As focused as marketers are these days on Gen Y's environmental commitment or Gen X's coupon savvy, Nielsen reports that CPG companies have major blind spots in the way they target Baby Boomers.
With a continued emphasis on either the 18-to-34 or the 18-to-49 demographic, companies are increasingly losing their connection with the 78 million Baby Boomers, Doug Anderson, SVP/research & development for Nielsen, tells Marketing Daily.
"There is practically no segment or category out there where Boomers aren't a significant audience -- even across technology, including cell phones and computers. They may not be the first ones in the door when a new product comes out, but it's close," he says. "They are purchasing at rates just as high as other segments, and because they are often buying for their kids, many are double-dipping."
While Boomers spend 38.5% of CPG dollars, Nielsen estimates that only 5% of advertising dollars are currently targeted toward adults 35-64 years old (a slice that includes the latter half of Generation X as well as Boomers).
Part of the issue, he says, is that marketers continue to believe that Boomers are either reluctant to experiment with new technology and brands, or that because they've been loyal to a certain brand for a number of years, they'll stay that way.
Another issue, he says, is that even marketers who do focus on Boomers tend to make errors. Nuance, he says, really matters. "It is certainly true that Baby Boomers are big, important marketplaces for almost all products, and they need to be talked to and marketed to and advertised to directly," he says. "But it has to be in ways they will accept. They are not 27, and they are not 67."
Nielsen's research says Boomers dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories, and watch 9.34 hours of video per day -- more than any other segment. They also comprise a third of all TV viewers, online users, social media users and Twitter users, and are significantly more likely to have broadband Internet.
"Marketers have this tendency to think the Baby Boom -- getting closer to retirement -- will just be calm and peaceful as they move ahead, and that's not true. Everything we see with our behavioral data says these people are going to be active consumers for much longer. They are going to be in better health, and despite the ugliness around the retirement stuff now, they are still going to be more affluent," Anderson says. "They are going to be an important segment for a long time."