Provide Opportunities For Aging Consumers
Baby Boomers have been credited with significant social change during their lives, but lately have been criticized for the burden their size and longevity could place on Social Security, the healthcare system and our general economic welfare.
They’ve become the bad guys despite having so much more to give, and they need marketers’ help.
The World Economic Forum recently criticized the view of the older population as a burden because it undervalues the significant social capital—knowledge, experience, and specific cognitive abilities that improve with age—Boomers and older consumers have acquired over time. They advised that this underutilized capital could go wasted, or, it could be mined to great advantage.
As our nation’s population continues to age, consumers 50+ increasingly own a greater share of our social capital, in the same way that they own the lion’s share of our financial capital.
Marketers can, and should, provide opportunities for aging consumers to spend both forms of capital.
In 2010, PepsiCo launched its Pepsi Refresh Project through which the company awarded millions of dollars in grants to individuals, businesses and non-profits that promoted a new idea that would have a positive impact on their community, state, or the nation. The project was notable for using money specifically budgeted for marketing, not money from the Pepsi Corporate Foundation.
More notable was that PepsiCo allocated funds to specifically target consumers age 50 and over with a print campaign promoting Pepsi Refresh. Winners were decided by public votes, which allowed Boomers to both contribute ideas and play a role in determining which projects would be funded.
The top three actions inspired by the campaign were driving sales and purchase consideration; developing a more positive impression of the Pepsi brand; and driving consumers to the Pepsi web site where they could participate in the Pepsi Refresh project. In other words, Pepsi provided an opportunity for Boomers to spend their social capital toward our nation’s well-being while also promoting their brand.
Our recent research documents a pivotal shift in priorities as people age beyond 50 to ensure that the years that remain are fulfilling and meaningful. People expect more from themselves during this life stage, exhibiting an increased focus on self-improvement and giving back to society. According to GfK MRI, over one-third of adult education students is over age 50, and nearly half of all volunteers are age 50 and over.
Companies such as AT+T, Google, and CVS are stepping up to the plate by participating in one of our newest initiatives, which leverages a social network platform to help experienced workers discover “what’s next” in their professional lives.
The online initiative, described as “one network that has the breadth and depth of participants, contacts, and information [experienced workers] need to succeed in today's challenging and fluid workplace,” helps companies find experienced workers and helps experienced professionals connect to more satisfying careers. The project also provides an opportunity for experienced workers to connect with peers to share advice, experiences, challenges, and dreams for their future.
Boomers want to stay relevant to society as they age, and corporations have a responsibility to provide them with opportunities to do so. Help them start businesses; create learning experiences; provide forums for exchanges of ideas and knowledge; help change our society’s opinion of what it means to be an older American.
Doing so increases corporate bottom lines, improves consumer opinion, and most importantly enhances all of our lives. Everyone benefits.