Is targeting the 18-49 demographic still rational? Are marketers missing out by shifting the focus from baby boomers, instead of capitalizing on their spending drive?
According to Peter Hubbell, author of "The Old Rush: Marketing for Gold in the Age of Aging" and founder/CEO of BoommAgers, an ad agency dedicated to the aging consumer, the answer is an unequivocal yes. His book, a primer for marketers, is about selling brands to a golden demographic: 80 million baby boomers.
Today, boomers purchase 94% of consumer packaged goods and have 70% of the disposable income. No other consumer may ever generate the per-capita value of the baby boomer generation. And by 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65.
While intended as a book on the marketing opportunities inherent in aging, "The Old Rush" draws a parallel with the Gold Rush. The primary lesson? Act quickly. Those who will gain the most will be those who get there first. Marketers wanting to capture the fast-growth potential must abandon misconceptions about marketing and aging. This means overcome a built-in bias about marketing to the boomers.
"The Old Rush," from LID Publishing, offers insights and advices on marketing to the over-50 consumer. Hubbell claims marketers need to up their game; tools and processes used for younger consumers won’t be helpful with aging consumers.
Instead, he proposes a new targeting model called Generation Marketing. Unlike traditional age- and stage-based targeting models the generational model focuses on marketing to consumers’ generational values, which are personal beliefs that are preserved regardless of t age or life stage. These generational values affect behavior and brand choices. Once you understand and tap into them, you’ll be able to make authentic connections between consumers and the brand.
In other words, it’s less about the age and more about the shared experiences, especially those from youth.
A boomer himself, Hubbell provides an example of how some established brands address the 50+ boomers — those born 1946-1964. He praises Budweiser’s balance in appealing to youth (Super Bowl ads) while still speaking to the boomers (“For all you do, this Bud’s for you” campaign).
Conversely, he can’t get over his disappointment with Levi’s new campaign displaying “an off-putting, intertwines young couple that looked like an oversexed pair of jobless vagrants who didn’t have enough money between them to buy a pair of jeans, let alone the two pairs of Levi’s they were wearing.”
"The Old Rush" doesn’t provide many specific tools; it's a great quick-read that helps recognize the opportunities that shouldn’t be missed by marketers. Hubbell’s questioning of the status quo — marketers’ blind dedication to 18-49s — has a pretty sobering effect. But for companies hoping to woo the lucrative boomer audience, it's a helpful inside scoop.