Baby Boomers, the generation born from the years 1946 up until the end of 1964, are the single largest consumer group in America. They’re the wealthiest, best-educated generation and are also largely ignored by consumer marketers. For you, the marketer, figuring out how to reach these Boomers is a great task. To do this in your marketing and sales approach, you have to use both empathy and honesty to create trust between you and the Baby Boomer generation. For instance, look at ads that deal with the delicate problems many Baby Boomers develop that come with aging. An ad of this sort openly and honestly expresses the aspects of the particular problem and then gives a solution. At the same time the ad treats Baby Boomers with respect and compassion.
An ad should also appeal to the Boomer’s emotions and memories. Examples of this kind of commercial are arthritis advertisements on television. Though they often deal with even more senior age groups, they are typically effective advertising. The pain of arthritis is expressed, with emotion, in the beginning of the commercial, followed by understanding about the pain and the longing of the afflicted to be healthy again. At the end of such commercials, the person is happy and shown doing the things enjoyed before the arthritis pain began. The advertisement uses both respect and compassion to reach its intended audience.
Understanding Baby Boomers
The first commandment in customer relations is “Know Your Customer.” With the generation born from around the end of World War II until basically the Beatles’ complete conquest of America, you need to understand a few things about this group. The 50-year-old Baby Boomer is not a twenty-five-year older version of his or her younger self. 50 year olds buy more to please themselves and not to please other people. At the same time while Boomers lives are more individualistic, they also avoid the extremes of youth. They spend less on frills and more on home expenses.
Baby Boomers believe that they belong to a market segment of one. Mass appeal ads simply don’t work for them. Also idealized Identity is the biggest single factor in Boomer customer behavior. Also, Boomers buy according to the relationship they have with a company, showing great loyalty. This means that Boomers will respond favorably if they are seen as people, not merely as prospects for products or services. This is not as simplistic as it sounds. Young shoppers show much less loyalty regardless of how well they are treated by sellers.
Getting Boomers to Buy
Success in today’s buyers’ market demands changes in your marketing mindset. You need to shift from a product-centric mindset to a customer-centric mind set. Boomers should be targeted with marketing that focuses not on the product, but on the whole shopping experience. Your ads also need to reinforce the Boomer’s sense of self-reliance. They are more concerned with comfort than style, and they are struggling to save for retirement. Still they don’t want to be viewed as “elders” of society. Boomers are immediately turned off by products associated with infirmity, old age and decline; so if you sell products in this genre, these are factors you need to overcome with empathy and honesty. Never be so honest that you call an older customer "old," as this is a sales killer.
What Doesn’t Work
Boomer purchasing is a driving force in the market place. Boomers are also institutional buyers. Therefore, Boomers want more information about new products and how they work than younger consumers do. They are more resistant to absolute propositions, so don’t oversell with gimmicks. Information presented with a matter of fact narrative style as opposed to the glitzy, fast moving commercials used for the younger generation is more suitable for the Boomer. If an ad, TV or radio spot, website or sales presentation doesn’t connect with a Boomer’s sense of idealized self though, the product will be ignored.
Matching your mindset with the Boomer’s mindset is your key to effective communication and increased sales. Your need is to sell yourself to this generation, then your product. Help the Boomers reach their goals from their purchases with great customer service. This will gain you sales and the Baby Boomers’ fantastic loyalty.
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