Sizwe Dlamini
Sizwe Dlamini

Digital transformation is multigenerational

by Sizwe Dlamini. Digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about people.

by Sizwe Dlamini. Everyone has a human right to count – digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about people. If you work in the brand or marketing space, you probably know that segmenting audiences hardly ever plays by the book. Digital transformation has brought about innovation and efficiency in delivering products and services to clients. At the same time, it has transformed traditional marketing into a new dimension. Alongside this digital journey, the purchasing consumer has become increasingly multigenerational.

While generational segmentation can help you figure out the best way to engage with certain age groups – and even clue you into what products and services might appeal to them – it’s only one constituent of your target-audience personas. Really, age is one of the least meaningful indicators of who a person is – people prefer to be identified by what they do and what they care about. Using generational cues as a form of high-level guidance, and nothing more, is a wise decision. Individuals from across generational groups have a lot more in common than we realise.

Growing up, Gen Xers saw a lot. They lived through the energy crisis, the Chernobyl disaster, the Challenger disaster, and other significant events. They have watched the rise of MTV, the PC, video games, cable television, mobile phones, the internet, email, and of course, social media.

Ignore Gen X at your peril

Gen X wields significant buying power. They are now in their prime earning years. According to KPMG: Generation X are the most active online shoppers among the different age groups, Generation X consumers (born between 1966 and 1981) make more online purchases than any other age group. Interestingly, despite the common belief that the upswing in online shopping is largely driven by the younger and more ’tech-savvy‘ Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001); Generation X consumers in fact made 20% more purchases last year than their younger counterparts. Their stage of life and income levels are certainly primary factors driving both online and offline shopping, and Generation X consumers, many of which are more established in their careers and building homes, should not be forgotten.

The Generation X buyer persona

“They know what they want and what they like and most importantly who they are. Recognising this creates an opportunity for marketers to appeal to this population with a genuine and realistic campaign that Gen Xers can identify with,” says Joe Stagaman, EVP, Advertising Effectiveness Analytics at Nielsen. The fact is, this generation came of age during a period of rampant inflation and widespread unemployment. Derisively referred to as the MTV Generation, they witnessed the rise of tabloid journalism, the prevalence of mass media and the dawn of the digital era. They have high media literacy and are famously cynical, so generation X communications often demands wit and sophistication.

Do companies have to pick a generation to cater to?

These different views and expectations might not be unsolvable but have implications. For one, companies need to implement and use digital technology without neglecting classical communication channels and services. Partnering with a digital specialist who understands that Millennials may be the future of customers and are growing more influential each day; whilst also understand how to mould the digital experiences for the older generations, is vital to the success of a shift to digital.

It’s not necessarily the product companies are offering that needs to be changed. It’s rather the customer experience and journey tied to the product. Marketing, sales and customer service need to be available for both customer groups with no gaps in the experience. More so, generational labels are only a small piece in understanding a person’s identity and crafting customer experience. Factors like gender, family structure, geological location and so much more contribute to someone’s viewpoint and behaviour.


Main image credit: Photo by Ola Dapo from Pexels.



Sizwe Dlamini is head of commercial at Idea Hive, brand storytellers. At Idea Hive we create and execute pioneering Brand Storytelling Solutions to illuminate your brand’s power. We apply a strategic framework which extracts and aligns all the key components of your brand’s story.



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