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#1 Mature Marketing/Boomers

by Louis on January 12, 2009

As the huge boomer cohort gets older, products, marketing and media should adjust focus to the concerns and issues of a more mature audience. To start this topic I call attention to what I call the “the consistent paradox”. It is the gray area between older, aging consumers and boomers. A conversation, presentation or article starts with boomers and ends with older folks or the other way starting with old folks and ending with boomers. This happens regularly, without notice or acknowledgment. The phenomena occurs when talking about needs, attitudes and behavior, resources and marketing. Everyone seems confused.

Look at this headline: Baby Boomer Cruise – The Only Way For Seniors to Travel“. I am a boomer but not a senior. Most seniors are not boomers. Who are we talking about? Do we know the difference? Does it matter?

An NPR report from the Consumer Electronic Show provides new evidence of the consistent paradox. They talk about the SilverSummit@CES, a special new section dedicated to the boomer market. The reporter notes that all featured products focus on health or deterioration. Is that for boomers? Mary Furlong, a boomer market guru refers to the 78 million strong market size of the boomer population, yet the products were designed for the 30 million strong older population. Thirty million is worth pursuing, but we will be more effective if we get straight on what we are doing and for whom.

The older ‘needs’ market is pretty clear. Providers are based in the old ‘aging network‘ connecting through area agencies on aging, homecare, assisted living, nursing homes and medicare. Needs marketing is done by community resource guides, word of mouth and materials provided by health and social professionals.

Entrepreneurs interested in boomer business aren’t pursuing that market. They want to sell discretionary products and services that enhance lifestyle, compete for consumer attention and grow in proportion to the size and wealth of the boomer market. They want to reach boomers who have dollars to spend and desires to be filled.

Mainstream media and marketing is slow to realize the boomer bulge has moved on. Most media and marketing is still focused on the 18-45 year old demographic – where these industries emerged in the past half century. Boomer consumers often feel marginalized or insulted by shows, ads and messages meant for younger and older consumers. They are not the older, frail, needy consumers, yet they are no longer 18-45. The disconnect may be this- boomers, the folks that were that 18-45 demographic, have grown older. Their interests and motivations are different, matured.

Mature consumers are bored by the sophomoric concentration on stuff in most advertising. They don’t need more stuff. On the flip side it is impossible to sell a car designed for eighty year olds to someone younger, and more importantly, it is also impossible to sell that car to an eighty year old, on that basis, either. For mature consumers it is often not about the product. Marketing must be subtle. The benefits are outside the value of the product.

I have done presentations for the building and remodeling industry over the past few years about how to reach this market. My approach is not limited to that industry. This entry starts a series on mature marketing based on these presentations. The series will cover five keys I have identified-
1.Time 2.Value 3.Trust 4.’Gateway Experience’* 5. Legacy

*credit must be given to David Wolfe, the ‘ageless’ marketing guru

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