. But if you want to stay boutique, and you want to stay very focused on that generation, by all means, that is possible and a lot of brands choose to do that a lot of brands decide to stay very much targeted towards a specific group or a specific generation. But if you want that broad based capability if you want that broad based economic impact, the multi generational piece of it is such an important part to how you have to move forward. So that’s this week’s version of Everything is brand. Join us next time for a new topic and new discussion and remember, everything is brand.