||Behind a Major Generational Divide
Boomers and Millennials Are Wired Differently
If your mom tells you she's not wired to watch mobile video, don't be too surprised. A new study from Nielsen breaks down the differences between two hugely influential generations, the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, and finds that one major distinction is how they process information.
Younger brains are most stimulated by dynamic elements such as rich media, lighting or rotations, while an aging brain is more easily distracted. As the brain ages it slowly loses the ability to suppress distraction.
These differences are key to developing advertising that will appeal to both groups. While both generations are heavy users of technology, Millennials tend to own more new technology, like smartphones, laptops and game consoles, while Boomers stick with TV and remain partial to land lines.
Interestingly, the youngest of the Boomers are approaching their 50th birthday. Though advertisers continue to focus on adults 18-49, this aging generation still controls 70 percent of disposable income in the United States.
Beth Brady, global head of marketing effectiveness at Nielsen, talked to Media Life Magazine about the biggest differences between these generations, what to keep in mind when targeting them with advertising, and how Boomers are driving adoption of new technology.
What's the most interesting or most surprising thing you found out in this report? And what's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from it?
The most interesting thing we found is that Boomers and Millennials are neurologically hardwired to process information differently.
This should be taken into account when choosing media platforms and formats for campaigns that seek to reach these specific groups.
For example, a Nielsen NeuroFocus study of online advertising found that Boomers' memory retention of static ads in an online environment was much stronger than Millennials, while both remembered dynamic ads at a similar rate.
In what surprising ways are Boomers and Millennials alike?
Boomers and Millennials are both proven to connect with messages, images and characters that they can personally identify with.
Additionally, both enjoy the use of humor in advertisements, but Boomers connect with clever, light-hearted humor, while Millennials are drawn to offbeat, often sarcastic humor.
Some advertisers might also be surprised to learn that Boomers are more connected than one might assume. Though 93 percent of Millennials use the Internet, Boomers aren't far behind, with 82 percent using the Internet.
What is the single biggest difference between the two generations, at least as far as advertisers are concerned?
The biggest difference between Boomers and Millennials is what resonates with them, so while the two generations do both identify with characters and situations similar to themselves and their experiences, it's important that both creative and planning agencies take time to understand what makes their audiences unique, and then attempt to connect with those things in an authentic way.
How quickly are Boomers adapting to new technology? How far behind Millennials do they tend to fall?
There is no doubt that younger generations are the first to adopt new technologies, but once they go mainstream, it's actually the Boomers' adoption that is driving the real growth.
Boomers' adoption of tablets doubled between 2011 and 2012, and they comprise 33 percent of all online and social media users.
How do neuro differences impact how Boomers and Millennials will respond to advertising?
From an advertising perspective, it's widely believed that tailoring your messaging is the fundamental way to reach your audience, but we've learned that even more subtle differences in the composition of advertisements can determine whether or not a message will be correctly processed by a younger or aging brain.
The aging brain responds well to repetition, and believes familiar messages to be true. Additionally, the Boomer brain has a harder time suppressing distractions, but also is better at sustaining its attention and therefore is able to absorb larger quantities of information when presented in a simple manner.
The Millennial brain is more visual and more likely to be engaged by dynamic elements such as lighting or motion. It also has a high multi-sensory processing capacity, which means it's more likely to be responsive to multi-sensory communications, such as interactive web sites.
How do advertisers target them differently?
Advertisers use a variety of methods to connect with their audiences; some are hit or miss while some are largely successful.
There is a myriad of things to consider when attempting to connect with Boomers and Millennials and with the dynamics of both generations changing, aging, developing and adopting new technology, advertising approaches in reaching these audiences should be equally dynamic.
While nuances exist among both groups that that may require a more tailored approach, some ads can transcend age and resonate across the board, proving that good advertising is both art and science.
(Source: Diego Vasquez, Media Life Magazine, 06/27/13)