PR Word of the Week #34: the Silent generation

How do you market to this group of Silent Generation-ers

For the next few weeks I will be helping communicators understand and market towards the different generations in our society, from Generation Z to the Silent Generation.

This week, I will concentrate on the Silent Generation.

In the November 5, 1951 cover story of Time, the term “silent generation” was used for the first time.

The article said:

Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today’s younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the “Silent Generation.”

Times haven’t changed, the older generation always assumes the younger generation has it easier than they did.

Silent Generation defined

Silent Generation is a label for the generation of Americans born from 1925–1945 notably during the Great Depression (1929–1939) and World War II (1939–1945).

Tips to communicating with the Silent Generation

ADWEEK.com wrote an article about marketing to the silent generation.

The article references a Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey released last month that says 60 percent of respondents age 65-plus said they feel younger than their actual age.

So, how do you address people who are old, by conventional measures, but whose self-perception and physical condition doesn’t match up with the standard understanding of what “old” means?

Here is what the article says:

  • Choose a spokesperson that can relate to the audience, but don’t exaggerate. Choose models and situations that show individuals to be active and involved. But, don’t use a 75-year-old jet skier to attract the Silent Generation, they just see that as silly.
  • It may be a cliche and a stereotype, but it works: the image of a grandparent. In the Pew poll, a question asked the 65-plusers to cite the one thing they value most about getting older. The top two answers were “having more time with family” (28 percent) and “spending time with grandchildren” (25 percent). But think beyond the grandparents giving toys, a new phenomenon called “grandtravel”, where grandparents take their grandchildren on trips without the parents, is increasingly becoming more popular.
  • The sense of connectedness and a social life is important with the Silent Generation, 83 percent of respondents age 65-74 and 80 percent of those 75-plus said there are people other than family members on whom they can rely “for social activities and companionship.”
  • Don’t assume seniors have more times on their hands just because they are older and retired. The article says: “They’re not anxious to be wasting time. Some marketers treat them as if they need to be rescued from a life of boredom –scarcely the way this audience feels about itself.”
  • If you are writing articles or copy, make sure it is grammatically correct. This generation is known to know good grammar.
  • Be respectful when communicating with this generation. The Pew survey asked respondents to identify some of the good things they experience in growing older, “getting more respect” was cited by 56 percent of the 65-74s and 62 percent of the 75-plusers. As such, it also stands to reason that older consumers don’t like being pushed around by ads.
  • Proof point are important when communicating a financial transaction. Most of today’s 65-plusers either grew up with the Depression or more likely had the lessons of the Depression taught to them hard by their parents. Today they are cautious. So you need to prove that there’s a need for something new.

Finally, from my own experience, I would add:

  • Don’t assume the Silent Generation has disregarded or doesn’t use Facebook. According to a Nielsen Wire article, in the last five years, the number of seniors actively using the Internet has increased by more than 55 percent. Not only are there more seniors using the internet, but they are also spending more time on the web. Time spent on the Internet by seniors increased 11 percent in the last five years.

What do you think? Are you part of the Silent Generation? How do you want communicators to connect with you? Have you run a campaign aimed to the Silent Generation? what are your tips to marketing to this generation? Leave your comment below.

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