Baby Boomers Offer Diverse Marketing Opportunities

Still the Kings and Queens of Disposable Income!

Still the Kings and Queens of Disposable Income!

The Baby Boom Generation collectively still has its hands on the lion’s share of disposable income in 2015, and this isn’t likely to change for a number of years even as they pass business and social leadership batons to Generation X.

So as a marketing manager or small businessperson, what can you sell as a product or provide as a service that would solve Boomer consumer problems or scratch their adventurous “I’m really still 25” itch?

Lots of research (just do a search online) can help guide you, but watch out for conflicting results, and draw your own conclusion rather than rely on the opinions of others, especially if you have a concentrated geographic target market with particular demographic profiles.

Fidelity has just issued a report that purports to bust some generally held assumptions about what drives Boomers into retirement, and how ready for it they truly are financially.

The upshot is that Boomers are a varied collection of people. They share similar challenges that come with age, but are diverse in their interests, and in the resources they can bring to bear to address the challenges. Read the rest of this entry »

Generation X Taking the Financial Reins from Baby Boomers

The first survey is in, from research company Ipsos, that finds the members of Generation X outnumbering Baby Boomers among the 23% of the U.S. population Ipsos calls “Affluent.”*

  • 37% of Affluents are Gen Xers (aged 34-50)
  • 33% are Baby Boomers (aged 51-69)
  • 25% are Millennials (18-33)
  • 5% are Seniors (70+).

Net worth naturally lags income in shifting generations, so Seniors and Baby Boomers still hold the wealth, but Gen Xers are the children of Seniors, so that wealth may fall to them over the next ten years.


American Affluents by Generation (At Least $100K HH Income)
  Share of Affluent Population Median Self-Reported Annual Net Worth
Millennials (18-33)



GenX (34-50)



Baby Boomers (51-69)



Seniors (70+)



Source: Ipsos, September 2015


What does this mean for a company seeking affluent customers or clients? It may mean a shift in emphasis away from conspicuous consumption and “not acting their age” (Baby Boomer characteristics). Generation X is broadly more practical, skeptical and financially more conservative than Baby Boomers. They also bridge the gaps in habits, attitude and technological savvy between Baby Boomers and the Boomers’ Millennial children.

Also, by paying attention to Generation X explicitly in your marketing, you may actually surprise them and earn their loyalty (as far as this generation gives its loyalty!) This generation is a lost generation among marketers, with the spotlight (and dollar spend) moving directly from Boomers to Millennials.

For more on the mindsets and motivations of Generation Xers, read this article on their leadership styles to get a sense for how to talk to this underappreciated population cohort.


*To be affluent in Ipsos’ eyes, your household income must be at least $100,000. This is certainly arbitrary: That income for an urban New Yorker or San Franciscan would make them solidly middle class, but not affluent. In other parts of the country, $100,000 supports a better lifestyle.


I Dislike the Idea of a Facebook “Dislike” Button

The big news of the day (yesterday) was the public admission by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook is working on a new option for responding to FB posts by friends: A “dislike” button.

Facebook Dislike Button

Would you prefer “dislike” or “appreciate” as an option for showing empathy on Facebook?

There is an immediate disconnect here. “Dislike” signals emotional opposition to the content posted, with its closest practical synonym being “disagree.” Facebook, however, sees this as giving their users a way to signal empathy, not disagreement. Does “dislike” signal “I feel for you, thanks for sharing this?” It doesn’t to me. “Appreciate” would better serve that need to express empathy for a post about negative personal or social news.

When you “like” something, you are signalling:
–You like the post
–You like that the person shared it
–You like a specific comment
Consider “dislike”:
–You dislike the post
–You dislike that the person shared it
–You disliked a specific comment
Now consider an “Appreciate” button, in place of a “dislike” button.
–You appreciate the post
–You appreciate that the person shared it
–You appreciate the comment
I understand that “appreciate” is three characters longer than “dislike,” and harder to fit within the space available, but that is an engineering challenge that should be surmountable.

E-Mail Remains Tops for Generating Conversions

direct marketing news bluelogoI have some confirmatory data to share regarding the paramountcy of e-mail marketing within the total marketing mix for any company. All of these come courtesy of a report put out by Direct Marketing News E-mail Report:

The upshot is that the humble e-mail remains a core weapon in getting opted-in prospects to try your product or service, and customer to repeat. Plus, the sheer quantity of e-mails received by your targets demands that you spend a lot of time testing better subject lines and content.

1. 122,500,453,020 emails are sent every hour. (MarketingProfs)

2. Seventy-six percent of marketers say that they use basic segmentation in their email marketing.  (Econsultancy and Adestra)

3. When it comes to worldwide email opens, Apple iPhone has the largest market share (28%), followed by Gmail (16%), Apple iPad (12%), Outlook (9%), Apple Mail (8%), and Google Android (7%). (Litmus)

4. Email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter at acquiring customers. (McKinsey & Company)

5. The volume of email marketing rose by 15.5% in Q1 2015 compared to Q1 2014. (Experian Marketing Services)

6. Seventy percent of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. (Exact Target)

7. Sixty-one percent of shoppers say they like to receive promotional emails weekly; 28% want them more frequently. (MarketingSherpa)

8. If an email does not display correctly, about 71% of recipients will delete it—immediately. (BlueHornet)

9. Fifty-three percent of emails are opened on mobile devices; compare that to less than 20% about three years ago. (MNSearch Summit)

10. Using marketing automation can increase conversion rates by more than 50%. (Aberdeen Group)

There you are. Data points to get you both excited and nervous!


Boomers Have the Money – And Listen to Radio

I found this lovely quote in a recent article on MediaPost’s Boomer Blog:

“Let’s not forget that boomers account for nearly $230 billion in sales for consumer packaged good; they control nearly 70 percent of the nation’s disposal income and they stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years.”

If you want to focus your marketing on the people who can buy your product or service today, rather than in 20 years when they have serious money in their pockets (hello, Millennials), focus on Boomers as your most profitable consumer pool.

And they still listen to radio, because that was the new thing when they (including me) were young, and habits are hard to break unless you give us a really good reason to change. We still have that habit. Research would probably support the idea that Boomers are keeping AM/FM radio on the air, as younger generations move to more personalized audio sources.

That trend is affecting Boomers, too, of course. We like nothing better than to act young and adopt the latest trendy gizmo. But as we have aged, we do that less. So we will be listening to the radio a lot once we retire and start spending our inherited loot.

boomers-radio habits

So think about Boomers, and think “radio” if that market segment makes sense and your product lends itself to a broad audience rather than a niche.


Yellow Pages Continue to Shrink

I received my YP book late last week. Look how it has shrunk: Down to a half inch on the binding!

The incredible shrinking Yellow Pages. How long before it disappears?

The incredible shrinking Yellow Pages. How long before it disappears?

As you might expect, the ads have been bought by emergency services like plumbers and lawyers. A number of slots were taken up by YP promotional spots, so they couldn’t sell the book out.

With their online versions also struggling against Google, Bing and other more universal search options, this media property can’t have long to live.

I wrote about this on, a while back. That article still gets hits, so the questions remains a live one for local businesses. My recommendation cannot be “go for it.” Better to put that hard-earned cash into online search, SEO and other tactics.

One caveat: If you are focused on the Senior Consumer, you may still have some chance of generating leads from the old YP. But that’s it from my perspective!


A New Golden Age for Marketing? McKinsey Thinks So.

mckinsey-logoAmid talk of MTOs (Marketing Technology Officer) and the explosion of both analytic power and targeting tools (think “Account-Based Marketing”), it is clear that Marketing may be in the midst of a big comeback from the dark days of the Great Recession. The fierce battles over scarce budget dollars from 2007-2013 created a zero-sum game in executive suites that CMOs did not have enough data to fight.

The proliferation of social media and other “hot” marketing tools also made the job stressful, because everyone wanted big social media successes, but few actually panned out.

This is evolving, however. Analytics are catching up to the needs of CXOs to justify expense, and new digital marketing tools really allow deep targeting of potential customers, and targeting their location and place in the buying cycle.

Used consistently, and analyzed rigorously, these new capabilities are going to make Marketing a real player in controlling the drive to raise topline growth strategies.

Read more about this in an insightful article posted recently on McKinsey & Co.’s blog.


A Collection of Good Marketing Advice Gathered by Vertical Response

bestmarketinginfographics-619x350The image to the right provides a link to Vertical Response’s collection of popular infographics for 2014 on various marketing topics. I looked through the lot and think they have curated a decent set of advice. Some of each will be repetitive (marketing is not rocket science, and the basic good practices evolve less quickly than industry pundits would have you think), but overall these presentations are a good reminder about how to stick to a basic plan in each marketing channel, and give it time to work!



Forget Millennials – Boomers Have All the Money and Gen Xers Have a Bunch Too

Marketing as an industry has been obsessed with youth since Baby Boomers grabbed the reins 40 years ago and promptly focused the whole shebang on themselves (a very Boomer thing to do that is still a bad habit).

Marketing run by and for Youth, however, begins to run out of gas as a strategy when you recognize that all the money is still in Boomer pockets (and the pockets of their parents.) Why chase poor Millennials with millions of dollars in marketing spend when they cannot buy what you sell?

Here are some reasons people give:

Boomers follow what Millennials do, and buy what Millennials declare as “cool.”

This has some truth to it. Boomers are “forever 25″ and don’t want to be 60+. So they grab the trappings of youth with both hands and spend accordingly. This is why product managers of products that are targeted at Boomers clothe their messaging in youthful images. (Think health products and service, most notoriously drugs that help with erectil dysfunction. And recall Toyota’s initial success with its Scion nameplate was among Baby Boomers who wanted to appear cool, even though it was targeted at young Gen Xers.)

header-engageboomersAs Mark Bradbury asserted in a recent article on MediaPost, marketers can still wrap their products in the imagery of youth, but should try to win the hearts and wallets of Baby Boomers if they want to make real money. And Gen Xers are soon to join the 50+ segment, and have almost as much money as Boomers. So a strategy that works to extract business from Boomers will need just a little adjustment to work with Gen Xers.

What does that mean? Start using 30 or 40-something models in your marketing instead of kids. That is the image that Baby Boomers have of themselves, and the imagery they want to relate to.

Now you just have to make it so.


Follow the Bouncing Coupon – CPG Moves Promotion to Where the Eyeballs Are

Offers coming to the phone near you!

Offers coming to the phone near you!

Consumer Packaged Goods companies are full of smart folks, even if they need to see the whites of the marketing opportunity’s eyes before pulling the trigger on significant investments in new promotional channels.

But mobile searching, beaconing and showrooming are now embedded in consumer behavior, and protecting market share means being there when the phone comes out and people are pinged by local retailers with offers.

Laurie Sullivan, writing for MediaPost, confirms that CPG giants are fully on board with local mobile communications, and are ramping up programs to promote their brands and help their merchants gain the shopper’s attention (and hold it.)

“By targeting custom audiences based on location,” writes Sullivan, “traffic patterns and habits, along with demographic and transactional information from matching mobile devices to household-level data, CPG ads generated a 74% increase in foot traffic and 56% lift in visit frequency via location-powered media for retailers.” Sullivan is referring to data from a new report by Verve, a xxxx company.

Strategically this is not news. Trade Promotion at the point-of-sale has always been a demand-driver for CPG brands, and drives trial through the retail locations. Moving the coupons to the phone is the key change, and technology is making such campaigning much more affordable and scalable.

What can a smaller business do, now that the Big Boys of Retail are horning into local digital marketing?

  • Lean on those CPG companies for whom you sell to cut you in on the action.
  • Keep your own efforts at permission marketing in high gear.
  • Protect your turf by amassing a strong contact database within your market area.
  • Ramp up referral programs that feature great values as rewards and promotions. Emphasize being truly local.

All of this activity is local, and smaller businesses still “do local” better than big national chains, so keep at it. Concede no ground!