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 They have become so used to accepting the 30-years-out-of-date wisdom that every brand has to be “youthful”; they are so used to young and hip advertising winning all the awards; and they are so sure that the rest of the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.


Julie Arnsdorf said...

Very good opinion post! I'd also suggest looking at the typical age of an ad agency copywriter/art director as to why advertising is slated to a certain age bracket. To be a good marketer or creative person, one must be able to cross age barriers. I often encourage clients not to be biased in their thinking when marketing... whether it's age, gender, etc.

Vince Vassolo said...

Bob has a lot of great posts. I read him everyday.

I think you're right. Our society is ageist and that reflects itself in most ad agencies.

I think it's also a money thing. It's cheaper to hire younger than older.

Chuck Nyren said...

Julie & Vince -

No kidding. That's the major theme in my book and blog.

This blog is adding new perspectives to all Baby Boomer advertising/marketing issues. Don't stop.

Anonymous said...

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