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Some Best Practices For Connecting With Boomers & Older Customers

I’m often asked “What are the ‘best’ (most effective methods/strategies) to target specific groups of boomer and older customers? Here are some thoughts for consideration. They by no means cover all ways to connect with these markets.

In addition to including their images in ads, using a language that resonates with them, traditional TV, print, direct mail and online marketing works well with boomer and older customers. Targeted media is also very effective. The following outlines additional insights that should increase success in these markets:

  • Your marketing should be honest and authentic. Avoid hyperbole. They’ve lived long enough to know hype when they see it. Goods and services must perform as advertised. Remember boomer and older customers put a lot of faith in word of mouth referrals.
  • Don’t use chronological age to predict who they are and what they’ll do. Remember, we all have a chronological and a cognitive age. Sixty year olds see 40 something’s looking back at them in the mirror. In marketing terms, older images may cause boomer and older customers not to resonate with your message but be careful to be authentic in the image selections.
  • Just like other groups, boomer and older customers identify with others who reflect their core values, their lifestyle, and their stage of life. Marketing of products to boomer and older customers should appeal to their core values and motivators. For example, goods and services that “celebrate the vitality, energy and individuality” of the purchaser are more tempting than those that do not.
  • Fun sells. Anything you can do to get a “Wow” reaction should work for you. This approach suggests sensory stimulation, preferably with other people around. The experience has to be social and sensory, as well as quick, easy, and convenient. In other words, fun is no longer fun if it involves too much work.
  • They also expect value for their money. Boomer and older customers do research on goods and services before they spend their money.

I’m also asked “What about social media? What new opportunities does it represent for niche boomer and older customer marketing?”

What are they doing online? Ninety-three percent regularly or occasionally use the Internet to research products prior to purchase. Almost half (46 percent) say searches are triggered by traditional advertising or an article they’ve read; nearly as many (45 percent) are prompted by television or other broadcast media.

The following are key findings from the study comparing Internet users 50 + to those under 50:

  • The Internet as news source – Users 50+ goes online more frequently to check for news compared to those under 20. Forty-two percent of users 50 and boomer and older check the Internet for news daily or several times a day, compared to 18 percent of users under 20.
  • Participation in online communities – A large percentage of Internet users 50 and boomer and older who are members of online communities report extensive involvement in their communities and benefits from their participation. Fifty-eight percent of members 50 and boomer and older log in to their online community daily or several times a day, compared to 47 percent of members under 20.
  • Social activism – Thirty-six percent of members 50 and older said their social activism has increased since they began participating in online communities for social causes, compared to 29 percent of members under 20.
  • Browse in retail stores, then buy online – Users in both the 50+ and under 50 groups have similar online shopping habits. Sixty-eight percent of users 50+ say they sometimes or often browse in retail stores and then buy online, compared to 72 percent of users under 50.
  • Maintaining social relationships – forty-six percent of users under 50 said the Internet was important or very important in maintaining their social relationships, which is identical to the percentage for those over 70.
  • Importance of online information – A larger percent of users under 20 compared to those over 50 (85% vs.76%) said that the Internet is an important or very important source of information. However, the percentage of those over 50 who state this has grown substantially in five years (2005 to 2010), up slightly more than half (55%).
  • Importance of online communities – Both 50+ and under 20 online community members say their online community is very important or extremely important to them: (70 percent of members 50 and boomer and older, and 68 percent of members under 20).

According to findings from the Center for the Digital Future released in conjunction with AARP said “The perception is that Americans over 50 only dabble on the Internet, but we are finding that they are increasingly spending time online becoming involved in robust Internet activities, such as online communities (Facebook, etc.). In specific areas, there is often little difference in use of online technology between boomer and older users and some of the youngest users.” Those that discount new media – assuming that boomer and older customers fail to use it – are making a big blunder.

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