Connecting With Boomers On The Move

The challenge: connect with a moving target, nationwide, that spans multiple generations.

This may sound like the beginning of a marketing joke, or the impossible scenario given to graduate students at universities across the nation. This is, however, the challenge facing marketing professionals in the RV resort industry every day.

Catering to the needs of high-end motorcoach owners throughout the United States, RV resorts have been popping up from Key West to Seattle. Despite the decline in traditional real estate markets, the past three years have shown explosive growth in this niche. Resorts such as Bella Terra and Buena Vista on the Gulf Coast to Indigo Bluffs, Hearthside Grove and Traverse Bay in northern Michigan, all face the same challenge: How to develop, launch and sustain a brand with such a nomadic target audience?

For starters, one must appreciate the needs, desires and nuances of the target audience. Sounds easy, right? Well, what if half of your target audience was part of the "Greatest Generation" and the other half is part of the "Baby Boomer" generation -- periods of time that mark dynamic social shifts in our nation?

While current senior citizens are not ignored, I tend to focus on the long-term viability of a resort and pursue the Baby Boomer generation. As the largest buying segment in America, the Boomers represent the generation born between 1946 and 1964.

This puts the earliest Boomers at 62 years old and the youngest at 45. Interestingly enough, by focusing on this group, marketing materials actually connect with individuals in their early 70s, as people tend to feel they look 10 years younger than they actually are.

Within this niche, traditional forms of marketing are difficult to effectively implement. The major restricting factor is the vast geographical area one must cover. This seriously restricts the use of outdoor, daily print, radio, broadcast and even cable television. Mail-forwarding services or friends and family often sort "junk mail," limiting the effectiveness of direct mail pieces. So what's a marketer to do? Turn to the three Ws: www.

  • Boomers use the internet at work and in their daily lives.
  • Trip planning prior to retirement is done online, and this method is likely to continue.
  • The Internet is a place Boomers are comfortable doing business (online banking), communicating (email) and learning about products (blogs/forums/websites).

A study I conducted in late 2008 revealed the following with regard to Internet use by target audiences in this niche industry:

  • 95.3% travel with a computer.

 

  • 91.08% have access to the Internet "all the time" or "at Wi-Fi hotspots."
  • 62.41% use the Internet to plan trips.

Get personal:

  • Don't over-generalize the Boomer.
  • Personalization and customization are important to them.
  • They appreciate service.
  • They tend to be anti-establishment still today, as they were in their youth.
  • Don't underestimate their resilience in tough times. They were part of the race to the moon, survived a long war (Vietnam) and brought about sweeping social change (civil rights).
  • Many plan on working or furthering their education at some level in retirement.
  • Retirement is viewed as a second life, were new hobbies, careers and interests are pursued.

The president and founder of our company started one of the first Internet design companies in the Southeast. During these early days of integrating websites into the marketing mix, he literally had to post signs around the office saying, "Don't forget the Web." This form of marketing was so new that account planners couldn't get their head around how to use it or see the vast potential. For the niche market of RV resort consulting, this couldn't be truer: don't forget the web.

To connect with Boomers, don't forget to "click."

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, see our editorial guidelines first and then contact Nina Lentini.

Tags: demographics
Recommend (13)
7 comments about "Connecting With Boomers On The Move ".
  1. Gray Hammond from Quire , June 1, 2009 at 3:02 p.m.

    We boomers are OLD. Please use a BIGGER FONT for this zine!!

  2. Hugh Simpson from WOW! Presentation , June 1, 2009 at 3:39 p.m.

    Tom, we are a little older than 62 - 63 years YOUNG!

    Looking forward to more of your writings! I plan to use an RV with my new Social Enterprise business - http://www.7thavendevelopment.com.

    Owned a Public REALations consulting biz in Atlanta for over 35 years and now outsourcing all PR to my former girl friend who also has 37 years experience!

    Hugh

  3. Erin Read from Creating Results , June 1, 2009 at 5:31 p.m.

    Tom,

    I'm so very glad you kicked off this newsletter with the key piece of advice: don't generalize!

    Pew Internet's latest memo on online activities of the various generations found that the youngest (Gen Y) and the oldest (GIs, 73+ years) purchased travel online at the same rate. Marketers who rely on stereotypes of older consumers will miss key opportunities.

    That report is a good resource for MediaPost readers becoming interested in this target market. Find it here: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Generations-Online-in-2009.aspx

    The International Mature Marketing Network (www.immn.org) also has some good resources online. IMMN is a global consortium of marketers/marketing agencies devoted to advancing marketing to the 40+ consumer. Their last webinar was on Boomers and blogging.

    [Full disclosure - our agency, Creating Results, is a founding member of IMMN.]

    Thanks again for reminding people that generalizations just won't "click."

    - Erin Read Ruddick
    www.creatingresults.com

  4. Jeff Cole from JJC Communications LLC , June 1, 2009 at 11:35 p.m.

    As a boomer and a marketer, I think this is a great article.

    It has always bothered me that people generalize about us. Someone born in 1946 and facing retirement is going to be very different from someone born in 1964 who is worried about keeping their job. Different experiences, different tastes - you get the picture.

    And to Gary Hammond, we are not that old.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , June 2, 2009 at 8:06 a.m.

    People who like fishing, fish. Advertisers and marketers will need to target by product rather than age -- kinda' will break the more micro back to macro audiences for many campaigns. Excluding the plus 50 in ads or put only grayers in will move the cheese to another chess board.

  6. Thomas Keefe from HIMSS , June 3, 2009 at 8:21 a.m.

    Tom,
    You forgot to mention that we also advanced women's rights in addition to ending a war and advancing civil rights. As a Vietnam veteran who is still engaged in social justice for all issues, I am looking forward to the next battle of securing health care for all.
    Our generation of "baby boomers" has set a great example for the young people of today to show them that activitism really does work.
    BTW, I am looking forward to retiring in about 4 years and the bride of 31 years and I will be spending our time riding the Harley throughout the US and Canada.

  7. Scott Brewitt , June 18, 2009 at 4:25 p.m.

    perfect article - my aunt just sent me an email from her RV while traveling through Jacksonville FLA!