Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wooing Boomers: Step 3

Create a dialogue with them. Every life, be it a person’s or a product’s, is made up of a series of tales. Do a creative exploration, and discover ways to craft stories about how your product intersects with the lives of Boomers. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel something about your product, and you’ll have created a priceless connection with Boomers that money can’t buy.

Simple, sincere storytelling is an ancient technique that has resonated with human beings since before Beowulf. Stories have more meaning and staying power than glib slogans and goofy commercials, because they touch a deeper place. In this case, it’s called the Boomer Buying Center.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wooing Boomers: Step 2

Shower them with personalized communications. This doesn’t mean merely putting each person’s actual name on a mailing label. It means speaking directly to what each individual Boomer actually needs and wants. So, do your homework, then use your empathic skills and speak to them person to person.

If you’re not quite sure how to do this, find an advertising expert who’s also a gerontology counselor. Then you’ll have the best of both worlds, and a much clearer path to the Boomer Buying Center.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wooing Boomers: Step 1

Customize your product’s image for greater Boomer appeal. If you assume that Boomers will buy whatever you’re selling, prepare to go broke. The fact is that you have to do whatever it takes to make your product as appealing as possible to them. That doesn’t mean rebuilding your product from the ground up, but you do have to reposition it in a way that focuses on the Boomers’ needs, wants and fantasies.

For example, let’s say you’re selling tons of iPods to kids, and you want to grow your bottom line by 10%. A dedicated communication campaign directed to the heart of the Boomers’ special interests (stressing podcasts over pure entertainment, for instance) might well garner incremental profits without much heavy lifting. The point is simple: You’ve got to make sure that your product’s image fits their lifestyle, then you’ve got a good shot at making a sale.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ways to Woo Your Ideal Boomer

Being a true individualist, the Ideal Boomer seeks to have every need, want, desire and whim catered to in a way that provides genuine value and personalized service. Of course, any consumer would love to be treated so royally. The thing about the Boomers, though, is that they insist on being courted like kings and queens. The reason for this is simple: They have a deep-rooted belief that they’re special—that they are The Entitled Generation.

This attitude is unique in history, at least for so large a group. The generation before the Boomers was tempered by the Great Depression and WWII, so they’ve been content to make due with whatever comes their way. The generation following the Boomers is learning to do the same, because they believe that once the Boomers wring all the dollars out of Social Security, Medicare and other middle class entitlement programs, there will be little left for them. Perhaps they’re right.

The Boomers may have become disillusioned during the ’60s, but they’ve never lost that feeling of entitlement. That’s why they’re among the world’s most demanding consumers. Their motto could be: “We’ll have it our way or no way at all, because we’re entitled.” In short, if you don’t live up to their high expectations, they’ll find somebody else who will.

The next four blogs will cover some ways you can begin to transform hard-to-please Boomers into loyal customers. It’s very challenging, but it can be very rewarding, too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Who's Your Ideal Boomer?

The best way to create effective advertising and marcom for the Baby Boomer market is to imagine that you’re speaking person-to-person with each individual. To do that, it helps to have a sense of whom the Ideal Boomer for your product or service might be. After all, the best way to appeal to the needs and desires that drive Boomer buying behavior is to see things through their eyes.

The first step in characterizing your Ideal Boomer is to focus on key facts drawn from reliable research. Of course, facts and figures aren’t flesh and bone, so you’ll need to make a leap of faith if you’re going to understand and reach that Market Of One known as the Baby Boomer. In short, you need an instinctive knowledge of human nature and lots of energetic creativity to get Boomers as excited about whatever you’re selling as you are.

If you’re not comfortable taking leaps of faith and trusting creativity, keep in mind that the world’s most innovative business leaders do exactly that, especially when the stakes are sky high. You’ll find a good example in a recent BusinessWeek article about PepsiCo America’s CEO, Massimo d’Amore. (Blowing Up Pepsi, April 27, 2009; ).

Before Pepsi began redesigning the packaging for its flagship brand, one of the company’s top branding guys, Frank Cooper III stated, “We’re done being all things to all people. We are going to reach out to one very special demographic, the real you. The demographic of people who march to the beat of their own drum…” Hm-m-m, sounds like he could be talking about the Boomers.

The article doesn’t explain how Pepsi is going to figure out exactly who “the real you” is. They’ll probably use some research to validate their creative hunches after they’ve executed the new packaging. That’s often the way it happens, although few care to bluntly admit it. But the fact is that every marketer who aspires to do breakthrough communications has to depend on creativity to cut through the swamp of tiresome executions that pollute the media.

And that creativity has to be meaningful, too. That’s why key facts from research make a good starting pointing, but if those facts aren’t brought to life with an inspired creative touch, they’ll be like millstones around the necks of the “creative” executions. And executions that don’t sink in, quickly sink to the bottom of the turbulent sea of media that permeates our world.

So, do your best to tightly define and characterize your Ideal Boomer, but keep in mind that your rough caricature is only a launching pad for the creative process. Your success will depend on how effectively and creatively you can convince Boomers that your products and services will help them validate and celebrate their individuality. Do that, and your advertising and marcom will resonate like the real thing, reaching what Pepsi might call “the real you” inside each Boomer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Trouble with Research

Characterizing target markets is older than advertising. Way older. The first successful cave-to-cave salesman had an instinct for sizing up potential customers like Ms.Og before she ever rolled back her front boulder for him. He did this by drawing on what he knew about human nature, and creatively applying it on an individual basis, person to person. Might seem primitive, but it’s still the most effective way to reach human beings.

Trouble is, business loves numbers, because quantification seems to make slippery subjects easier to grasp, and there’s some truth to that. However, the numbers game is too often used as a shield rather than a creative tool. Insecure marketers turn to numbers to justify decisions in the event things don’t go exactly as planned. After all, it’s a lot easier to hide behind a phalanx of figures than take the brunt of the blame for a blown call.

Of course, market research has come a long way since the dawn of selling. Today, it’s a quasi-science that can drown a well-meaning marketer in minutia. Ask any research guru to describe a key market segment, and you’ll get an encyclopedic recounting of facts and figures, with the kitchen sink thrown in. It may be comprehensive, but it’s not lifelike. And lifeless stats make for lifeless messaging in advertising and marcom, two disciplines that thrive on instinctive creativity.

Collecting data has always been the easiest part of market research. It’s knowing what to do with the raw numbers and tenuous conclusions that really counts. From the looks of most of the ads and marcom currently being spoon-fed to Baby Boomers, few marketers know how to separate useless factoids from the meaningful ones. Obvious research conclusions lead to obvious messaging, which leads to boredom, and you can’t bore Boomers into buying.

(As an aside, I recall an expensive, and very time-consuming study that once revealed that people wanted a lawnmower that lets them cut their grass quickly and easily. That was the bottom line conclusion! The creative group I headed up at the time didn’t find that very informative or inspiring, but at least we had a lot less time to get the commercials done and on the air.)

So, next time you’re faced with a solid block of research, make like Michelangelo and chisel away everything that doesn’t look like David. That takes real creativity, but if you can do it, you can be sure that you won’t weigh down your creative executions with stuff that doesn’t engage and resonate with your target market.

I’ve been in this business for decades, so I know that research can be valuable in fashioning a rough caricature of the Boomers, but if you want to reach their Buying Center consistently, you’ll have to ferret out the things that really matter. Then you’ll have to speak to the Boomers’ individuality with insight and imagination, framing your messaging in ways that reaches them where they really live.

If you can do that clearly, concisely, creatively and cogently, you’ll succeed. If you can’t, all the facts and figures in the world won’t help a bit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boomer Marketing Around the Blogosphere: part 2

In a second installment of Baby Boomer Marketing around the web, here's Chuck Nyren's Blog. It's called Advertising to Baby Boomers and he's been at this for about 4 years.

If you follow his blog, the logic is self evident and right on the mark. Chuck explores numerous examples of how marketing to Boomers makes sense. More importantly he demonstrates how if you don't market to Boomers, you're not as bright as you think you are.

I like this one from earlier this year about how Chico's catalog skewed too young with their models, turned off customers and got the CEO fired. Read it here.

Or try this one from last year. Chuck writes about the Madison Avenue trend of portraying Boomers in black and white images, as if "we're merely characters in a handful of Woody Allen movies." Read it here.

Thanks to Chuck's blog I can finally prove I'm not crazy about this Baby Boomer Marketing thing.

Also check out Chuck's book, Advertising to Baby Boomers. It'll change the way you think about us, once and for all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boomer Marketing Around the Blogosphere

Don't just take my word for it. Marketing to Baby Boomers is potentially big business... not to mention SMART business.

Bob Hoffman, the self-described cranky CEO of Hoffman/Lewis in San Francisco, writes in his book The Ad Contrarian, about advertisers aiming their message too young:

Of all the dumb things that advertisers do, perhaps dumbest of all is aiming their message too young.

There seems to be an irresistible urge for marketers to target young people despite monumental evidence that older people have far more money, are more willing to change brand loyalties, are far easier to reach, and all-in-all make better customers.

Of course, there are some products that rely on the youth market for their survival. But for most companies, targeting young people is simply senseless. When’s the last time you saw a car ad with an old person in it? And yet, of the 13 cars the average American will buy in a lifetime, 8 of them will be bought after the age of 50.

The rationale for always showing young people in ads is the stale canard that older people want to be like younger people. In fact, not only do older people not want to be like younger ones but in a recent study half said they tune out when they see a spot pitched to young people and one-third say they actively avoid products whose ads are directed at younger people.

The worst and perhaps most pervasive rationale for targeting young people is the notion that if you get them young you’ll have them for life. This is the idiotic “lifetime value” argument that spawned the dearly departed “new economy.” Someone please show me one 50-year-old who drives the same car, drinks the same beverages, wears the same clothes, or eats the same food he did at 16. I mean, besides my brother-in-law.

Some facts about people over 50:
• They make up 29% of the population.
• They control 77% of financial assets.
• They control 50% of all discretionary spending.
• They watch 50% more television.
• They are the target for 10% of all advertising.

There are only two possible explanations for the above. Either advertisers are crazy or they are hopelessly out of touch with, and prejudiced against, the people who economically control this country.

Since I don’t think they’re crazy, the explanation has to be the latter. They have become so used to accepting the 30-years-out-of-date wisdom that every brand has to be “youthful”; they are so used to young and hip advertising winning all the awards; and they are so sure that the rest of the world is just like them that they are blind to what is perfectly evident to anyone who looks at this objectively.

Not only is most advertising not appealing to the people who have and spend most of the money but it’s alienating them with imagery, values, and cultural references that are actively disliked and resented.

Continued tomorrow with Chuck Nyren and his Advertising to Boomers blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Positive Aging Around the Blogosphere

Richard Ambrosius is an evangelist and pioneer for Positive Aging Marketing for over 30 years.

In 1981, he helped launch a movement by founding a company specializing in marketing to those in life’s second half using an approach he called Positive Aging. He was among the first consultants in the nation to specialize in the maturing market and aggressively counter aging stereotypes through his research, products, articles, lectures and workshops.

Read his poignant words about Positive Aging and the effect it can have on your marketing initiatives below:

The Pathway to Happiness - Turns Out to be Aging by Richard Ambrosius-

With all the focus in recent commercials on nostalgia to attract Boomers, one would think the road to happiness lies in the past and not the future. Or, I suppose you could conclude that older adults have been waiting for Baby Boomers to get older to show the rest of those in life's third stage how to "reinvent" retirement. as some pop culture consultants claim. Once again, it seems the consultants and Madison Avenue types trapped in yesterday's youth paradigms are wrong...again... or should I say still when it comes to understanding older consumers.

According to a 2006 University of Michigan Study, the belief that younger people are happier, a belief which is shared by the old and young, is just another myth or aging factoid. It would seem that older people "misremember" how happy they were as youths and young people "mis-predict" how happy or unhappy they will be as they age. While the young know older people are unhappy, they don't see themselves as unhappy in later life.... (finish the article)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Individualism: The Boomers' Core Value

Although much has been written about the relevance of Boomer values to marketing, it’s still virtually impossible to predict the buying behavior of so large and diverse a group. Most researchers agree that Boomers value flexibility, enthusiasm, relevance, questioning, active participation, informality, optimism and personal autonomy. They may well value all those things and more, but individualism is their most stable, long-term value, serving as the guiding light for the decisions they make.

Of course, many other values can play a role in influencing Boomer buying behavior, but those values revolve in constellations around the core of individualism, radiating out from the most to least important. That means when it comes to how and what they buy, Boomers will have things their way, regardless of what the rest of the world may think.

The roots of this individualism were established during the ’60s, when the Boomers rejected traditional standards that limited the way previous generations thought and acted, and they haven’t looked back. As a result, Boomers tend to place their goals and desires over those of the community or nation. And they won’t tolerate being manipulated or meddled with when making decisions. Trying to dictate to them is worse than futile, because it can lead to a perceived lack of respect, which can result in the worst kind of word-of-mouth advertising imaginable. Diss the Boomers, and they’ll let the world know.

So, as you navigate the rugged terrain of reason and emotion that leads to the Boomers’ Buying Center, keep in mind that road is paved with individualism. Also remember two other things. First, reason may help Boomers rationalize the “Why” of buying in their minds, but emotion validates the decision at gut level. Second, while individualism and other values may lead the way to the Buying Center, it takes the finesse of a counselor with advertising and marcom experience and expertise to open the door.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's a "Market Segment of One?"

The expression “A Market Segment of One” might sound like marketing mumbo jumbo, but it’s an easy, reliable way to remember that although Baby Boomers share many common values, the most important is individualism. Given their experiences during the ’60s, “typical” Boomer values revolve around a strong ego that stresses independence and self-reliance. Honor their robust sense of self by speaking meaningfully with each individual Boomer, and you’ll have a good chance of moving that person from apathy to action.

A major mistake that many traditional marketers make is clustering Boomers together in convenient market segments that only superficially recognize their individuality. Herding Boomers like that might provide a loose sense of what they’re like as a group, but it won’t necessarily facilitate connecting with their Buying Centers. A better approach is to understand, embrace and celebrate each Boomer’s uniqueness.

Get inside the individual’s head. Share that person’s thoughts and feelings in an intimate way. Use authentic words and images that resonate with and engage that person on intellectual and emotional levels. Do all that, and you’ll begin to understand what it means to address Boomers as “A Market Segment Of One.”

Of course, trying to precisely define “A Market Segment Of One” is as tough as trying to pin down what each individual Boomer is actually like. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s not impossible. And learning how to do it is the key to unlocking the hidden profit potential in your products and services.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Advertising and Marcom Thought Starters From Gerontology Counseling

Here are four key things you should think about if you’re planning on marketing to Baby Boomers. Let them really soak in, and you’ll find they’ll help jump-start brainstorming sessions that spark innovative advertising and marcom strategies and tactics.

Research indicates that this prejudice is even more pervasive than racism. Succumb to it, and you’re doomed. Not only is it illegal and immoral, it’s just plain stupid. If there’s one thing Boomers won’t stand for, it’s being labeled in moribund ways that suggest they’re anything other than vibrant individuals. To succeed with Boomers, you must replace this repellent prejudice with new, uplifting concepts based firmly on various aspects of Positive Aging.

Motivational Interviewing:
This counseling paradigm is ideal for conceptualizing advertising and marketing communication campaigns. It’s all about moving people from being unaware through ambivalence toward positive action. Choose and use the most appropriate principles from this paradigm for each of your products and services, and you’ll help Boomers motivate themselves to buy your brands.

This is a fundamental technique of motivational interviewing, as well as other counseling paradigms, and it can help change the way that Boomers see your products and services. It’s not easy, but if you can develop strategies and tactics that redefine concepts (especially those commonly considered negative) in new ways that resonate with and excite Boomers, you can begin to motivate them to seriously consider what you’re selling.

Taking A Holistic Approach:
Boomers are very well educated, thoughtful and sensitive people who see themselves in multiple dimensions, and that’s exactly how you should look at them, too. Assess your products and services in terms of how they might appeal to Boomers in an integrated way, taking into account their physical, mental, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions. And you also need to keep in mind that all the while you’re communicating with “A Market Segment of One.”

Of course, simply reading the above isn’t enough. You need to write down what you think and how you feel about these subjects. In addition, you should do the same with these ideas: What’s Attractive?, What’s Quality?, What’s Wellness?, What’s Positive Aging? Let your observations sit overnight, then look at them with an analytical eye, and ask: Can my own thinking use a little reframing. Would that lead to more realistic attitudes that would help my products and services connect more meaningfully with Boomers?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Boomers Turn Branding Upside Down

Boomers are bright, opinionated and socially connected, so they’ll decide what your brand means rather than having you or some trendsetter define it for them. As a marketer, your challenge is to craft ways that will encourage Boomers to spread the good word about your products and services to friends and neighbors. That means you’ve got to be a good reporter, as well as an engaging storyteller, and it doesn’t hurt to have a good sense of humor, as well. With the Boomers, the trite idea that the customer is always right becomes a literal truth, because, as always, they’ll have it their way, thanks.

Ultimately, you’ve got to really understand the Boomers on many levels to reach them. You need to be as sensitive as a counselor and as dynamic as an advertising creative director. A rare combination, but not unheard. If you find that kind of resource, you can begin to help Boomers see your brand in a more meaningful light.

Monday, April 13, 2009

When it Comes to Marketing to Baby Boomers, it Pays to Think Like a Shrink.

Or at least think like a bona fide gerontology counselor. That means going beyond the conventional wisdom of conventional research about Boomers, and listening to their needs, deeply and actively. You’ll begin to genuinely appreciate how they think and feel. Then you’ll be able to communicate with them in respectful, insightful ways that motive them to act.

It also helps if you’ve lived through the developmental stages that Boomers have. The sad fact is that the overwhelming majority of younger people simply don’t have the life experience that allows them to go beyond an intellectual understanding of what the Boomers are all about. And it shows in the advertising strategies and tactics that they use.

Strange as it may seem, this is the one area of advertising and marketing where gray hair isn’t just necessary, it’s indispensable. When it comes to establishing rapport with an audience, there’s no substitute for careful listening and insightful messaging based on shared life experiences. As many sincere marketers and advertisers have found, superficial communications simply won’t fly with sophisticated consumers like the Boomers.

The most powerful advertising and marketing communication campaigns resonate with independence, identity, authenticity and community, four things Boomers hold sacred. And, of course, you always have to keep in mind the most important values of all: Individualism, because each Boomer is a “Market Segment of One.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Think Like a Counselor, Sell Like an Ad Exec.

When marketing to Baby Boomers you need to know how to reach each person as a unique individual. In a very real sense, you have to have the depth and breadth of understanding and empathy that a counselor has.

Of course, there are many gerontology counselors who know how to communicate quite effectively with Boomers, but they don’t know a thing about advertising or marketing communications. Use one of them as a consultant, and you’re likely to get lots of statistics and some psychobabble, but very little practical advice you can use in selling to Boomers.

Likewise, there are lots of great ad execs, including very talented writers and art directors, who can sell anything you can name, but they don’t know a thing about how to communicate effectively with Boomers. To make matters worse, the vast majority of them have no desire to even try. Instead they go for what they believe to be the easy money, focusing on over-leveraged impulse buyers like trendy teens and post-adolescent consumers.

In order to penetrate the Boomer market, you need the help of professionals who are as adept at gerontology counseling as they are at advertising and marcom. Of course, in the business world, that combination of experience and expertise is rare, indeed, but it’s out there.

For instance, in the fall of 1994, an advertising Creative Director who shall go unnamed, wrote about what he then called GeroMarketing. Pretty uninspired name for an ad guy, but better than Industrial Gerontology, which was suggested by one of his professors. As he developed the concept, he renamed it Creative GeroMarketing because it married key principles of creative advertising and marcom with those of gerontology counseling. Fifteen years later, the concepts he refined as a result of this synthesis have helped him and his agency devise unique ways of reaching, speaking to and motivating Boomers in authentic, effective ways.

Taking his pioneering effort to the next level has proven to be very exciting. Frustrating, too. But it’s worth the effort, because as he’s learned, thinking like a counselor and selling like an ad exec can be very rewarding in more ways than one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Positive Aging Can Increase Sales for Virtually Any Business.

But before you can change your profit outlook you have to change your mindset. In order to embrace the concept of Positive Aging, you have to transform the way you think about and relate to Boomers. It begins with breaking stereotypes, but that’s just the beginning.

Your strategy and tactics have to be grounded in a genuine respect for each Boomer’s individualism. Your advertising and marcom have to be brimming with concepts that conjure enthusiastic images of Positive Aging. Your writing and visual executions have to energize Boomers with messages that reflect vitality and independence. Understand and adapt to the Boomer mindset, and you can develop new markets, expanding the profit-making potential of your products and services.

And, if you think your products and services can’t be profitably repositioned against the Boomer market, you haven’t creatively searched for the opportunities that are right under your nose. The Boomer Strategy Audit™ is an innovative way to reconsider brands in a new light in order to discover incremental profit-making opportunities. It’s also an engaging, exciting and valuable tool for brainstorming innovative approaches to the Boomer market.

When you do a Boomer Strategy Audit, you’ll discover that it’s like the difference between panning for the occasional gold nugget and striking the mother-lode of increased sales.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why It's Simply Good Business to Embrace Positive Aging when Marketing to Baby Boomers.

Historically, aging has been seen as a time of increasing disability and frailty inexorably leading to death, but the Boomers refuse to accept that point of view. That’s why the new paradigm of Positive Aging positively resonates with them. That’s also why advertising and marketing communications that mirror Positive Aging’s many facets can profoundly influence Boomer buying decisions.

So, if you haven’t already done it, the smart move now is to take a close look at your products and services, and ask yourself how you can reposition them toward the burgeoning Boomer market. Of course, this isn’t to suggest that you walk away from your current markets. No, it’s about adding profitable sales in ways you might never have dreamt possible.

What makes this new opportunity so lucrative is that there’s a new methodology that can help add incremental profits that will grow your bottom line. It’s the Boomer Strategy Audit™, and it can help virtually any business grow in almost any economic climate, because it can help you apply the principles of Positive Aging to your advertising and marcom.

Baby Boomer Marketing: The Most Promising Opportunity in American History

The Baby Boomers are causing a seismic shift in purchasing patterns, transforming markets and creating new ones from coast to coast. They’re 75 million strong, and they spend over $2 trillion dollars yearly on everything from pharmaceuticals to fashion.

Right now, the Boomers are sitting on more expendable income than any other group of consumers, and they’re hitting their peak spending years.

Somehow, though, the vast majority of marketers keep overlooking them in favor of trendy teens and post-adolescent consumers. But this is just foolish, and it is rooted in ageism.

If you consider yourself a savvy marketer, you can’t afford to think this way and pass up the countless profit-making opportunities brought about by the blossoming of the Boomers.

If you want to market to this group of individualists, you need to go well beyond merely devising strategies and tactics. You need to execute advertising and integrated marcom programs that reflect their values and culture to ensure that your communications resonate with them.

And you can only do this by dispelling antiquated notions of what aging means, replacing them with values, attitudes, strategies, copy and visuals based on the power of Positive Aging.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

If You Don't Speak Directly to Baby Boomer Values... You Won't be Heard.

As we've discussed earlier, Baby Boomer Marketing can be hard to navigate without the right guide. Although the most important Boomer value is individualism, it helps to consider a handful of other values that underlie common themes in the world of gerontology counseling.

Personal Significance…every Boomer feels that he or she is capable of making a real mark in this world, and you’ve got to convince them that you believe the very same thing.

Quality…they’re intelligent, well-informed and picky about what they buy. They know quality when they see, and they’re more than willing to pay a premium for it. That’s why you’ve got to convince them that you can deliver the best possible products and services at a fair price.

Inner strength…they know who they are and what they’re about, and this self-knowledge helps them make their own choices with confidence. Your communications have to convince them that you celebrate their empowerment by treating them with respect rather than lip service.

Respect…Boomers simply won’t tolerate feeling marginalized. Not only have they accomplished a great deal in their lives, they also have big plans. You’ve got to convince them that you understand that they want more out of life than simply a comfortable rocking chair on life’s back porch.

Empathy…they may be self-centered, but Boomers also care about others, often very deeply. To connect on a meaningful level, you must convince them that you share their care.

Substance with style…you can’t fool Boomers with flashy fads like you can most younger consumers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate style. They do. But it has to have real substance behind it.

Optimal health and wellness…Boomers don’t expect to die young or unwell, for that matter. They expect to live a vigorous life, brimming with energy and enthusiasm. And they’ll love you for sharing that expectation and showing them the way.

Authenticity …living through the Sixties and beyond has caused Boomers to crave genuine experiences that make them feel fully alive and connected to others, as well as their deepest roots. Their search for authenticity is inextricably interwoven with their search for meaning and happiness. Learn to tap into these primal values, and you’ll be communicating with their souls.

To turn Boomers into buyers, you need to embrace and reflect these values in your advertising and marketing communications. And never forget that you need to cloak these values in individualism, because ultimately, you’re communicating with a Market Segment Of One.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What's a Baby Boomer Value?

That’s a challenging question, because Boomer values are as diverse as the people themselves. It’s tempting to succumb to the easy answers provided by current research, but trying to neatly categorize these iconoclasts can lead to dead ends that waste time and marketing dollars.

If the Boomers have anything in common, it’s a deep mistrust of authoritarianism. This mistrust is justified given the political and social turmoil of the 1960s, when America’s biggest cities burned, beloved leaders were gunned down, and the war in Vietnam raged on. As a result, the tranquility of the 1950s quickly gave way to a divided country that was part battleground, part cauldron of change.

The Boomers questioned the most sacred societal values, and the sentiment behind the slogan “Never trust anyone over 30” almost became “Never trust anyone.” Shaken loose from mainstream moorings, each Boomer was left to create a unique path in life. This led to a kind of individualism that’s often been mistaken for total selfishness when it’s more like a very active autonomy.

Deep-seated individualism makes Boomers hard to pin down in terms of values, and typical research is of little help. A quick google reveals that this research offers the following as Boomer values: Good health, fitness, functionality, well-being, close relationships with family and friends, altruism, kindness, compassion, self-respect, spirituality, intellectual curiosity, fun, happiness, financial security, power, recognition, excitement, balance, civility, conservatism and liberalism. Well, that really narrows it down. Imagine trying to talk one-to-one to a Boomer Consumer using that kind of research as a guiding light for your advertising and marcom.

Fact is, the best way to reach the Boomers is to consider them a “Market Segment of One.” Then you can go about the business of addressing each one of them as individuals who have unique paths that lead to their Buying Centers. It’s a little more work, but it can be quite lucrative.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to Reach the Baby Boomers' "Buying Center"

When thinking about marketing to Baby Boomers, remember values inspire and inform Positive Aging. As people mature, their values tend to move from materialistic to meaningful. That’s why the Boomers’ reasons for buying are more than skin deep, and motivating them to purchase takes more than trendy techniques. It takes genuine communication based on a sensitive understanding of what drives Boomers to act.

Marketers who don’t understand and respect Boomer values risk making them feel marginalized, and that’s a recipe for disaster. Commoditized research can help identify and clarify Boomer values, but knowing how to address them in genuinely sensitive and meaningful ways takes a unique skill set which encompasses advertising and marketing communications, as well as gerontology counseling.

Why gerontology counseling? Well, to engage and motivate Boomers, you have to precisely identify and communicate with the issues that go to the heart of the matter—their “buying center,” if you will. That’s where Boomers ultimately make their purchasing decisions. However, the journey to that special place, where reason and emotion converge, is complex and confusing, unless you have the guidance of a counselor who knows how to understand and empathize with Boomers. Once you reach their Buying Center, you have to communicate in a way that motivates Boomers to take action. That’s where advertising and marcom expertise come into play.

Finding all of that experience and expertise in one place may seem futile. Or it might be right under your nose.

Two Myths About Marketing to Baby Boomers

If you market to Baby Boomers or plan on it, here is something interesting you should know:

On January 7th 2009, TNS Compete and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced a new joint study, "Greying Gadgets: How Older Americans Shop for and Use Consumer Electronics."

The study reveals that the age segments of 50-somethings, 60-somethings and 70+ use many technologies at or near comparable rates as younger age segments. Consumers in their 50s are as likely to own, or plan on buying, an HDTV as those under 50. Eighty percent of 60-somethings used a cell phone in the past week, nearly equal the usage rates of 18-34 year olds. Additionally, 71 percent of 60-somethings and 52 percent of 70-somethings used a search engine in the past week, compared to 77 percent of 18-34 year olds.

The study also revealed that older Americans rely more heavily on in-person information sources for purchasing electronics products. Sixty-three percent spoke with a sales associate in-person when researching their consumer electronics purchase, compared to 47 percent of those aged 18-49. (to read the full report)

This study points out two very important facts about Boomers. First, that they embrace technology as much as any other generation. And second, that they demand one-on-one interaction when making a purchase.

In other words, they like gadgets and they want to be treated as an individual consumer not as a mass market- two more myths about Baby Boomers shattered.