But be careful what you call them. Euphemisms like "elder," "of a certain age" or "senior" may not go over well. Many may become more than a little upset with being labeled. After all, they aren't simply writing a new chapter of their lives, they're writing a brand new book -- and each book is different.
The Average Consumer Doesn't Exist
Unfortunately, few marketers have figured out how to best target the Boomer and older consumer. While one Boomer might be gearing up to start a business, another might be taking early retirement. Everyone is different. But how deeply do marketers really want to believe that? How many marketers want to deal with consumers under the rule that every one is unique? A conflict exists between the idea of personalizing company/customer relationships, and the desire to put every consumer in some category that allows marketers to predict their behavior.
Marketers Have to Stop Net Fishing and Start Fly Fishing
Behaviorists have discovered that no two people see anything exactly the same way. No view we have of anything can be fully congruent with anyone else's view because, like fingerprints, every brain is unique as are the five senses that connect us to the world outside our minds.
Not only do we each see the physical world at least slightly differently from everyone else, we don't precisely match anyone else in anything we believe. There will always be some aspect of a belief that bears the imprint of our distinct identity. So, at best, we can only achieve an approximate matching of our beliefs with anyone else's.
Boomers and older consumers are more resistant to absolutism. The young mind tends to see things in terms of absolute states or conditions. In contrast, Boomers and older consumers tend to have greater appreciation for the finer definition that nuance and subtlety give to a matter. This bias results from a combination of experience and age-related changes in how the brain processes information. The predisposition of Boomers and older consumers to reject absolutism means that marketing communications intended for them should generally reflect a conditional tone, allowing each reader/viewer to interpret the message based upon their needs and desires. Less is more in these markets.
Putting It Together
Just as Boomers have transformed every other stage of their lives, smart marketers can bet on one ubiquitous theme: Now that the kids are away, the Boomers are going to play. Yet, the key to the Boomer and older consumer's pocketbook is in a better understanding of their minds.
Marketing needs to be adjusted to the facts that no two people perceive anything exactly the same way. At a time when such terms as "permission marketing," "customer relationship management," and "online personalization" are widely bandied about, more serious thought needs be given to the uniqueness of each of us and why we are unique.