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Position Your Product as a Gateway to Meaningful Experiences

Your Markets Are Changing

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are the fastest growing, wealthiest, best educated and most sophisticated of purchasers. To better capture and keep these consumers marketing and sales communications must create motivating communications, effective sales presentations and service improvement programs. Other business costs are falling, while marketing costs are increasing. Yet, response rates to many traditional marketing and sales techniques are off. There is growing impatience with the marketing function of business that is costing more, delivering less and resists accountability. In a study of 100 leading companies, Coopers and Lybrand found marketing departments to be “ill-focused and over-indulged” with department heads who “overstated their contribution to the corporation, but could not specify what the nature of the contribution was”.

A 1995 McKinsey report somberly warned, “Doubts are surfacing about the very basis of contemporary marketing”.  The report charged marketing departments with generating “few new ideas”, being “unimaginative” and failing to “pick up the right signals”.  Finally, Kevin Clancy and Robert Shulman, both formerly with consumer researcher Yankelovich Clancy Shulman, predict a marketing revolution “because failure is self-evident and everybody – stockholders, directors, CEOs, customers, the government – is angry because marketing, which should be driving business, doesn’t work”.

Now that the adult median age is in the mid-40s and continuing to rise, pressure is building on marketing and sales professionals to learn how to better market to a dominantly older consumer population.  Progress in this direction must be founded in the recognition that young, middle-aged and older brains and minds all work differently.

Though we don’t notice it happening – any more than a child notices that he has grown an inch taller during the summer – changes take place across our full life span in how information is processed by our brain (which processes information sent to it by the five senses) and the mind (where thinking takes place).  How a 30-year-old mind processes the contents of a television commercial, print ad, or direct mail piece will be markedly different from how a 50- or 60-year-old mind processes the same information.

Who Are They? *

  1. 78 million strong with a Quest for self – “voyage to the interior”
  2. Came of age from the early fifties through the late seventies
  3. Rebelled against parents & in the 60’s – against government & Vietnam War
  4. Evolved into sustained search for personal fulfillment & as they mellowed – remained focused upon themselves
  5. Better educated & want “To be something” – not just do something is appealing
  6. Strong belief in own individual capabilities & believe “it” can be done
  7. Fixated on self-improvement & accomplishment & evaluate success in terms of personal achievement
  8. Want one unbelievable experience after another
  9. Middle age brings worries that they won’t own the American dream but they will try to rent it when & where they can
  10. Indulged by parents taught by Dr. Benjamin Spock & grew up with strong sense of entitlement
  11. Confident that progress & prosperity would continue & do what they can to avoid disappointment of expectations.  They go where they can beat the odds and this is a driving force behind purchase motivators.  Still strive to come out on top
  12. Grew up with expectations, life skills & values created by the unbridled economic growth of their formative years
  13. Sense of privilege & high divorce rate
  14. Likely to part of a married couple & 2 out of 3 married
  15. Strongly tied to the workplace & economic optimism freed them from worrying about basic survival
  16. Boomers have always spent their money – get it now – no lines & no waiting!
  17. Boomers rosy outlook motivated causes like civil rights & woman’s movement.  Believed including others wouldn’t diminish there entitlement
  18. Boomers have always broken the rules:
    • Drugs
    • Sex
    • Rock & Roll
  19. Individuality was lionized & conformity was eschewed.  Rules that interfered were easily broken
  20. Boomers challenged authority, blurred gender roles, embraced the unconventional
  21. Boomers want to be on top & in charge & they believe they know best.  Their independence based upon self-confidence
  22. The struggle to remain in control & get their perceived entitlement has motivated Boomers marketplace activities in the last two decades
  23. The turning point for Boomers was 1979
    • Three Mile Island
    • Stagflation
    • Unemployment
    • Iran hostage crises
    • Cold war warmed up
    • Gas lines made their return
    • Chrysler almost folded
  24.  Boomers began to doubt the system & couldn’t take the future for granted
  25. Began adopting a “New Realism” – a desire for control – single minded focus upon not loosing
  26. “Conspicuous consumption” & “strategic shopping” were ways to show Boomers as winners & brands no longer dominated the marketplace.  Loyalty waned.
  27. Clipped coupons to ferret out the best deals & marketers capitulated & spent more on promotions than advertising
  28. Crash of ’87 changed mantra from “shop till you drop” to “drop shopping”
  29. Thought they were winning but were losing
    • Latchkey kids
    • Debt & weight higher than ever & Diabetes at record high
    • Financial heroes to jail
    • Finding themselves laid off
  30. Boomers turned bitter & cast themselves a victims & resentment & anger dominated the 80s & 90s
  31. Took out frustrations on marketers & retailers & the era of anti-brand & customer satisfaction blossomed
  32. Today the marketplace belligerence is subsiding & Boomer self-absorption & control reemerging
  33. Sense of possibility regained & reorganizing priorities
  34. Growth opportunities for marketing & sales if:
    • Better understand the values driving Boomer consumption motivations
      • Ingrained generational values motivates consumer behavior
  35. They will keep on spending
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