Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

As I was shaving with a disposable razor this morning - not my usual razor - I began thinking about the power of generational marketing. One way of segmenting markets is by looking at the various generations: Matures (b. 1909-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1976) and Millennials/Gen Y (1977-1994). We're well aware that the Baby Boomers are the largest generation, followed by the Millennials, hence such the interest in both.

As I was using the disposable two-blade, I thought about my Gillette Mach3 Turbo razor and was reminded of how I got to use the Gillette brand in the first place. In the late 80s / early 90s, Gillette made an incredibly smart marketing move: they purchased the mailing list of the Selective Service. If you're not familiar with the Selective Service system, every male in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25 must register, in case there's the need for a military draft.

Gillette sent their new (at the time) razor, the Sensor, to every registrant. For reference, Gillette makes more money on their blades than they do on the razor mechanism itself - it's similar to the computer printer model, in which printers are priced affordably and the cartridges are expensive. Each and every young male that registered got a free razor and set of blades from Gillette, essentially giving them the opportunity to be Gillette customers for life. I don't know what the long-term adoption rate for Gillette was, but I can guarantee you that it got more men thinking about their products than just advertising would have done.

But it got me to thinking more broadly: how many opportunities are there for marketers to really affect an entire generation? It seems like a tall order in this minute-by-minute attention-starved generation. But if it's something as simple as what Gillette did, such an experience has the potential to stick - especially since word of mouth (online and offline) can help such efforts grow.

Are there other campaigns that you know of that have affected entire generations that way? Or are there opportunities that you foresee for current brands to have this kind of impact? Drop me a comment and let's discuss it.

Photo credit: Brian Warren (Flickr)