Make It Experiential

The 18-to-49 age group has been the Holy Grail since the 1950s. Today, the baby boomer generation makes up about one-third of the U.S. population but it controls three-fourths of the wealth. It wields $2 trillion in annual buying power. Nevertheless, frustration is mounting because the $275 billion ad industry still gears only 10% of ads toward 50-plus customers.

So How Do You Connect?

Marketing communications should be easy to read and be experiential in nature. They should reflect and understand the values of this demo and positioned as a gateway to desired experiences. Values and motivators for this group include:

  • Autonomy and self sufficiency (independence/participation)
  • Social connectedness (relationships/friendships)
  • Altruism (opportunity to share wisdom and ability to do for others: family, community and country)
  • Personal growth (gain knowledge)
  • Revitalization (need to rejuvenate)



The more ads and sales approaches that reflect the product or service is in harmony with these values and motivators the higher the success rate.

Aging-related changes like reduced vision need also be considered. For example, as we age, we need more light to see, pastel colors become distorted and blend to dark, etc. Large font, serif type, vivid colors, etc. are recommended.

We See What We Want To See

There is also evidence that communications that take a "less is more" approach to this demo are more effective. Presenting your company or product in a manner that is more suggestive than descriptive allows the target demo to subjectively interpret the message based upon his/her needs, values and motivators.

Most marketing and sales center on customers' objective identities (demographic and psychographic) and research shows that a product's message succeeds when it connects with a customer's subjective identity (allowing for individual interpretation). Brilliant messages and sales presentations not connecting with the subjective mind are usually unproductive.

Stories Work Well

Another good communication tactic is the greater use of story-telling techniques. Stories are generally quicker to arouse emotions than straightforward propositions about a product's features. Think Hallmark cards. They surpass most in using stories to present its products.

Today's customer universe is age-weighted toward midlife values. Resistance to emotionally neutral information (mainly processed in the left hemisphere of the brain) increases in midlife. Receptivity to emotionally enriched information -- such as stories -- increases in midlife. Storytelling has become an important part of market strategy. Whoever tells the best story and tells it best will most likely win.

7 comments about "Make It Experiential".
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  1. len stein, January 18, 2010 at 12:45 p.m.

    RIght on! Stories lock into the power of internalized symbolism and personal myth. When marketers can weave a story web, consumers will find themselves happily engaged.

  2. Barry Dennis from netweb/Omni, January 18, 2010 at 12:52 p.m.

    As a previous Publisher of Mature publications and as a Strategy Consultant I offer that addressing the 50+ marketplace, particularly the current 50-65 "Boomers" (they don't like that term)- Lifestyles is better, Matures OK- really requires recognizing and directing Marketing at needs and desires, features and benefits that are not tied to the Age or Health status.
    Doing otherwise alienates the potential customer.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 18, 2010 at 1:57 p.m.

    #1 - programming needs a fix even before advertising and marketing. We programming that leave the kiddy stuff of finding oneself in the early 20's goop and stave off the goopy family stuff. No wonder the CSI's, L&O's and NCIS is so appealing. It cuts through. #2 - so you think your 80 year old granny doesn't wear jeans? buy food? use cell phones? Don't target, don't tell, don't get.

  4. Bruce Christensen from PartyWeDo, January 18, 2010 at 2:16 p.m.

    My grown daughter's and daughter-in-law's write blog stories of their lives raising children and making a marriage work. This story-telling brings back memories from the past and strike an emotional cord with our generation.

    Those marketers who can link past memories with future opportunity will reach our (56) age group.
    I wrote how my age-group uses the new internet tools on my own blog the other day...

  5. Arthur Koff from, January 18, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.

    I founded in 2003 as a job and information resources for Americans 50+.

    Each day I use Google Analytics to check traffic to the site in general and to specific areas within the site. I have found that the areas that provide information on getting a job and starting one's own business are getting the most traffic.

    Because of the devaluation in people's homes and the hit most have taken in their retirement savings many are finding they must find additional sources of income in order to maintain the lifestyle they had planned for their 60's 70's and beyond.

  6. Barb Geldersma, January 20, 2010 at 12:40 p.m.

    and PLEASE don't try to connect using peace symbols, VW vans, and tie-dyed clothes. We're so over that phase of life. Besides, "mid-century" has been taken over by designers and 30 somethings who just don't get it!

  7. Christina Gregoire from my laptop, January 30, 2010 at 9:47 p.m.

    I'm a Boomer and I have no desire to be called either "senior" or "mature". I'm not sure about the story angle, but it's probably better than nothing. I'm a web-content writer... just started in 2009... but I am having a horrid time pegging what to call women over 50. Whenever I've tried to use "mature" as part of an seo keyword, it gets goggled by google as x-rated. I'm not a big fan of "lifestyle" either. I would rather be called a Boomer than a mature anything.

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