Baby Boomers continue to gain momentum as a consumer group while eroding the notion that targeting people age 50+ doesn’t pay off. Increasingly, brands are seeing Boomer marketing efforts deliver meaningful ROI. In a recent survey conducted by the Online Publishers Association, a majority of ad agencies and marketers identified Boomers as a must-reach segment for brand-focused digital campaigns.
Fellow marketers often ask me how they can meaningfully infuse their brand into the broader context of Boomers’ lives so that it becomes known, not just for its core benefits, but also for its impact on a broader and deeper level. My answer: Find a way to clearly tie your brand to the happiness Boomers crave.
A few years ago, the organization that employs me did just that by changing the tagline of its namesake publication, AARP The Magazine, to “Feel great. Save money. Have fun.” At the time, I didn’t get it. I thought it sounded pedestrian. I was wrong.
Boomers highly value the role of happiness in their lives. According to GfK MRI, nearly all Boomers report that enjoying life (90%) and having fun (82%) are extremely important—even more important than faith, wealth, and social responsibility.
According to a recent study on this topic from AARP, happiness hits a low point at age 50, but rises steadily over the next two decades. In fact, people age 70 are 50% more likely than those at age 50 to report being "very happy.” It is during these two decades that marketers have a unique opportunity to build consumer relationships, strengthen brand loyalty and drive sales simply by helping Boomers achieve higher levels of happiness.
To understand likely contributors to happiness, the study asked participants to identify areas of life that are most important and then assess how well they are doing in those areas. Health and relationships emerged as the top two priorities and—along with saving money—are where consumers most need marketers’ help in creating happier lives.
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Nearly all brands have an opportunity to tie themselves to closing the health and relationship gaps. Boomers’ top health fears—including losing mental/brain capacity, and other fears related to mobility and lack of energy—open the door for a wide variety of products and services to help Boomers remove health-related obstacles to a happier life. Think games, adult education, life stage-designed automobiles, foods, medications, supplements, gyms, and any product that boasts an easier-to-read label.
Our study asked people 50+ to identify specific happiness triggers, and many of the top 10—including “kissing and hugging someone you love,” “spending time with family,” “watching your children and grandchildren succeed,”—reflect the importance of all types of relationships. Marketers will benefit from telling Boomers about their brand’s ability to enhance the relationships they so highly value.
Marketers will benefit from developing a multi-pronged happiness strategy, including:
Following are a few standout examples from brands that leveraged a happiness marketing strategy in 2012:
The lesson here is simple. Want to increase ROI? Bring more happiness to Boomers’ lives.