How Do You Market to Perennials?

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century.” So she came up with the classification of Perennials.

Stereotyping Generations — Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, Perennials… and no, I’m not talking daisies, hostas or lilies (#plantnerd).

As a subscriber to a number of e-newsletters like theSkimm, The Hustle and NextDraft, I enjoy a lot of the world and national news brought to me, in a quick-take, often sassy format. And in the April 5 issue of NextDraft, I found out about Perennials.

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century,” regarding shoehorning people into just being their generation.

She wanted to regard them by mindset … something that’s a bit different for marketers, who are classically used to segmenting prospects and customers by demographics, such as age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, religion.

In a post she wrote in October 2016 — titled, “Meet the Perennials” — Pell breaks the group down into this:

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation.

Who’s not a Perennial? Someone who is close-minded, and who looks at life like a timeline, i.e., “By 30 I must accomplish this, this and this. By 40 I will have a growing family and will have reached management status. By 50 it’s time to slow down.”

Okay, so, as someone who is in the upper-age bracket of the Millennial generation, this speaks to me on some levels. I get sick and tired of being lumped into a group that can span nearly 20 years (I have very little in common with a 22-year-old, much less 15-year-old). That said, I face the a lot of the same challenges: dealing with student loan debt; struggling with job security; etc.

But while writing that sentence, it made me realize: hasn’t every generation dealt with those issues, too? In their own ways?

Pell closes her post with:

Being a Millennial doesn’t have to mean living in your parent’s basement, growing an artisanal beard, and drinking craft beer. Midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis. And you don’t have to be a number anymore. You’re relevant. You’re ever-blooming. You’re Perennial.

I appreciate the sentiment. But for marketers, how do you market to this group? Do you toss out demographic data, and instead focus on values? And is it worth it?

You tell me. And tell me what you think of the idea of Perennials … is it fitting, or just another buzzword-to-be?

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

6 thoughts on “How Do You Market to Perennials?”

  1. I like it. I am a Perennial. Psychographic marketing has long been a powerful tool but much more challenging to use effectively.

    1. Psychographic — I love that term. I would consider myself a Perennial too. As someone who has friends and acquaintances of all different ages and economic backgrounds, I do notice that it is one’s outlook and values that shape lifestyle and many decisions more so than age.

  2. As one at the end of the boomers, I’m all for finding a different way to classify me. Some days I would fit into Perennials, other days it would more of a Dormant phase…

  3. Just like you promote WWTT, I’m all about HDIUI (How Do I Use It). I’m past the Boomer stage and definitely a Prennial but when I apply my marketing definition – “It’s what we do to INFLUENCE the next sale” – how do I connect with and speak to my perennial prospect who I am trying to WOO or the perennial customer I am trying to WOW? Someone help me, please.

    1. Great questions … I think it’s a bit harder, because you’re looking for prospects and customers who have a shared value system, not just clear-cut demographics. It takes a bit of extra legwork, but if you can draw Perennials to you, there’s the start. Thanks for commenting!!!

  4. I remember when the local rock clubs would promote “all ages” shows that were scheduled in a way to encourage fans too young to drink to still come in and rock out. Sure, each life phase has its own unique needs, wants, and dreams. But marketing as an “all ages” show? I like that.

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