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A Paradigm Shift Mandates New Marketing Rules: An Introduction to Ageless Marketing

In the last quarter of the 20th Century a demographic force – the advent of “the Pill” in the 1960s resulted in the fertility rate dropping below levels necessary to replace the population. This led to dramatic changes in age ratios in the population – the median age of adults had risen to nearly 45, entering the midlife years when behavior generally becomes more individuated and autonomous predisposing them to demand more personal attention. This launched a massive paradigm shift that is dissolving guiding principles of marketing that have prevailed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

A paradigm is not a way of doing things; it is a way of thinking about things. A new marketing paradigm cannot be understood according to the rules of the paradigm it replaces. Unfortunately, there are no clear maps of marketing principles for guiding management. However, there is an approach where marketers can play the role of cartographer in the days of discovery. Developed by David B. Wolfe, a behaviorally based approach to consumer research and marketing practice he calls developmental relationship marketing (DRM) or Ageless Marketing offers companies guidance in making the transition to customer centricity. DRM’s behavioral foundations make it possible to anticipate changes in consumers’ behavior patterns.

The primary premise of DRM is that DNA encoded developmental forces substantially influence, by season of life, the general character of a person’s worldviews, needs, motivations, needs satisfaction approaches and how a person mentally processes information. DRM is the first consumer modeling approach to not only draw on developmental psychology, but on brain science. DRM protocols reflect a number of recent discoveries about how the brain processes information, including differences between males and females and differences between adults of varying ages.

A person’s worldviews, needs, motivations and general approaches to needs satisfaction are predisposed – not predetermined — by his current season of life (lifestage), and originate in five systems of underlying motivating values.

  • Identity Values:
    Sense of Self, and differentiation, maximization and perpetuation of Self
  • Relationship Values:
    Connections for orientation, grounding, validation of Self, and resources for help in meeting needs; includes institutions and belief systems.
  • Purpose Values:
    Commanding focus of Self’s energy output and efforts
  • Adaptation Values      :
    Skills, knowledge, for fulfillment of the Self’s potential
  • Energy Values:
    Health and well-being of the Self in the physical, psychological domains

We manifest these values differently depending on our stage of life. For example, when we’re younger our Identity values are shaped by outside influences including family, community, school, friends, etc. As we move into the fall and winter of life others have less influence on our beliefs, behavior and attitudes and we become more autonomous in our thinking.

Says brain researcher Bernard Baars in In the Theater of the Brain “Our inability to report intentions and expectations simply reflect the fact that they are not qualitatively conscious. A more dramatic discovery is that motivations do not originate in the conscious mind. This discovery seriously undermines traditional ideas about how to learn about customers’ motivations. It is a discovery that is bound to reshape both research and marketing.

The DRM model for framing an approach to connecting with older customers is patterned after the way the human brain works. When information enters the brain’s cortex – the outer layers of the brain – it is first processed in the right brain which works like an assembly of parallel computers, performing what brain scientists call associative processing. The right brain tackles information brought in by the senses, looking for associations between incoming information and a person’s interests. It prioritizes the information through information triage in order to narrow the flow of information to the conscious mind to what its working memory can handle.

And, the right hemisphere cannot process abstractions like words and numbers. They must be converted to sensory images first. When information presented to the brain is affect-free or emotionally neutral, the brain has to work harder to process the information than if the information has already been reduced to sensory images. By using storytelling techniques to your message becomes more vivid, engaging, memorable and compelling. To learn more visit: http://agelessmarketing.typepad.com/ageless_marketing/2004/07/the_art_of_cond.html

After marketing strategies and plans have been completed and are ready for implementation, we enter the message planning stage. No matter the quality of discovery, research and analysis, and the integration of quantitative and qualitative input, a marketing project’s outcome ultimately depends on the character and quality of communications with consumers. Beginning with a clear direction (strategic thinking), management will avoid the dilemma described by Lewis Carroll in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. When Alice, lost in wonderland, came upon the Cheshire Cat at a fork in the road, and asked “Which road do I take”, the cat responded, “It really doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going.


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