Today’s Baby Boomers are a marketer’s dream come true. But if you want a share of the $3 trillion that this market has as disposable income, slick ads and catchy jingles will only take you so far. To really appeal to this market of over 78 million people, you need to go beyond traditional marketing and consider the Boomers’ real needs. In fact, when you make taking care of Boomers’ needs your top marketing objective, you will not only sell more products and services, but you’ll also build a loyal customer base that helps your company grow.
So what are the Boomers’ real needs? Since many Boomers are in a time of transition (doting parent to empty nester, full-time employee to retiree, etc.) their lives often involve transitioning to a new life stage or cycle. For this group, retirement is now an issue. Health changes are occurring. They’re taking care of aging parents. They require money to fund a new lifestyle or pay for a child’s college education. Grandparenting suddenly becomes a focus. No matter what the situation, many are shifting from an “achievement” mindset to “quality of life” values and concerns.
Some companies are starting to realize how lucrative the Boomer market can be. For example, Ameriprise Financial advertises a Dream Book Guide for people to create their own future. Dove Soap has a “campaign for real beauty” where they feature older models with realistic, everyday body shapes. Such campaigns target two of the many needs that Boomers have: that of transitioning into the “new” retirement, and of connecting and identifying with similar people.
No matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s construction, health care, insurance, banking, media, or any other business or occupation, the best way to market to Boomers is to focus on serving their needs. To help you do so, following are the five C’s of Boomers’ Real Needs.
Belonging to a definable group is very important to Boomers, because they’re often losing an identity in other areas of their life. For example, now that the kids are grown and out of the house, they’re no longer the “soccer mom.” With retirement looming, they’re no longer the “over-achieving executive.” That’s why they want a place where they can connect with others who share their values and beliefs. And while the value of community is important in everyone’s life, if you’re marketing to Boomers, you need to use words and concepts that create a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people. Consider such things as the RV club, the adventure travel group, and the retail store’s “preferred shopper” or “passport savings” club. The more you appeal to the idea of joining a group of active people who share similar interests, the more Boomers will take notice of what you have to offer.
As a marketer, you need to know your audience and speak their words. The same concept applies when marketing to Boomers. Use words and phrases that resonate with them and their needs. Some words/phrases to consider include:
Balance life and work
Create a life of your choice
Face future with confidence
Having Purpose, Meaning, Direction
Not like your parents’ generation
Not too late
Passion, joy, and aliveness
Time for Yourself
For example, if you sell long-term care insurance and your marketing message says, “With this policy you’ll be able to go into a nursing home and not have to pay for it,” you’re not going to attract the Boomer market. Rather, you need to position your product’s marketing message as: “With this policy, you can create the life you want because you’ll have options when it comes to your long-term care needs.”
The Boomer generation is one that’s used to growing and learning. They were influenced by talk radio, Oprah, personal growth topics, and self-development seminars. As such, they have a strong desire to change and evolve—to not be stuck in a box or labeled too old to do something. Therefore, make sure your marketing messages show how Boomers can learn, grow, or better themselves. For example, if you’re in the housing industry, you can advertise a new home community by stating, “Grow with new friends” or “Learn to live the lifestyle of your dreams.” Then, highlight the community amenities (such as adult education programs or neighborhood clubs) that will help them feel active and involved, and that will enable them to better themselves or enhance their well-being.
Boomers need to feel a sense of contribution to a greater cause—a feeling that their life matters to someone or to a group. When we’re in our 20s and 30s, jobs and parenting roles often fill that contribution need. But remember, Boomers are in transition and may be losing some of those roles. So show Boomers how your product or service can help them make a difference. For example, a car company can promote that “when you buy this car you are contributing to the solution for global warming.” Think of the big picture and how your business, product, or service fits in and enables customers to feel like they’re making a difference.
Boomers grew up with the sixties mentality of “Don’t tell me what to do; let me choose.” Today, Boomers respond well to choices, menus, options, samples, etc. They want to create their own packages to meet their needs. They are bursting with new ideas and new ways of looking at old problems, and they won’t settle for being pushed into pre-defined categories or choices. So to get them to choose your product or service, make sure they have plenty of options to define or customize their purchase from you. If you sell vacation packages, let them choose the destinations they’ll visit in the tour. If you sell financial planning, give them a menu of the services they can sign up for. If you offer technology products, allow them to customize the item every step of the way. When you give Boomers choices and a chance to leave their creative mark on your offering, they’ll eagerly become a loyal customer.
Time for a Change
In the sixties, Boomers changed the way people looked at life. In the eighties, they changed the way people looked at work. Today, they’re changing the way companies will look at marketing. No matter what product or service you offer, when you focus on the five C’s of Boomers’ real needs you can reap the rewards of selling to this demographic. Remember, Boomers, like all people, respond better when marketing messages are tailored specifically to them. “Speak” to this $3 trillion market and watch your company’s profits soar.
About the Author:
Since 1972, Karla Freeman has devoted her career as a licensed clinical social worker to raising awareness and developing programs on cutting-edge psychological themes of our time, including personal empowerment, body-centered psychotherapy and creating magic in midlife. She is author of the book “Creating Magic in Midlife,” and is a featured speaker at events around the world. For more information on Karla’s book or speaking, please contact: www.magicofmidlife.com