Target Messages to the Proper Generation, Marketers Urge

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RYE BROOK, NY--Ages and dates were the prevalent themes at the Acxiom/Direct Media Consumer Co-Op here last week as marketers were told to address the Year 2000 problem and consider the advantages of generational-targeted messages.

Today's young people have more disposable income at their age than any other generation ever while those over 50 account for 78 percent of the wealth in the United States and are reaching the stage in life when they will start spending more on themselves, according to generational consultants Ann Fishman and Michael Rybarski.

Yet reaching these universes soon will become problematic for marketers that have failed to correct the Y2K problem by reconfiguring their computer systems to read the next century as 2000 instead of 1900.

Donald Libey, president of Libey Inc., Haddon Heights, NJ, warned mailers that the process of changing computer code is time-consuming and used an example of a company that started working on the problem in 1995 and still is not finished as a call to action. He also advised marketers to consult with all their suppliers to ensure readiness throughout the operation.

Those ready to move forward are advised to scrap a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. Marketers have to realize that what is relevant to them is not relevant to everyone else. By understanding the makeup of each generation, they can tailor messages that embrace rather than insult a target market.

"People are shaped by what they've been through and generational characteristics stay with us our whole lives,'' said Fishman, president of Generational-Targeted Marketing Corp., New Orleans. "The goal is to attract one generation without offending the others.''

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