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Tips for Conquering the Boomer Market

Gain insight into Boomers, and turn them from prospects into clients.

By Don Potter

Marketers traditionally allocate big budgets to influencing people under 50, but I would question this strategy. The first wave of the Baby Boomers—the most affluent and influential consumers in history—is over 50. People in the financial planning and insurance industry need to pay attention to older people and change their assumptions about them. Here are some tips on how to target this generation of consumers.

They are better prospects than the 50+ people of the past. The cutting-edge Boomers have money, are willing to spend it and seem to be prepared to consume for years to come. There are more of them in raw numbers—twice as many people as the previous generation—yet they cannot be defined by demographics alone. The real success will be through a targeted marketing approach that addresses their differences and celebrates their lifestyles.

The 50+ Boomers need more nurturing. Turning 50 is a big deal for the youth-obsessed Boomers, even if most treat it as just another birthday. Inside, they are beginning to realize they have reached the time when things will change more quickly, fewer years lie ahead, and their priorities will be different. This self-realization becomes clearer as the years pass. Your marketing needs to reflect an understanding of this phenomenon.

50+ consumers are not necessarily loyal. They certainly have more experience in making buying decisions, so if a company does not appear to understand their perceived needs or assaults them with information that insult their sensitivities or, worse yet, ignores them altogether, chances are there is a switch in the making. Do not take them for granted.

50+ Boomers without children living at home are still an important market. Certainly, you need to continue to appeal to these empty-nesters. After all, you probably have invested too much over the years to risk letting a competitor steal the market away. Boomers have homes and buy appliances, TVs, and cars. They also remodel, redecorate and replace a lot of things. Consider all of this when tailoring a financial plan to the Boomer demographic.

Boomers are estimated to have $5,000 to $10,000 more annually in disposable income to spend once the children leave home.

The 50+ consumers have more disposable income. There really is a life for mom and dad after putting the children through college and this means spending more on themselves. Empty-nesters are estimated to have $5,000 to $10,000 more annually in disposable income to spend once the children leave home. Remember that they are the “me” generation, they will want to make sure they are well protected and provided for until death.

50+ Boomers are helping their parents make decisions. Modern medicine has extended life and, in many instances, has improved the quality of the golden years. Many of the Boomers are, or will be, responsible for their parents’ well-being in the years ahead. They will be key influencers in many decisions including investments, health care, housing, nutrition and final arrangements. While they are dealing with these areas for their parents, they will be gathering information and forming perceptions, which later they will use to make many of the same decisions for themselves.

50+ Boomers are becoming more skeptical as they grow older. Life may not have delivered all that was promised, but they are not ready to give up. They will keep on working because the 50+ Boomers are not content nor resigned to live as their parents’ generation had. They still want it all, but don’t quite know how to get it. Even those who are better off financially seem to have questions. You need to know how to approach this skepticism and provide answers through the appropriate products and services.

Those 50+ can't be lumped into a homogeneous group. As people in past generations grew older, they seemed to become more alike in their preferences. The Boomers are still a diverse group with many different interests and a variety of lifestyles. It is too soon to tell how and when the Boomers will come together, if at all. Will the catalyst be the natural progression of aging, or will some major galvanizing event be the trigger? Only time will tell how this group will behave in the years ahead. This behavior will affect how you will communicate with them.

50+ Boomers offer a chance to make your Internet marketing strategy more effective. Whether the strategy is to bring them to your website, provide them with information, capture their names for future use, or to make an online sale right now; these people can mean the difference between profit and loss. Although many are not as proficient with computers as younger people are, most Boomers learned the fundamentals to survive in the workforce. The interesting aspect of this is that they don’t spend as much time in front of the computer as younger people. Boomers use the computer to help them make more informed decisions and for more convenient communicating. However, you still must use traditional media, in addition to search engines, to drive them to your site.

Excerpted and adapated from The 50+ Boomer: Your Key to 76 Million Consumers. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Donald L. Potter is president and CEO of Potter, Katz, Postal and Ferguson, Inc., an advertising, marketing and media agency in North Hollywood, Calif. He can be contacted at 818-760-8787 x102 or write him at don@pkpf.com.


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