Achieving meaningful success in anything typically requires thoughtful planning and execution, often accompanied by a willingness to take risks where others would play it safe. The winner of this weekend's Super Bowl is not likely to be the team that lacks vision, but instead the one that lays it on the line while relying on its core strengths to rack up points. The same is true of marketers intent on scoring big among Boomer consumers.
There's no magic bullet, but marketers must aim at the Boomer target to successfully hit it. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Those who do so with a thoughtful game plan tailored to Boomer interests and needs have the best chance of distinguishing themselves as MVP brands among Boomers.
Notable risk-takers in the beauty and fashion industry are putting a new--and older--face on beauty. Think 54-year-old Cover Girl Ellen DeGeneres, a partnership first introduced to consumers in 2008. Clearly, it's working. Think Ann Taylor's holiday-timed partnership with 49-year-old Demi Moore. Even Kiehl's wants in on the action, recently launching a Boomer-targeted, anti- aging line. While many marketers fear that directly targeting Boomers will diminish their brand's appeal among younger consumers, these brands are throwing caution to the wind in an effort to get Boomers' attention. And dollars. They're not the only ones.
As more companies strive to connect with Boomers, they will follow brands leading the way for insight on best practices. Let's peek inside the play books of three such brands from the entertainment, automotive and food industries.
Team: Focus Features
Brand: Cold War Spy Film "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Game Plan: Reverse Spill Relying On Boomer Word Of Mouth
With a limited marketing budget, Focus Features needed a unique strategy to compete in the release-heavy, year-end movie market. Believing the movie would hit biggest among Boomers, it selected a small group of screens where its target audience who read John le Carré's best-sellers would catch on, and then relied on Boomer word of mouth to do the heavy lifting. This strategy was in direct contrast to the standard route of most Hollywood epics, that is, gambling on big, fast-revenue returns that could come from distributing the film across thousands of theaters. By walking before it ran, Focus was able to gauge its audience and determine where to add more screens.
Word of mouth from the Boomer crowd seeped to a younger audience, who flocked to the film at night. Focus took its cue and ramped up the theaters in early January, avoiding the annual December blockbuster blitz and had a clear playing field for itself. The film began grossing more money per theater than George Clooney-starring "The Descendants" and even the Tom Cruise blockbuster "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol."
Game Plan: Celebrate Boomer Lives, Give Boomers A Voice
Toyota unveiled its new crossover, Venza, with a distinctly pronounced sociological slant in its advertising. Not only did it avoid the clichés of life after 50, but it took direct aim at the cluelessness of those who continue to embrace outdated stereotypes.
Toyota employed a clever role-switching tact in which Boomer parents have all the fun now that the kids have left the house. Toyota mocked the perception that Boomers have settled into middle age the way previous generations did. In doing so, the brand successfully articulated how the Venza fits into Boomer lives and gave voice to a Boomer generation that still refuses to be pushed aside, age be damned.
Russ Koble, Toyota's advertising and planning manager for trucks, was right on the mark when he told Marketing Daily, "Advertising has moved away from Boomers. You hear that directly from them. 'Who speaks to us? Pharma, and insurance.' Our research folks said Boomers want advertising that talks directly to them in an authentic way."
Toyota clearly knows its audience. J.D. Power and Associates research released in late January revealed that roughly 75% of recent Venza purchases were made by a Boomer+ consumer.
Team: General Mills
Brand: Fiber One
Game Plan: An Edgier, Lighter Look At Aging
"Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert recently declared that the buying power of Boomers will have the biggest impact on food makers and retailers in 2012. Wanting to grab the attention of health-conscious Boomers, General Mills rolled out a brave, humorous digital campaign for its new Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies.
General Mills tapped fond 1970s memories by featuring comedians Cheech and Chong in a series of videos promoting their imaginary epic "Magic Brownie Adventure," all reminiscent of their "Up In Smoke" film classic. The video series, including a "trailer" and "clips." followed the stoner duo driving their magic brownie truck around the country causing mayhem and, of course, plugging Fiber One.
Cheech and Chong, one a Boomer, another slightly older, don't bat an eyelash when they advise viewers: "Now that you're getting older, you need a new kind of magic from your brownie," which, of course, is fiber.
Quoting the esteemed Peter Drucker, "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it is to act with yesterday's logic." Given today's harsh economic realities, along with the fact that more than half of all consumer expenditures are made by Boomer and older consumers, the arguments for targeting only younger consumers no longer make sense. To win Boomer dollars, brands must be savvy enough to rewrite their playbooks to intelligently, creatively and directly speak took Boomers.