Advertising Strategies and Lessons

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Digital Advertising Across Generations: A Look At How COVID Changed What Audiences Want & Need

November 25, 2020 Sarah Cavill

There have been a lot of lessons learned in 2020, and one of them is how adaptable people can be. Baby Boomers, who previously prioritized shopping in person, suddenly went online for groceries, and Gen Zers, who previously only danced on TikTok, turned the popular app into a hub for news and information during multiple global events. New behaviors and habits emerged across generations, and brands that stayed agile were able to connect with their audiences as their behaviors evolved. 

Shifting Cultural Norms In 2020 Led Generations To Adapt Differently

Shutterstock_1683011629 Handsome young man working at home with a laptop with a baby on his hands. Stay home concept. Home office with kids.

The story of how consumers and brands evolved to survive and thrive in 2020 will be told for many years to come, with the tale likely to include many twists and turns. There wasn’t one solution to any problem, and audiences more accustomed to hunkering down (looking at you Gen X) approached quarantine with different attitudes than Millennials stuck at home with young kids. How brands met varying needs, with products, services and relatable digital advertising campaigns, is likely to make a difference moving forward into the next year when the focus transitions to repeat business and brand loyalty. Obviously, many generations share similarities, but the distinctive characteristics of generational groups can offer opportunities for brands to make lasting impressions. 

Here is a roundup of DMS Insights articles that portray recent trends in digital advertising across generations.

The Life Experience Of Gen Xers Is Reflected In Their Superior Self-Isolation Behaviors

Gen Xers grew up fending for themselves and making the best of boring situations, which may have uniquely prepared them for life in a pandemic. The latchkey kids of the eighties were the generation most ready for stay-at-home orders that allowed more time for video games, eating processed foods and catching up on favorite TV shows.

Baby Boomers Are Online, And Brands Are Following

The pandemic accelerated the interest of brands in the buying power and influence of Baby Boomers. Although early on it was Gen X that quickly settled into staying at home and the new behaviors quarantining required, Baby Boomers also adjusted their previously preferred habits to embrace online shopping, at-home delivery options and virtual experiences.

Younger Generations Are Turning To Instagram And TikTok For Their News

Throughout 2020, younger consumers turned to social media for news and connection as crises on multiple fronts urged them to become more involved as activists and citizens. During this same period, many brands partnered with apps like TikTok to create relatable, authentic content for Gen Z consumers who heavily scrutinize the social responsibility values of brands.

Babytech Is A Growing Industry For Growing Families

Millennials are the largest living generation with the greatest purchasing power; they are extremely tech savvy and tech reliant, and more than a million Millennials have become moms since 2016. This is a generation that asks a lot from brands and wants the best, most efficient tools for all their daily tasks, including raising kids. During the pandemic, Millennial parents turned to online platforms for help with everything from homeschooling to emotional well-being

For more advertising news from DMS Insights about consumers adapting during COVID-19, click here.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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