Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Misunderstanding Boomers Is News

Today's includes a story called "The Misunderstood Generation" about new research conducted by Edelman on Boomers.

The main learning appears to be something we've talked about -- being a "Boomer" doesn't make someone part of a affinity group, with similar likes and dislikes. It's simply a label used by demographers for those people born between 1946 and 1964. It includes some 78 million people, or one out of three adults in this country.

We use the term "Boomers" to get marketers to pay attention to this group, now that half of their members have crossed the AARP Line -- age 50. For the last 40 years, marketers ignored anyone over 50. With Boomers that age and older, marketers aren't sure what to do. Part of it is driven by the problem that Boomers themselves don't know what life after 50 is going to be like.

The Edelman research supports that, and apparently offers some insights about where to go from here.

Any marketer who thinks that group can be lumped into a single segment must not be that smart to begin with. Edelman's study, according to the article, identifies different segments within the Boomer cohort, including one that isn't wealthy, ready for retirement or very brand loyal. Our sense from the story is that Edelman , not surprisingly, are not interested in that group, which is about half of the 78 million. Instead, they want to focus on the

"...influential "bull's-eye Boomers," a term Edelman coined to describe Boomers whose opinions are well-respected and often solicited. The study showed that bull's-eye Boomers are typically wealthy, highly educated empty-nesters who are actively engaged socially, tuned-in politically and heavily involved in their community. Acting on research that indicates Boomers listen to other Boomers, Edelman believes bull's-eye Boomers carry a lot of influence."
Those of us who have been in marketing and advertising for a while will recognize that this approach is about focusing on the influentials, creating brand evangelists and relying on word-of-mouth to build brand preference.

The difference is that there isn't any talk of "age" of the "bull's-eye Boomer," because age doesn't matter when targeting Boomers (life stage, life style and other things are much more important than chronological age).

To be honest, other than our own work over the last five years, this is one of the first reports of other work being done in the marketplace to help marketers get a sense of what to do with Boomers.

Let's hope some marketers heed the advice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A related take that suggests there is sales power in dropping the notion that "boomer" is a generic population, even though "boomer" as a term is.

Valuable Insights into the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today's Baby Boomers

This blog is by the authors of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America's Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group, on sale now.

Here is where you'll find information referenced in the book, as well as updates, news and perspectives from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of the Boomer Project.