Archive for the ‘Baby Boomers’ Category
As we get into the holiday season, retailers and other B2C companies are gearing up to grab their share of the discretionary spending that washes through our economy between now and early January. (And this year looks to be a decent year for spending!)
And who has the most money to spend discretionarily? Baby Boomers! Here are some data points I keep handy when talking about with clients about whom to target:
Consumers ages 47 – 66 (Baby Boomers) Facts:
- Dominate 119 out of 123 CPG categories
- 40% of customers paying for wireless service
- 41% own Apple computers
- 53% are on Facebook
- 40% most likely to use an iPhone
- Over age 50 spend $7 billion online annually
- Purchase 62.5% of new cars
- Purchase 80% of luxury travel
- 70% show up to vote in elections
- Boomers spend more money each month on technology than Gen X or Gen Y – an average of $650 per month
- Spend most on health care
- Spend most on pharmaceuticals
- One in 7 boomers care for a parent or family member
- 71% of Boomers go online every day
- 66% of Boomers send text messages
Find more on this data on MediaPost.
For the holidays in particular, the key point to factor into your holiday promotions is “Gifts for Baby Boomer Grandchildren”. Talk about a source of discretionary spending!
“The new crop of baby boomer grandparents is also doing more with, and for, their grandchildren, opening up their purses and wallets, and spending a collective total of $35 billion a year on their grandkids. On average, they spend $500 a year on grandchildren, up from $320 in 1992.” (ABC News)
Do you think such sums of money are a worthwhile target for your business? If so, inject some messaging in your marketing that makes clear that your offerings solve the ‘gifts for grandkids challenge’ for Baby Boomer grandparents:
- Educate them on the latest trends for each age group, which allows them to look savvy without having to ask. This is particularly true for Baby Boomers, who really do want to appear “with it.”
- Suggest which products or services fit a typical gift budget of $25-$100.
- If appropriate, position your product or service as having educational or developmental value for young people, which could allow the grandparent to feel they are materially contributing to the positive development of the child. This is more appropriate for Boomers with younger grandchildren, but could provide a supporting message for tech products for teenaged grandchildren.
In sum, be there to help, and to make them look good/with-it/smart while expressing their love through gifts.
Updating a logo is expensive for a retailer, with expenses running into the millions of dollars.
As people who read my recent Forbes column know, I advise against it unless completely necessary to make a break from the past that cannot be achieved through better product/service delivery. Indeed, changing logos too often confuses the marketplace and diminishes impact.
Right on the heels of that column being posted, here comes the news that Wendy’s, the burger chain, has big plans to “rebrand themselves,” including an update to the logo that has served them since 1983.
In this case, I agree with the decision to revise the logo:
- It is an acknowledgement that the fast food business has changed greatly since 1983.
- The logo says “old-fashioned hamburgers,” which isn’t exactly what they sell anymore.
- They are making changes in menu and service delivery first, and updating old decor within the restaurants to improve the dining experience.
- The logo is the last, and the least, of the changes.
- They retained strong echoes of the old logo in the new version, maintaining a link to the brand equity encapsulated in the old logo.
This underlines the flexibility with which marketers must approach their function, yet reinforces that change should not be taken lightly: Wendy’s had to admit that “old fashioned” really was old fashioned, and had to catch up to the 21st Century consumer demands, yet strove hard to tie the new back to the best of the old.
What do you think? Did they get it right, go too far, or throw away consumer goodwill with a radical change?
The “1984″ commercial that Apple ran (once) during the 1984 Super Bowl to introduce the Macintosh computer remains the most influential commercial that event has ever seen.
It set a standard for creative execution that has not been equaled for its impact and virality, long before we understood the concept of “going viral.”
- It created a competition among firms to use that highly valuable time slot more aggressively to “stand out” from the other commercials (a “creative escalation” that only now has peaked and receded.)
- It reminds us that the most critical task marketers need to focus on is “focus.” Stay on message! Don’t get seduced by attractive side alleys that waste time and money (not to mention creative energy.)
- It made us pine for great creative. Most commercials made since that event fail to meet this high standard. Most Super Bowl commercials are especially disappointing because we all expect another “1984″ each year, and don’t get one!
A friend of mine, Everett Hill, who has established a successful sales management consulting practice, has the same opinion on this famous event. Allow me to steal a quote:
“Although the airing predated the internet, it went viral even by today’s standards. It was replayed over and over on the evening news, in movie theaters, and on home VCRs. The ripple effect was extraordinary. In addition to launching the first personal computer with a mouse, it inspired countless young people to become technology entrepreneurs, has been hailed as a landmark event for gender equality, and raised the bar forever for television advertising production values.”
Click here to see this commercial again.
What creative inspiration can you take from this icon to break through the marketing clutter memorably? All you have to do is be more inspirational than your competition! Study them closely, and explore how you can do what they do, only at a higher level.
Two recent research reports confirm that we are habitual in our daily regimes. We like patterns and predictability more than change, which is why motivating “trial” of a new product or service is not like falling off a log. We must build those bridges of trust to get over the hurdles of mistrust.
Here is the first report:
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, video media sharing activities are becoming a real habit, especially (no surprise) with younger people, and (surprise!) more with Blacks and Hispanics than with Whites. Sharing electronically is embedded in our culture now, and will only rise in importance. This should not be a shock: This is just a 21st Century edition of our enjoyment of story-telling and socializing. New tools, old habits.
The key statistic: 71% of internet users (about 80% of the population at this point) interact with video sharing sites. And 28% reported doing so “yesterday!”
Video is no longer “the coming thing,” is it? How is your video marketing strategy shaping up? (Hint: I can help rough that strategy into shape!)
The second report:
According to the most recent Ad Age/Ipsos Observer American Consumer survey, 37% of newspaper readers do so out of habit. Mind you, 85% do so to catch up on “local news,” so the categories are not mutually exclusive. But, it does confirm that habits die hard!
If you are chasing an older demographic, those newspaper reading habits confirm that there is still life in the medium, especially for local businesses.
When my wife first came to the U.S. from Ukraine in the late ’90s, one of the first purchases she made was a curling iron at a local pharmacy. She remembers being stunned by the challenge of choosing among ten different brands for this basic consumer item. Frankly, she was not pleased that the store made her do all the work. Why, she wondered, didn’t the store do more to winnow down the selection on her behalf?
From my native American perspective, consumer choice is good, but I saw her point: The store could have cut the options to five, say, and still have presented a sufficient range to satisfy most customers.
Today, that winnowing process is measurably more apparent. After years of expanding store sizes and stuffing shelves with “choice,” retailers are starting to reaccept some researching and winnowing responsibility in the face of demands from older generations, who apparently don’t want to wrestle with huge stores and extensive selections anymore.
A recent post on a Boomer Blog I follow explored this trend towards smaller stores that offer fewer choices while still emphasizing quality at a fair price. Older consumers seem to be voting with their dollars in support of this, as it meets their needs for less physically demanding spaces that don’t require lots of walking.
Oh, my aching knees!
Why is this important to all marketers? Because Boomers are retiring, and they will start demanding (as usual) that we accommodate their growing infirmities! They, and their parents, are moving their business to concepts like Tesco’s Fresh and Easy: Smaller stores with less broad selection, but enough choice to satisfy shoppers who trust that the retailer’s buyers keep the customers’ needs in mind.
Much as a newspaper editor selects which news goes to his or her readers, so stores are renewing their ability to add value by screening the hoards of available products more finely, and leaving less work for the customer in the aisle.
Retail shops may start emulating the online marketing experience.
If this trend plays out fully, we may even return to the general store concept, where you walk in with your list and a counter clerk does all the walking around to fill your order. Of course, the “clerk” may be a kiosk rather than a person — and that kiosk might have a chair in front of it. At that point your bricks and mortar store experience will feel just like your online shopping experience, an ironically full turn back to the “future!”
Saturday Night Live Producer Lorne Michaels has a well-earned reputation for staying relevant. He has kept his show on the air for close to 40 years by moving with his market. Staying “plugged in,” in effect.
So it makes complete sense that he currently keeps it “up to date” by going back in time: Boomer celebrities feature heavily in his line-up, and it is clear that Boomers are the viewers he seeks, now that you don’t have to stay up past midnight to watch, with shows available 24/7 in various ways.
It’s a good media play, as many of these Boomer icons (Elton John, Steve Tyler, even SNL graduates like Dana Carvey) also have contemporary or retro appeal to younger generations who actually stay up to watch it live. The focus, though, is clearly on getting Boomers back to watching the show, because that is where the money is for advertisers.
Michaels isn’t alone, either. The entire marketing profession is waking up to the fact that their rote system of focusing attention and budgets on the 18-45 age bracket is out of date. It was built by Boomers to talk to themselves (something they still do, but that’s another story.) Now the Boomers have moved out of that bracket, and have taken their money with them.
It took a while, because the marketing business is filled with young people, but the payers of the bills (their clients) have finally pushed enough to break the young, hip, tech-savvy focus back to “who has the money?”
That would be Boomers. Still our largest generation. Still our richest generation, and still not saving any of that money for retirement. Which is good for people who try to sell them stuff, if not the Boomers themselves!
Find more at the Engage: Boomers blog on MediaPost.
Wouldn’t you know it? Snipping over arcane details is not confined to politicians in Washington or your local state capitol. People in the marketing profession can’t agree on exactly how to define our major American demographic generational segments. Not that it makes a huge difference to marketing planning if you are careful, but your choice of consumer database vendor does carry some risk of shifting your target market demographics at the edges. This has an impact, not least on measuring the potential size of your audience (and therefore your potential return on investment.)
To quote Dan Coates, President of YPulse, who wrote about this issue recently:
“Unfortunately, mapping out the size of each generation isn’t as straightforward as it should be. As you look up Generation Y on the web, some of the first words you’ll read are: “There is no consensus over the exact birth dates that define Gen Y, also known by some as echo boomers and Millennials.”"
This disagreement on how to size this key consumer segment, or even what to call “Gen Y,” extends to the research sources you may reach out to. Click here for an example of how two sources disagree on how to define American generations.
The lesson: Make your own definitions of your target market free of demographic labeling straightjackets, and then go find out how to reach them. Once you can clearly describe who you want, any vendor worth paying is going to be able to sort through the industry shorthand labels and find you what you seek.
…But their lead is shrinking. The Pew Center has released their latest survey results on who uses what media channel to communicate or otherwise interact with the rest of the world, and there are no surprises.
It still makes interesting reading for those with any interest in delivering product/services messages to each generation.
I found it interesting, for example, that social networks are fulfilling the need to share that personal blogs have fulfilled, so the “personal blog” is declining among younger generations even as it still grows in older generations.
Will social networks successfully woo businesses in the same direction? The product/corporate blog is still a growing mainstay of consumer outreach, but Facebook and others are making a big push to position themselves as the place to be for community interaction.
For now, most corporate Facebook pages are echoes of their blogs (as is corporate Twitter use to a large extent.) As capabilities for sharing content improve on social networks, however, the website-base blog may begin to cede conversational “position” to the network channels (SEO needs aside).
Here is a link to the full survey summary.
The Great Recession is accelerating the natural shift of Baby Boomers from rampant consumers to more responsible buyers, and the Green movement is also enhancing the tendency to become more responsible and less acquisitive. Boomers remain aspirational, but those aspirations are changing from material to spiritual (in a very broad sense, which means getting off the fast track, not giving a hoot what the “Joneses” are doing, smelling the roses along the way, etc.)
Matt Thornhill wrote about “responsible consumerism” in a MediaPost column, which gives a good label to the shift in society as a whole, and Boomers in particular. “…people focus not on buying more, but on getting more out of what they buy. It’s a consumer mindset our grandparents had, thanks to the Great Depression.” Read the rest of this entry »
This nice write-up on how to think about Early Baby Boomer buying behavior came across my screen over the weekend. The writer, Jim Gilmartin, has written often about Baby Boomers, so he is a man after my own heart. This piece sums up nicely the broadest consumer attributes this population cohort exhibits (sub-groups will differ, but only by degrees much less than 90).
Boomers still control the consumer purse strings in this country, and are still the largest segment of our buying public, so mindlessly chasing the younger cohorts is always a marketing mistake. Not that you emphasize Boomers over Millennials, and you must segment Boomers into smaller groups, but treating them like their grandparents is definitely a mistake!
Consider Amazon: Boomers probably buy more books than younger generations, who really do believe content should be free.
Consider Zappos: Boomers aspire to be Gen-Xers, if not Gen-Yers. It would be easy to profitably target Boomers with special shoes just for them. They still WANT to be cool, after all, unlike their parents.
Good grist for the mill, at any rate. Enjoy.