Boomer In Aisle Two

Consumer packaged goods companies often have major blind spots in the way they target Baby Boomers.
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With a continued emphasis on either the 18-to-34 or the 18-to-49 demographic, companies are increasingly losing their connection with the 78 million Baby Boomers, Doug Anderson, SVP/research & development for Nielsen, tells Marketing Daily.

“There is practically no segment or category out there where Boomers aren’t a significant audience — even across technology, including cell phones and computers. They may not be the first ones in the door when a new product comes out, but it’s close,” he says. “They are purchasing at rates just as high as other segments, and because they are often buying for their kids, many are double-dipping.”
“Marketers have this tendency to think the Baby Boom — getting closer to retirement — will just be calm and peaceful as they move ahead, and that’s not true. Everything we see with our behavioral data says these people are going to be active consumers for much longer. They are going to be in better health, and despite the ugliness around the retirement stuff now, they are still going to be more affluent,” Anderson says. “They are going to be an important segment for a long time.”

Interestingly, author, speaker, creative director and marketing consultant, Brent Green, writing on his blog “Boomers” says:

Demographers have understood and anticipated the aging of western countries for at least 30 years, once it became clear that a baby bust followed a baby boom. Perhaps anthropologists have not paid enough attention to the commercial implications of Boomer aging, but, for at least 20 years, a few farsighted marketers have been writing and speaking about the economic necessity and material value of focusing on the 50+ consumer.
With Nielsen and NBC stepping into the fray — and Advertising Age taking notice (or paying homage, whichever you prefer) — the volume does get louder. But these two organizations are hardly thought leaders or marketing innovators. They’ve simply brought their clout and budgets to a lively conversation that’s been going on for years — a conversation that’s been accurate in aggregate and way ahead of mainstream marketing and media consensus.

I’ve worked on a lot of consumer packaged goods and it’s always been about “getting ‘them’ in the franchise early.” The thought being–especially in beer circles–that you make a consumer for life. That people are creatures of habit, and they don’t just casually change from one beer brand to another.
Considering Anderson’s point about Boomers being “active consumers,” I have to think they’re prepared to actively choose one brand over another, based not just on their own buying history, but on newly created perceptions resulting from product innovation and advertising.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Brand builder at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Believer in Gossage, Bernbach and Clow. Doer of the things written about herein.