Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Part 2

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Part Two

Recently, Bloomberg News published an article called, ”Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Aching for $15 Trillion Prize”. It discusses how the corporate world hasn’t yet figured out to tap into the vast commercial market of us Oldsters.

With the kind permission of Bloomberg News, we have serialized it with our Olderhood Commentary on the salient points. It is longer than our usual articles so we’ve chopped it into TWO parts. Each Part is longer than our usual articles but the information is of high interest.

Original text in italics.

The full article, in original form, is available at Bloomberg News.

  1.  Introduction
  2. Unmet Needs
  3.  ‘Silver Shoppers’
  4. Spending Power
  5.  Tipping Point
  6. Working Past 65
  7.  ‘Revolution Coming’
  8. Under Radar
  9. ‘Ageless Explorers’
  10. Aging Consumer Paradox

5.            Tipping Point

Baby boomers, 8,000 of whom turn 65 each day in America, have reinvented each stage of life they’ve entered, from young adulthood to careers to parenting. And whether they’re working or retired, wealthy or on a fixed income, living alone or with other seniors, they aim to redefine what it means to be old.

Olderhood commentary :

This is very true. The baby boomers, perhaps like no other group in history, saw what their parents suffered in World War Two, and frankly decided that their suffering was not for them. The biggest change in lifestyle post-War, was when the female population entered the workplace in droves. This caused a massive tsunami in products and services. The contribution of women in the workplace is grossly under-estimated, yet it is their determination to change things that caused the global markets to explode – by providing the comforts, the greater needs and wants, and the better essentials that the world, post-War, simply demanded. Their efforts can never be ignored, nor under-stated.

That spirit of change they were born with, has never deserted them. The status quo of life and lifestyle was never a proposition they adhered to. They were determined to live a better life, a more peaceful life, a more comfortable life, and a wealthier life than their parents and grandparents. Therefore, as this group is now the Oldsters, then it stands to reason that their never-say-die approach to life will continue into their older years. They are the pioneers, the innovators, the revolutionaries if you will. They want change, they want new things, and they want to enjoy life. Simple as that.

6.            Working Past 65

Boomers watch 174 hours of television a month, 63 percent more than Millennials, the 18-to-34 year-old generation. More than half of them are on Facebook. In 2011, the peak age of vehicle buyers shifted upward to 55-to-64 from 35-to-44, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and that trend is here to stay.

Olderhood commentary :

Now, isn’t that interesting information. I can understand why the TV viewing numbers are high, but admit that the Facebook numbers astound me. There is no doubt that us Boomers are much more technically savvy than we’re given credit for. But, the knowledge they possess, is, in our opinion, of the no-nonsense variety. In other words, bamboozle them with trickery, or complexity, or stupidity, then you lose them. If it makes sense, and is plausibly presented, then this group will show their adventurous tendencies and embrace the new world.

There is still no doubt that television advertising leads the way. There is still an authenticity to seeing something advertised on CBS, ABC, NBC, CBC, ITV in the UK. There is an implied endorsement that the TV companies wouldn’t showcase something that was misleading, wrong, dangerous, crooked, etc. Internet advertising, they say, is catching up. Hmmm… !! If advertisers would only grasp the fact that “pop-ups” are so irritating that their sales impact is in the negative column with us Oldsters (and maybe the young crowd too). A whole new culture of advertising to the Oldster Market is desperately needed.

7.            ‘Revolution Coming’

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) noticed: In April, the world’s largest e-commerce company introduced a website dedicated to customers over 50, featuring hundreds of thousands of items from vitamins and blood-pressure monitors to skin-care products and books on traveling the world.

“You’d have to be an idiot to turn your back on this humongous growth market,” said Jody Holtzman, head of the AARP’s Thought Leadership unit.

That helps explain why only about 15 percent of advertising dollars are spent on this demographic, despite accounting for almost half of consumer packaged-goods sales, according to Nielsen data.

Olderhood commentary :

“Travel for Oldsters” is certainly a winning slogan. The world has never experienced a more powerful demographic dynamic focused on travel. Oldsters are knowledgeable – more than any previous old group – and they have the money. A week by the seaside is what they did when they were kids, so they’ve tasted that experience. But that’s not good enough for them now. Obviously world travel, notwithstanding security delays, is so much easier now for them than ever before. Flying across the world for a week is commonplace these days. Yet when they were young, they grew up amidst people who emigrated to Australia and were never seen, or heard from, ever again. Going on a stag night in Prague, leaving from Manchester, was a laughable notion back in the 50s and 60s. Today, people leave Glasgow for a “hen’s weekend” in Las Vegas.

Catering to the old brigade by way of exotic travel adventures, yet in comfort, is a booming business. The “make-do” philosophy of our parents will never catch on with us Oldsters. If it ain’t comfortable, we ain’t going.

8.            Under Radar

Seniors today are looking for new experiences, and two-thirds of them plan to spend more time on hobbies and interests than they do today. In marketing-speak, they’re “winnable.”

Olderhood commentary :

This is really the core message of this article. In one phrase, the author nails it. “They’re winnable” – perfect.

Oldsters are open to being influenced or persuaded or “sold to”. But they will never be convinced to buy, if the only type of marketing to them is predominated by a lack of mobility, falling down, memory loss, bladder problems and so forth. Don’t they get it …?   WE understand that some, or all, of those types of problems in our lives require help, but do we need to be reminded of them every time an Oldster-centric commercial is shown.

“Hey, we know you’re in your later years, but check out this new skateboard for Oldies. It is rubberized so it won’t jump up and smack you on the legs. It has extra wheels so you won’t fall over so much. It has a “find me” sensor so you can remember where you left it. Clap you hands and it says “I’m over here”. It has a hole at the back so you stick your thumb through it to pick it up easily.” Simple really.

9.            ‘Ageless Explorers’

Myth: They’re one big group. Lumping a 54-year-old Iditarod champ with a 95-year-old nursing home resident makes no sense. Nor does simply dividing them into age brackets. Dychtwald separates the 50-plus market into four segments, based on their relative levels of activity and happiness: “Ageless Explorers” are youthful optimists, while “Sick and Tireds” are unfulfilled worrywarts.

Myth: They’re cheap. A survey of 3,000 consumers over 60 by consulting firm A.T. Kearney found that they’re not particularly price-sensitive, even if their incomes are below average. Although earlier generations of seniors were frugal, there are signs that boomers, a group steeped in consumer culture like none before it, will continue to spend as they age. Even though many boomers have saved far too little for retirement, the sheer size of the wave gives it buying power never before seen in an emerging group of elderly.

In Japan, where 40 percent of the population will be over 65 by 2060 – compared with 22 percent in the U.S.

Olderhood commentary :

It is undeniable that one 60 year-old’s lifestyle, needs and desires, are different from another 60 year-old. So, to group us all into the same target market is stupid. An active person wants to travel, or exercise, or climb mountains. A person with some health issues is probably happier at home, or in the shopping mall, or playing with the dog at home. If corporates sell their products or services based on age, then their rock climbing equipment marketing budget is off target for x% of their perceived audience. Is that difficult to understand ..?

One of the common mistakes of the corporate marketing world is the belief that something will only be of interest to Oldsters if it is cheap. Wrong, wrong and did I say, wrong. We want VALUE. “All you can eat for $5”. Yuk !!!!

So, the author is correct – another “myth”.

10.          Aging Consumer Paradox

Mike Sanders, the ponytailed, 30-year-old Cincinnati native has taken part in more Live Well projects than just about anyone, first as a University of Cincinnati undergrad, then as a graduate instructor, and now on the corporate side, as a P&G design manager.

One thing he’s learned along the way: “Seniors”, he said, “have a hard time imagining what they need.” Maybe that’s because they’re still figuring it out. The reinvention of aging won’t happen overnight.

Olderhood commentary :

Mike Sanders is right – the reinvention of aging won’t happen overnight, but for us Oldsters there is no time like the present. Trying to hang around waiting for the reinvention may sound fine, but how long do we Oldsters have to wait…?

As we wait for the corporate world to invent, or create, or design, and then to produce goods and services for us, we’ll just be getting on with our lives anyway, thank you very much.

Maybe we don’t fully understand what we want. Maybe we’ll just have to get on with whatever it is we think we like. Maybe we’ll never know. But then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. Let’s just seek happiness and peace of mind … and when we find them, embrace them.

If you want to wear your woolly cardigan

instead of the cashmere number,

then just do it.

3 responses to “Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Part 2

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