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How Retailers Can Reconnect With Boomer Consumers

March 19, 2013 By Ken Robbins
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About 10,000 people in the United States will turn 65-years-old today. And tomorrow. And the day after. In fact, every day for the next 19 years there will be 10,000 more Americans reaching retirement age. The numbers are staggering and a major reason why retailers need to start taking notice.

Still the largest demographic with the most monetary spend, boomer consumers are too often being missed. Former "Today" show host Jane Pauley made a great point recently when she said that marketers were always taught to market to people 18-45 because that's where the boomers were. Well, here's some breaking news: they're not there anymore. Boomers are now in their 50s and 60s, getting ready for retirement and looking forward to just enjoying life.

Boomers control nearly $3 trillion of the disposable income in the U.S. and are spending $7 billion a year online. Despite determining nearly half of the nation's consumption spending, boomers are typically left out of the mix as only 10 percent of marketing is directed at them.

If retailers want to reach this demographic again, they need to start understanding what motivates boomers. It begins with the following:

  • Imagery: Baby boomers need to be portrayed as active. The imagery needs to be consistent with how boomers view themselves, not how marketers look at 50- and 60-year-olds of previous generations. Healthy, active lifestyles should be shown, as boomers are far more fit and have more life left in them than they're treated.
  • Value proposition: Understand that even if boomers are well off, they become more value conscious and less concerned with prestige as they get older. Headlines have to tie back to the value boomers will receive in the offering.
  • Being real: This doesn't mean grey hair, just more real people in advertising. Use a real soccer mom — or grandmother — in ads. Use a real couple who travel the way real couples travel, not uberluxury travelers toasting with champagne.

Boomers want to enjoy life experiences as they retire, and often they're fully funded by the time they approach retirement. Marketers need to move away from the sex appeal end of the spectrum and change the headlines to make it centered around the value, especially the experience.

 

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