Marketing to the Baby Boomer Mood

Talk to any baby boomer and within five minutes the conversation will touch on or turn to money — or lack thereof.  Gallows humor about  your 401k turning to a 201k; kidding about whether the kids will let us move in; worry about Mom or Dad or an elderly loved one and how they are doing financially; and concern and worry about their financial future.

So are marketers reflecting the change in mood or ignoring it?  Seems like the financial services industry does get its not time for the rock ‘n roll 60’s hippie ads (thank goodness).

I like the John Hancock campaign that’s running.  It’s called “Cursor” and has $26 million behind it in TV, print and online advertising. 

“The thinking behind the campaign was to recognize where consumer sentiment is today.  The unstable economy is a source of anxiety for a lot of folks,” said Jim Bacharach, VP advertising at John Hancock, Boston.  “One of the key differences from what we’ve done in the past is that today, more than ever, these conversations take place through electronic media”  

The campaign was launched in April before the financial tsunami hit.  We think it holds up in today’s market.  It’s authentic. It’s simple.  It captures the mood, concerns of today’s baby boomers. What do you think?


The Power of Baby Boomer Women Conversations


Very interesting new research out about the trends of word-of-mouth communications among baby boomer women.  It seems that unlike their younger counterparts (18-39),  word-of-mouth among baby boomer women (43-62) is:

more credible;

more likely to be passed on to others;

more likely to result in seeking additional  nformation; and,

more likely to lead to a sale.

The research on the power of personal recommendations in purchasing decisions is from Prevention magazine and the Keller Fay Group.  They followed women over a year studying 15 purchasing categories.  among the highlights:  68% of boomer women rate what they hear in their conversations as being credible (10 points higher than younger women); 56% are likely to pass along what they hear to others; 39% seek additional information; and, 55% intend to purchase.

“In this era of less trust in our institutions, marketers would be wise to pay attention to the power and influence of boomer women talk,” says Bob Siltz, VP/publisher of Prevention.

Top Beauty Brands baby boomer women talked about: Olay, Dove, Avon, Pantene, Suave, Bath & Body Works, Mary Kay, Crest, L’Oreal and Revlon.

Top 20 brands boomer women are more likely to talk about:

Folgers, Olay, Avon, Walgreens, Pantene, Kraft, Litpon, JC Penney, CVS, Olive Garden, Kohl’s, Red Lobster, Diet Pepsi, Sears, Tylenol, Diet Coke, Applebee’s, Fisher Price, Dove and Kroger.

We know that these conversations are taking place in person and online everyday. As boomer women we know that we look to each other for advice on everything from beauty to caregiving decisions.  It’s exciting to see how action-oriented these conversations are and the potential they have for boomer businesses who know how to enable these conversations among their customers.  We’ll be featuring sessions at the Boomer Summit on how companies are using Web 2.0 tools to engage their customers.

Some Marketers Moving to Lower Cost Digital Tactics


Marketing Adjustments in a Down Economy

With the downturn in the economy, every marketing dollar has to work harder.  Wondering what fellow marketers are doing to adjust to the current economy?  The chart above is the MarketingSherpa chart of the week.  It shows the percentage of marketers who are adding to or subtracting from their budgets (it’s not their total marketing investment).  It’s not specific to boomer market but we suspect many of you are thinking about similar moves.  More online marketing and more marketing to your current list.  Mail, TV and print are taking a hit.  So what’s winning are lower cost mediums where you can track results.  Losing out are some of the more costly, broad market channels, according to the MarketingSherpa survey.

check out their analysis at

What kind of changes are you making in your marketing tactics to reach boomers?  This is one of the issues we are going to be covering at the Summit in March.  If you have a case study you would like to present, let Laura know at

Retail spending trends: more coupons, less eating out

A new consumer spending tracking study gives us some insight into where consumers are making cutbacks in spending.  While the data isn’t specific to baby boomers, we suspect the patterns among boomers would be the same. Escape to video games and the movies seems to be big!

The NPD Consumer Spending Indicator reports that in October, consumers said they were most likely to cut back on dining out (with 57% saying they planned to spend less), followed by apparel at 54% and entertainment at 50%.  The least likely to be affected will be video games at 35%, toys at 39%, movies at 43%, beauty at 44%, and music 44%.

“Consumers are looking to spend less in the places they are able to find alternatives or ‘go without’ for now.” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., “Things like eating out less or at less expensive restaurants or going another season with the coat or sweater you bought last year are examples of where consumer behavior is changing.”   

The monthly survey also asks consumers if they plan to change shopping behavior to save money.  In October, only 35% said they haven’t changed their behavior, a seven point decrease since April.

Spending Behavior
   April October
No Difference 42% 35%
Sales 25% 28%
Coupons 23% 27%

 “Each month one percent of our survey respondents decide to change how they shop, signaling there are lots of opportunities for the more progressive retailer,” said Cohen.

While consumers may intend to change how they shop, for now they are not changing where they shop. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said that current economic conditions will have no impact on where they will shop, compared to 44% in April.

Social Media and Boomer Business


While we all reflect on the historic nature of the election last Tuesday, there’s also a lot of discussion about the way the Obama campaign used social media tools to connect with volunteers and voters. 

 It really is astounding. 

 In the 2004 election, there was no Facebook or YouTube or Twitter.  Emails didn’t have embedded videos.  An Obama administration will likely continue to use these tools –and more–to reach out to citizens.

Read this article in Business Week

And, these tools were not just embraced by younger generations — boomers were e-mailing, texting, twittering, blogging , watching videos and sharing it all with their networks.  It’s a good reminder that business too can use these tools to reach boomer and senior prospects and customers.

At What’s Next 2009, we’ll be talking about new media success stories.  Do you have a story to share?