Monday, December 21, 2009

Are Advertisers and Ad Agencies Targeting the Wrong Generation?

Thanks to a new resource — BoomerOpinion — for this great post ...

In a recent blog by Scott McKain titled, "Trapped in Traditional Thought...", McKain points out that a thirty second spot on the number one television show, "NCIS" costs $133,304 while a thirty second spot on "Grey's Anatomy" costs $240,462. Given the fact that "NCIS" has four million more viewers than "Grey's Anatomy", why would the ads cost less for "NCIS"?

This contradiction points to the traditional agency approach and thinking when it comes to what population segments to target. The demographics for "Grey's Anatomy" are younger and the agencies believe that younger viewers will be more easily influenced and become brand loyal over time. McKain points to the fact that his brand choices during his younger years have indeed changed over time. In his younger years, he drove a Chevy and now he drives a BMW, he drank Pepsi and now drinks Diet Coke, he listened to a Sony Walkman and now listens to an iPod, etc.

Matt Thornhill, in his book, Boomer Consumer, states that Baby Boomers are no where near done consuming. They will be buying things marketed to them for the next 20 years. And they represent a very large segment of the population. He also points out that with age comes wisdom and that Boomers are not particularly brand loyal. They are ripe for conversion, if a product appeals to their needs.

So why should the advertisers and ad agencies focus more on Boomers than the younger generations? Let's start with the fact that Baby Boomers spend $2 trillion a year on consumer products and services. That is $400 billion more annually than their younger generation counterparts. Baby Boomers represent one of every three adults in America. Almost 80 million Americans are Boomers!

Boomers like to travel, they buy lots of tech gadgets, they are still buying cars and homes, they are into fitness, and they eat out regularly. Given that a large portion of the Boomers are empty nesters with disposable income, they should be the prime targets of the marketers and advertisers in this country. And even the Boomers who aren't empty nesters, keep their kids clothed, fed and supplied with plenty of music and electronics.

Baby Boomers control 70% of the wealth in America. So why don't the advertisers and ad agencies target them more? It is beyond comprehension. And as a Boomer, believe me when I say, we would really prefer fewer advertisements about erectile dysfunction and bladder issues. Keep in mind, Baby Boomers on average feel like they are 14 years younger than their actual age. Treat them as seniors or older Americans and you won't sell them anything.

Use words like mature or senior in your ad and the Baby Boomers will tune you out in a New York minute. So if you expect to capture their attention, don't try to take them back to the sixties or seventies or use age related content. Most Boomers still believe that they are young and vital. Treat them as such and you will be more successful. Don't over do it, though. If you treat them like twenty or thirty year olds, then you will miss the boat and waste your ad dollars

The characters portraying Boomers in advertisements should be cool, hip, and youthful, not grandpa or grandma. Baby Boomers remain idealistic, eager to embrace change, and believe in self empowerment. Don't expect them to march in lockstep or be influenced or persuaded by traditional approaches. If an ad agency expects keep its clients, it had better begin targeting this segment of the population and use non-traditional, innovative approaches when designing the campaigns.

Finally, when creating the ads, the agency should understand that Boomers are more receptive to the ads that tell a story. Boomers expect the ad to appeal to their generation, so make sure you personalize the pitch to them. When using personalities in an ad, ensure that the Boomers can identify and relate to the personalities. Be sure to include a "what's in it for me" connection. Follow these simple rules, create a compelling ad and you should be able to capture this lucrative market segment.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you targeting Baby Boomers and if so, how successful have you been? If not, why aren't you going after this market?

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven't joined our community,, please consider it. It is free and only takes a minute to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And once enough of you weigh in, we can begin shaping policy in Washington, as well as at the state and local levels.

As always, thanks for participating.

Jan Thomas
The Communication Heretic

Boomer Opinion — the Boomers' Voice in America: Are Advertisers and Ad Agencies Targeting the Wrong Generation?

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