In the antecedent of need and need recognition stages, “needs” originate from the imbalance between a person’s actual state and their desired state (Sethna and Blyth, 2016, 74). A person’s desired state will be conceptualised through many individual variables including various, desires, motivations, situational factors and responses to stimuli.
The formulation of needs is different for each generation precisely because of differing underlying motivations and desires; largely influenced by age for health-related products. Millennials are not interested in age-related health products, whereas Generation X desire anti-aging products that help hide or slow the aging process and Baby Boomers desire products that allow them to age well (Mintel, Mature Beauty: Attitudes towards aging, 2015). Millennials therefore have different needs to other generations and will therefore buy different products. For example, products designed to meet age-related needs are aimed at Baby Boomers, such as Oasis Age Essential Anti-Aging mouthwash, in line with the fact that 71% of over 65s feel that age impacts on the appearance of their teeth (Mintel, Oral Care: Factors impacting on appearance of teeth, 2016).
Individual motives also vary across the generations. In gym and fitness club membership, Millennials are more motivated by the desire to maintain and improve their fitness, weight and appearance, whereas Baby Boomers are motivated staying active, preventing age-related health problems and maintaining wellbeing (Mintel, Health and Fitness Clubs: Scope for expansion, 2013). Companies are marketing to these differentiated motivations. Nuffield Health positions itself as a “wellbeing” brand aimed at Baby Boomers, offering services such as wellbeing physiologists (Mintel, Health and Fitness Clubs: Market Drivers, 2013; Nuffield Health, 2017).
In “Information Search”, there is a relationship between individual variables and environmental variables that explains key differences between the generations. Millennials lack prior experience and memories to help them decide on health product choices compared to other generations. This may explain why in terms of environmental variables, Millennials most likely to the Internet to source product information (Harmon et al., 1999, 35). 34% of Millennials have sought reviews or recommendation for facial skincare products online, compared to 25% across other generations (Mintel, Social Media: Desired type of Information, 2015). Generation X also use the internet, but online forums and communities such as mumsnet.com (Mintel, Social Media: The Consumer, 2015). Baby Boomers are the least likely to research health products online (Mintel, Mature beauty: Interest in beauty trends, 2015). They tend to use their previous consumer experiences and memories to inform their product decision making; when changing skincare product to address age-related skin needs, 51% of over 55s use a new product from a skincare brand they already know (Mintel, Mature Beauty: Purchase, 2015).
A related environmental variable is that Millennials are the generation “raised in the digital age” and more engaged with social media including YouTube vlogs, Twitter and Instagram than other generations to both seek information on products and engage with marketing stimuli from brands via these mediums (Harmon et al., 1999, 34). Companies market social media specific campaigns at Millennials such as Dove’s #MyBeautyMySay campaign, and 42% of Millennials are able to recall a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube campaign from the last month (Mintel, Marketing to Young Adults, 2016; Dove, 2016).
Yet for Baby Boomers value for money is a more important criterion, using special offers and multi-buys in their purchasing (Mintel, Mature Beauty: Purchase, 2015). For Generation X, environmental variables in their life-stage of buying a house, parenthood and demanding jobs (Blackwell, et al., 2006, 256) lead to criteria of rise convenience and timesaving, seen in their use of products such as micellar skincare cleansers that are quick to use (Mintel, Women’s facial skincare: usage of products, 2016).
There is also a link between the “Information search” stage and “post product evaluation” stage, for examples as Millennials tend to use social media to find out and research products, after consumption they therefore go back to social media to share their consumption experience and contribute to other’s information search via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (Solomon, et al, 2016, 163). In addition, following Sinek’s assertion that Millennials have lower self-esteem and feel entitled to things more than other generations, social media also allows them to receive instant positive feedback through “likes” and comments, providing instant gratification and triggering release of dopamine and to feel better about themselves (Willrath, Braydan, 2016).
Indeed, evidence supports these entitlement feelings, as 62% of the 16 – 24 year olds who post pictures of themselves online with their beauty brands expect something in return such as brand discounts. (Mintel, Social Media: SM activities, 2015). A final difference in post-product evaluation is that Millennials are more likely to use online methods to raise issues with the retailer or brans, whereas Baby Boomers prefer to seek advice and support in store and in person (Mintel, Baby Boomers and technology: Executive Summary, 2015).