Thanks to advancing health technology, the average North American is living longer than would have been expected 100 years ago, leading to a broader range of generations of consumers in the marketplace. While in the past there were only two or three, there are now four generations that may be targeted by marketers. By examining Toyota’s full-page print advertisements in Forbes Magazine from the past 30 years, this research examines the various strategies Toyota used to appeal to each of the four generations: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Ads are analyzed using key phrases, headlines, imagery, text, and slogans that Toyota uses to inform, persuade, and remind buyers from each of the generations. Analysing these ad elements, comparing them with generational characteristics identified in extant research and writings, and exploring their differences reveals some interesting findings. The literature suggests that while the Silent Generation often feels threatened by the unknown, Baby Boomers encourage radical change (Davis, 2005) and are very individualistic, with a high need to express themselves (Egri & Ralston, 2004). Generation X buys products that allow them personal freedom to find happiness (Egri & Ralston, 2004). Finally, evidence of appealing to Generation Y through environmental values was discovered in the more recent literature (Constantinides, 2010). As anticipated, it was found that generational traits and Toyota’s marketing trends directly coincide with each other. Using these findings we gain insight into how marketers can communicate with these generations today. Also of interest is the evidence that suggests Toyota’s failure to acknowledge Generation X’s differing needs than those of the Baby Boomers was responsible for the loss of the loyalty of Generation X. 1 Chapter One: Introduction Even with a quick glance at the North American consumer market, it becomes apparent that we are in an unprecedentedly diverse market in terms of age, race, religion, sex, and a myriad of other demographic categories. Of particular importance for this research are the aging population and the presence of four distinct generational consumer cohorts: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Generation Y. Humans are living longer than ever before and this creates a large age span of consumers for some markets. For example, within the automotive industry, consumers fall within one of these four generations and their differences have significant impacts on purchase decisions. While some of the older generations base their decisions on what would be viewed as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Egri & Ralston, 2004), younger generations tend to make purchase decisions that benefit themselves (Davis, 2005). This self-benefit can be through self-expression, filling some psychological need, or aligning oneself with a certain social group or value such as the environmental movement. Purchase decision-making has been identified as significantly different for each of the generations. A brief description of each generational cohort follows. The Generations The oldest generation, the Silent Generation, lived through very hard times: World War II and the Great Depression. Growing up during tumultuous economic and national conditions instilled a group-based, ‘right’ versus ‘wrong,’ mentality: decisions were acceptable or they were not (Egri & Ralston, 2004). Difficult times also led them to value preparedness and self-reliance for their own security (Egri & Ralston, 2004). Their children, the Baby Boomers, introduced radical change. This could be seen in their 2 mentalities, in decision making, in their views, and their impact on the world (Lipschultz, Hilt, & Reilly, 2007). This generation has a more individualistic view of the world than the Silent Generation and aims to express their personalities and individualism whenever and wherever they can (Davis, 2005). Generation X (Gen X) is, in some ways, more like the Silent Generation than the Baby Boomers. Like the Silent Generation, they value a visible progression in their careers, are financially self-reliant and avoid ‘burning bridges’ (Boyd, 2009). Because of their parents’ high divorce rate, they value the same traditional family structures that the Silent Generation valued (Egri & Ralston, 2004). Gen X rebelled against their parents’ product choices because they simply did not want to be like them. Finally, Generation Y (Gen Y) has grown up in a time of technological innovation and environmental concern as the need for alternative energy is exploding. They have repeatedly witnessed scandals in government, big business, and pop culture, and are therefore unwilling to bend their values and ethics for the sake of profit (Boyd, 2009). Like the Baby Boomers, a clear career path isn’t as important as doing what they love (Boyd, 2009). With so many different generations in the marketplace, and such a varying array of values that shape their purchase decisions, it is clear that marketers need to understand the differences when they are communicating with these different cohorts. This research brings to light Toyota's underlying strategies for approaching each market and serves as an effective case study for marketers. In order to establish the characteristics Toyota used to appeal to each generation, full page ads published in Forbes Magazine were examined. Forbes Magazine has a 3 relatively well-defined target market of affluent consumers ranging in age from 25 to 50 years old. Several elements of each ad were analyzed, including the copy, headlines, imagery, and colour. The style and message of these elements are compared to values that are attributed to specific characteristics of each generational cohort in order to determine how Toyota advertised to each. The remainder of this chapter provides a brief overview of each of the chapters in the thesis.