Workers Want To Update Their Technological Skills

If marketers and advertisers of technology products are really serious about capturing the Baby Boomer’s wallet, they need to stop thinking we all look and act alike.

Not every Boomer (born from 1946-1964) is retired, has gray hair, is overweight, or is technologically inept.

Just as anti-aging products target Boomers who want to look younger, productivity technology needs to target Boomers who are still employed with younger people.

Boomers in the workplace

Boomers who work want mobile technology devices and applications. They need productivity apps, coordinating calendars, and excel spreadsheets just like their younger colleagues.

So why aren’t marketers targeting this group? I suspect it’s because the majority of Boomers aren’t “early adopters” of these apps and devices. But by ignoring Boomers in their marketing efforts, they are missing out on a large number of potential customers who will purchase premium upgrades. By 2015, Boomers will control 70% of the nation’s disposable income.

Every workplace app I use has been suggested to me by a Millennial. Thankfully, these Millennials are my son and daughter-in-law, who have been patient enough to explain these “non-intuitive to Boomers” apps. But what about Boomers who don’t have tech-savvy kids? Who helps them?

Companies like Apple recognize the Boomer’s value to technology, which is why their in-store courses (including the personalized, pay-by-use ones) are so popular with the 50+ audience.

A realtor friend told me she paid $100 for a couple of spreadsheet courses at Apple so she wouldn’t have to ask her younger colleagues how to use them. Boomers in the workplace know it’s important to look, sound, and act younger than they are to be relevant with Millennials and Gen Xers.

They are part of a generation that led the way into new arenas, and they still own that self-image.

In my Midwestern city, a Lexus dealer is separating himself from other luxury car dealers by offering free technology classes one afternoon a week. Baby Boomers fill the area equipped with their smartphones and tablets, hoping to learn how to get the most out of their car’s digital devices.
“I want to learn to do conference calls through my car so I can do them on my drive to my weekend getaways,” one 60-something man said. 

When the class concluded, Boomers were exchanging productivity apps with one another. Overheard was the explanation, “You can buy a version instead of using the free one so you don’t have to see advertising.”

According to The New Retirement Survey conducted by Merrill Lynch, 76% of Baby Boomers intend to keep working and earning after they “retire” from their first career around age 64, and launch into an entirely new job or career. In fact, the study noted that only 17 % of Boomers said they didn’t want to work for pay again.

Recently, Jane Pauley, the beloved Boomer journalist, released a best seller, Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, examining her second act and the encore careers of other 50+ people. The interviewees were exhilarated by their new lives.

How to Talk to this Boomer segment

  • We don’t think of ourselves as seniors, and neither should marketers. We work side by side with 20-to-40 year olds, and we don’t want to look that different. Brochures should show photos of 50+ adults mingling with 30 and 40 year olds. There are real Boomer men and women who have dyed hair.
  • Speak to us when marketing technology products
  • Explain how your product will help us simplify our lives. 
    • For example, tell us how using Dropbox can alleviate the need to back up our computers — and for just $100 per year get so much extra storage space that we can save all of our family photos and videos, too.
  • Advertise to us in business publications
  • Offer live help desks or training sessions for a fee

Boomers in the workplace need a little extra help. We used technology in college, but the rapid pace of digital has grown quicker than we’ve been able to absorb it all. But we still want it, and we can pay for it, too.

Recommend (5)
5 comments about "Workers Want To Update Their Technological Skills".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , March 12, 2014 at 7:20 p.m.
    Excellent.
  2. Kelly&Sally Jackson from The Midlife Gals , March 13, 2014 at 6:03 p.m.
    For The Midlife Gals, keeping up with technology has proven both important...and hilarious. Here we are...just trying to figure things out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PweCu6GmlbU
  3. Jacqueline Gikow from Audacious-Aging , March 13, 2014 at 9:09 p.m.
    I've been an early adopter of technology as long as I can remember. As a retired baby boomer, I resent being told that I am behind the times. One of my earliest jobs was as a programmer working on mainframes. I've also had a personal computer as long as Macs have been around. My friends have always come to me for help. I am not a geek or nerd, but I am computer savvy. I enjoyed this article, even though I am not in need of rudimentary information.
  4. Suzie Mitchell from Clear Writing Solutions , March 17, 2014 at 8:28 a.m.
    Jacqueline it is always great to hear from an early adopter. I share your frustration, which is why I think it's so important for marketers to hear our voices. Thanks for your comments
  5. susan palmer from jizz , March 22, 2014 at 10:52 a.m.
    Some older workers, especially those who worked for one company for many years, may think of training as an employer's responsibility. I see in older workers, sometimes, an attitude of, 'I didn't need to know that before, and this is who I am,. Lumira