I was recently chatting with the owner of a bagel shop in my neighborhood, and she told me her daughter had introduced her to ThirdLove's bras. She then told me that her mom had just started buying bras from us, as well. That's three generations who are using the product, which is very cool to hear from a customer. 

But it does bring up an excellent question: How do you manage to market one product to such a diverse number of age groups? 

Truthfully, we didn't start our company with age in mind. We wanted to have a bra for all women, and while that certainly included all ages, we were more concerned with being size-inclusive at the time. 

But, over the years, as we've become more age-inclusive, we've found that marketing a product to several generations doesn't require multiple strategies. You just have to listen to what your customers are asking for and focus on inclusivity and diversity as you continue to grow.

Here's how to make sure your product can end up in the hands of various generations:

1. Really listen to what customers want.

When people don't see themselves reflected in a brand they use, they can be very vocal about it. 

Our moment of clarity came when a woman named Hope emailed us to ask why we didn't have any older models in our print catalog. Once we pulled the data, we realized a large portion of our customers were actually over the age of 40. We had the data, but it took Hope to show us how important it was to highlight customers of all ages. She represented the women-over-40 group in a really qualitative way.

From that moment on, we decided to begin including a diverse age-range of models in our marketing. And it would never have happened if we hadn't been open to our customers' responses. 

If you keep your ear to the ground and listen when your customers contact you, you won't have to worry about how your brand should evolve--they'll tell you.

2. Focus on inclusive messaging and imagery.

You don't have to pursue an older demographic relentlessly by using specific messaging just for them. It's more about creating a brand that focuses on inclusivity and diversity as a whole. 

For instance, if you look at our Instagram or Facebook feeds, you won't see a 60-year-old model in every other post. But from time to time, there will be a post with an older model mixed in--just like we mix in models of various sizes.

As a brand, you don't have to target older or younger demographics with specific messages or images, because inclusivity doesn't only resonate with one demographic. Posts of our older models on social media have high engagement--and that doesn't exclusively come from older generations. Younger women often comment or message our customer service team to say how much they love seeing those posts. 

It's not about trying to be everything to everyone. It's about creating an identity that people see as genuine and inclusive.

3. Know that you can become more diverse over time.

To be quite honest, the pool of models in their 60s is very small compared with the number of models you can find in their 20s or 30s. 

Even finding someone to do the shoots can be challenging. And as a young company, it's easy to say, "We don't have the time or resources to focus on this right now."

But you can become more diverse as you grow. You simply have to make a true effort to invest in more inclusive marketing efforts, such as expanding the age and size range of your models. If you do more than just provide lip service to the idea of inclusivity, customers will notice it. Competitors will notice it. And your brand will develop an authenticity that's impossible to fake. 

At that point, you aren't a company that caters to Millennials or Baby Boomers. You're a brand with a universal message that people of all ages can get behind.

Published on: Jul 2, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.