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.

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