Marketers have to radically change their current mindset about connecting with 50 plus populations. Ten years ago in the forward of the book Ageless Marketing by the late David Wolfe, Jagdish N. Sheth wrote “Current demographic mega trends add to the urgency of the need to do so. Developing markets such as North America, Europe, and Japan are characterized by much slower growth and a simultaneous maturing of the population, blurring the gender distinctions, and the rise of feminine values in society and hence the marketplace. More and more consumers are in the more highly evolved later stages of life, which is reflected in every aspect of how they lead their lives. Marketing must learn how to relate to such consumers.”
The trouble, of course, is that as people have matured and markets have evolved, too much of marketing hasn’t and often remains stuck in a time warp of hucksterism.
Sheth goes on to say “While people have become more preservation/ conservation minded, marketers have remained spend thrifts and wasteful. While people have become more spiritual in outlook, marketing remains crassly materialistic. While people focus more on achieving their own potential, marketing remains obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses. While people are digging deeper to discover the substance of people and things, marketing remains fixated on outward appearances. While people are more concerned with authenticity in every aspect of their life, marketing is riddled with inaccuracy and insincerity.”
There is a reason for these shifts in focus among baby Boomer and older customers. Although all of us have basic values and motivators that drive us, we manifest them differently as we move through the spring, summer, fall and winter of life. Marketing to Baby Boomer and older customers is different primarily because of this shift in value manifestations. Our need for identity, relationships, purpose, gaining knowledge and growth, rejuvenation and recreation are always with us, but as we grow older, we focus more on having meaningful experiences, rather than gaining material goods.
In addition to the aging population in general, marketers need to improve their relationship with Baby Boomer and older women. As women work later into life and control more financial assets, more than half of women say they are upgrading the quality of products and services in their lives. In a study on women purchasing habits, one 55-year-old woman commented, “Advertisers don’t seem to understand that most of the wealth in this country is in the hands of Baby Boomer and older people”. As they upgrade quality, on average, women over the age of 50 spend more than women between the ages of 20 and 49.”
“Economic opportunity No. 1” says Tom Peters echoing the value of Baby Boomer women. Peters goes on to say “The numbers are unequivocal, the gender differences are undeniable, the opportunity is inarguable and the market is enormous. Add in Baby Boomer and older customer women’s role as ‘purchasing officer’ for consumer goods and for corporations and agencies, and, in effect, you have an American Women’s Economy that accounts for over half of the U.S. GDP – about $5 trillion. The opportunity – trillions of dollars in the U.S. alone is waiting. American women by themselves are, in effect, the largest ‘national’ economy on earth. Unfortunately, too many companies don’t get it and often pay little attention to these lucrative targets.”
So strive for a positive first impression. It can become embedded especially deep in the emotions of the Baby Boomer and older customer (especially women) — so much so that the customer is often more disposed to be a faithful customer than the younger customer is. Be vulnerable, honest and open about who you really are. The more honest you are, the better your chances are of developing a good solid bond in the relationship.
Finally, successful marketers understand what motivates Baby Boomer and older customers is experiences that lead to improved control of their life, maintaining independence, opportunities to develop or improve relationships and ways to give back to local and world communities, share wisdom, recreate and sooth the soul.