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August 16, 2023 by Molly Weybright

5 Generational Trends Small Service Businesses Need to Keep Up With

In the vast and ever-evolving realm of digital marketing, success hinges on knowing your audience's preferences, habits, and behaviors. In today's landscape, this knowledge stems from an understanding of how different generations navigate the digital world. 

From the tech-savvy Gen Z to the experienced Baby Boomers, each generation brings unique habits and preferences to their digital interactions.

For small businesses, capitalizing on these generational trends is not just a luxury but a necessity. The way a 35-year-old engages with online content differs markedly from how someone over 60 does. To successfully navigate these distinctions, small businesses must adapt their digital marketing strategies to accommodate these generational differences.

Age Groups Surveyed Graphic

In this blog, we are going to discuss the 5 biggest generational trends we noticed in our survey of 614 US consumers where we asked them various questions about where and how they engage with small businesses.

1. Young People Are Finding Businesses on TikTok

One of the most glaringly obvious trends we noticed in our survey is that people between the ages of 18 and 29 are patronizing small businesses as a result of TikTok more than any other generation. 

TikTok AdSponsored Content Business Patronization

In other words, the short-form video platform has captivated Generation Z and younger Millennials, altering the way products are discovered and influencing their preferences. 

These are a few of the ways TikTok is beneficial to connect with 18-29-year-olds:

  • TikTok's appeal lies in delivering bite-sized, entertaining content that matches young users' limited attention spans. Its algorithmic nature ensures a personalized content feed, making it a perfect hub for product discovery.

  • A short video showcasing a product's uniqueness or creative use can amass millions of views in no time, rapidly introducing products to a massive audience.

  • Small businesses can tap into TikTok's trend by embracing creativity and authenticity. Craft visually appealing, concise videos highlighting product features or partner with micro-influencers to expand your brand's reach and credibility.

  • Encourage customers to create content featuring your products and then share this user-generated content on other platforms to boost authenticity and community engagement around your brand.

TikTok has reshaped how young generations discover products. Small businesses can connect with Gen Z and young Millennials by creating engaging content, embracing trends, and fostering community. 

2. Social media Posts Remain Supreme for People Under 30

We were unsurprised to find that social media posts remain the primary form of content consumed by people between the ages of 18 and 29. 

With 70% of people under 30 consuming social media content at least once a week versus a 48% consumption rate of video content being the next highest, social media is going to get your small business noticed by the younger generation. 

Social Media Post Consuption

Here are some of the reasons why social media is a powerhouse for brand interactions and product discovery for individuals under 30:

  • Hub of Information: Social media platforms are not just for socializing; they've evolved into information hubs. Younger generations turn to platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for business hours, reviews, and, crucially, product information.

  • Visual Dominance: Visual content reigns supreme. High-quality images and videos catch the eyes of younger audiences, influencing their perceptions of brands and products.

  • Authenticity Matters: Younger consumers crave authenticity. Brands that share behind-the-scenes glimpses, user-generated content, and real-life stories resonate more deeply.

  • Engagement is Essential: Responding promptly to comments, messages, and mentions enhances brand trust and builds a loyal community.

  • Power of Influencers: Social media influencers hold significant sway. Partnering with influencers who align with your brand can help you tap into their engaged followers.

  • Micro-Moments Rule: Younger users seek instant gratification. Snackable content like quick tutorials or engaging stories caters to their on-the-go lifestyles.

For individuals under 30, social media isn't just a pastime; it's a window to the world of brands and products. Small businesses can capitalize on this trend by creating content that engages with their audience. 

3. Recommendations Trump a Limited Online Presence for All Ages

For many small businesses, the idea of maintaining a high-quality website can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to the realm of running a business. Of course, you will need a website, but there are ways to connect with new customers while you learn how to create and run a website.

In fact, we found that people across the board are likely to patronize a small business if it was recommended by a friend even if that business did not have a website.


The authenticity and credibility of word-of-mouth recommendations are unmatched. A positive review from a familiar source carries more weight than any advertisement, blog, or sometimes even website. 

It builds a sense of trust that marketing campaigns often struggle to achieve. In today's digital landscape, where authenticity is paramount, harnessing this human connection becomes an invaluable asset for businesses striving to make a lasting impact.

Put simply, it appears that regardless of a business's online presence, the potency of genuine recommendations can help boost sustainable growth and impact.

4. People OVer 60 Almost Never Subscribe to Newsletters

Despite the fact that nearly 40% of businesses incorporate newsletters as a part of their email marketing strategy, we found that almost half of the people over 60 rarely or never subscribe to those newsletters. 

In other words, if your primary audience is composed of Baby Boomers, you might not want to spend significant time or money on incorporating newsletters into your digital marketing strategy. 

Email Newsletter Subscription in People Over 60

Keep these points in mind if your primary audience is in that over 60 age group:

  • Preference for Personal Contact: Many individuals over 60 still value personal interactions. Phone calls and face-to-face conversations tend to hold greater weight for them than digital exchanges.

  • Offline Touchpoints: Direct mail and community events resonate with this demographic. A well-crafted physical flyer or an invitation to a local charity event your business is hosting can tap into their preference for tangible experiences.

  • Simplicity is Key: For those less accustomed to the digital world, simplicity in communication is essential. Clear, concise messages with minimal technical jargon are more likely to resonate and avoid overwhelming them.

  • Respect for Privacy: Addressing privacy concerns is crucial. Highlight your commitment to data security and ensure transparent communication about how their information is used.

Adapting communication strategies for the over-60 generation requires a blend of traditional and digital approaches. By embracing these tips, you can create meaningful engagement that resonates with this demographic. 

5. To Connect With People Under 60, Mobile Optimization is a Must

The prevalence of smartphones and tablets is the primary reason why mobile optimization stands as a foundational pillar for connecting with individuals under 60. In fact, while less than 50% of people over the age of 60 use mobile devices to research small businesses, around 70% of people between 18-60 report using them.

Types of Devices Used to Research small businesses

This means by designing websites, content, and communication strategies with mobile devices in mind, you can ensure a seamless and intuitive user experience that resonates with the fast-paced lives of these tech-savvy individuals.

Responsive mobile design is paramount, allowing your website to adapt seamlessly across various screen sizes. Swift loading times are equally crucial, as mobile users' patience for slow-loading pages is limited, and optimizing images is essential to prevent users from bouncing due to sluggish performance.

Mastering mobile optimization is not just an option, but a strategic necessity when engaging individuals 60 and under. A mobile-first mindset, responsive design, fast load times, and tailored content all contribute to crafting exceptional mobile experiences.


In the dynamic realm of digital marketing, understanding and adapting to generational trends is a paramount strategy for small businesses.

From the burgeoning influence of TikTok in younger demographics to the enduring power of word-of-mouth recommendations across all age groups, these trends shape how businesses connect with consumers. 

By embracing personalized communication and respecting the preferences of each generation, small businesses can navigate the evolving digital landscape, fostering meaningful connections and sustainable growth.

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