Boomers Present Marketing Challenges, Opportunities

March 2, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Creative & Formats

Marketers seeking to promote products and services to the “Baby Boom” generation would do well to remember that Boomers are still vital and evolving even as they approach retirement age, according to Dr. Bob Deutsch of marketing firm Brain Sells.

Three Basic Life Structures of Boomers
Deutsch recently released a list of suggestions for how to best target the Boomer marketplace. The Baby Boom generation is classified as people born between 1946 and 1964, meaning the oldest Baby Boomers turn 65 this year. Deutsch says understanding the following three basic life structures is critical to capturing the Boomer market:

Identity – Optimism and Adaptation to Power Diminished
The developmental history of Boomers casts them as characters that possess a self-expansive nature primarily devoid of cynicism. For the most part, the Baby Boom generation embodies a vitality that makes them survivors, even if they can’t always be thrivers.

Territoriality – Space Contracts and is Re-Articulated
As Boomers age, home range will become more important, and getting settled in new spaces, such as a smaller, closer-to-town abode or a move to a warmer climate, will require adaptation to new interpersonal and larger social arrangements.

How they will develop new networks, digital and face-to-face, will provide new opportunities for marketers. The same is true for how Boomers will develop requirements for new types of mundane services, particularly in the domains of finance, healthcare, and personal care.

Time – Perceptions of Past, Present and Future
A people age their nostalgic yearnings grow, making them more receptive to advertisers and marketers use of what researchers call a “longing for positive memories of the past.” Moreover, nostalgia can make Boomers feel that not so much time has passed between then and now, making them feel young again. Nostalgia should be considered as one marketing aesthetic to attract Boomers because it telescopes time and brings it more under each individual’s own emotional orchestration.

Points to Remember When Marketing to Boomers

  • Boomers are at a time in life when they really don’t want to compromise their authenticity.
  • For Boomers, process is at least as important as the end result. They want “the ride.”
  • Boomers like to inspire others. Help them feel helpful.
  • Boomers have been around long enough to know there are few absolutes, little is black or white.
  • Accentuate personal style over rote action or blind ritual.
  • Boomers are oriented to the human dimension, that’s the only real thing. They can see the humor in most situations.
  • What Boomers really dislike is felling put upon by arbitrary power, feeling trapped, conned, boxed-in, and being thought of as one of the masses.
  • Boomers are both creative and conservative (“A beautiful garden is wild and tended”).
  • Boomers go for what gives voice to things they are thinking and feeling, but haven’t fully worked out yet.
  • Boomers respond to what stands out by its presence, not its loudness; and what shows them it really listens and, therefore, understands.

Boomer Preferences Reflect Broader Cultural Trends
Several Boomer preferences Deutsch refers to are also emblematic of the desires of the general population, according to consumer insights firm

In its recent list of Top 10 Consumer Trends for 2010, identified several trends that closely match with Boomer trends. These include a need for companies to be transparent and honest about their efforts to conduct environmentally sustainable business practices and genuinely collaborate with their customers rather than try to dictate to them. In addition, consumers are increasingly using social networks as part of everyday life and respond well to products and services which have a charitable component.


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