The enormous growth of the Baby Boomer generation, coupled with their potential, growing disposable income and penchant for spending, is a compelling argument for making sure this segment has a VIP position in your marketing efforts.
A new report by Nielsen, the “Most Valuable Generation,” in collaboration with BoomAgers, shows that in five years, 50% of the U.S. population will be over 50. These consumers spend close to 50% of all CPG dollars! Yet, less than 5% of advertising is geared towards them.
Before we can talk about the Baby Boomer generation, it’s important we understand just who these folks are. These are the post-war babies like myself, born between 1946 and 1964. We are 30% of the workforce and more than 70% of us are working past the age of retirement. Those born before 1945 are called ‘Traditionalists’…roughly 8% of the population. Those born 1965-1980 are known as Generation X, 17% of the population, followed by Generation Y born between 1981 and 1995, 25% of the population. The balance of our populace known as Millennials, born after 1995, overlap with Generation Y.
Why aren’t the Boomers getting the advertising respect they deserve? Because the oldest of that segment has aged out of the popular advertising 18-49 spectrum. Other than ads for Viagra, Depends, AARP, burial insurance and hair coloring we’re considered past our marketing prime.
But, here is something to think about. In the next five years, Boomers are set to control 70% of the disposable income in the U.S. and inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years.
We’re moving from a life of making money to spending money. We’re not as technologically deficient as some marketeers might imagine. We represent 30% of all online users as well as one-third of all social media users. One third of our age group uses the Internet heavily. We are prolific ‘e’ shoppers spending almost seven billion dollars online. We represent 40% of Apple product sales.
Quite simply, we, the Baby Boomers of America, are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing and to not spend an appropriate percent of your ad budget reaching us is leaving a lot on the table.
In crafting a message and media plan to reach Baby Boomers, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:
Loyalty: We’re big on it, we find comfort, convenience and familiarity in brands we are loyal to, but it’s a two-way street. We expect the people we are loyal to, to be loyal to us in consistently meeting and exceeding our expectations. The biggest mistake any company can make with us is to take our loyalty for granted. It will be hard to get us back once we make a change.
Trust: Don’t lie to us. Don’t mislead us. And even though we both understand that the legal complexities of today’s world require lengthy contracts with lots of fine print, we still expect you to reasonably stand behind your product and service. Don’t defend bad behavior by inept employees or factory stalwarts, go to bat for us. If there is some fine print that could easily be misconstrued or misleading, we expect you to point that out. We trust you won’t sell us a car at 6 p.m. today for $1,000 more than the new incentive program provides for tomorrow at 8 a.m.
Keep it simple. Yes, we have the money to spend on things we want, when we want them, with who we want to spend it with, but the normal process of aging might require you to clearly state the offer without a lot of gibberish and confusion. You might want to put 100 words in your radio spot instead of 120. You might have more bold disclaimers on the TV ad, held in place long enough for us to read. Make the font large enough for us to read your business card and your print ads. Our eyes and ears and comprehension (and your bottom line) will all appreciate the effort.
There is nothing ‘typical’ about us! Yes, we might be a little more conservative, and at times we slow down a little, but we also kayak, bike and hike, go to rock concerts and scream at baseball games. We all don’t eat at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. Some of us get up at 4 a.m., and some of us stay up ‘til 4 a.m. Some of us only watch cable news shows. Some of us only watch sports. Some of us don’t watch any TV.
You’re not getting the best of us unless you’re doing research on media habits. Whatever you do, make sure your marketing team, internally and externally, is tuned into the wants, needs, desires and motivators of the Baby Boomer 50-plus market as you make your advertising plans.
Here are few websites with Baby Boomer marketing ideas:
Chuck Nyren’s website: http://www.advertisingtobabyboomers.com
Brent Green’s website http://www.marketingtoboomers.com
Also, Tom Brokaw had an excellent special on Baby Boomers that first aired in March of 2010. It’s still online where you can see the entire show and even take a Boomer quiz. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34840866
Finally, if you’d like a complimentary PDF of the Nielsen report “Most Valuable Generation,” send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll forward it to you.