Does my family deserve its own reality TV show for being freakishly vibrant after age 65, or are they simply the "new normal"?
If companies thought we marketing experts were nuts for advising them to target 50 year olds, wait until they hear that 65 year olds should be on their radar. We should be telling them now. Boomers begin turning 65 in less than five months -- 137 days to be exact.
There's plenty of evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to suggest that people 65+ are alive and spending.
According to Yankelovich, Boomers aren't alone in bucking age stereotypes. The desire to work hard to improve oneself, to strive to reach one's full potential and to remain open to new ideas does not wane as people age. Nor -- brand marketers take note -- does the propensity to research a product before making a purchase.
Make no mistake, America's 40 million 65+ consumers are buying. They are responsible for 22% of all new car purchases, they visit restaurants 13 million times a day, and they travel -- to the tune of $26 billion last year.
But these numbers will pale in comparison once Boomers populate the 65+ market. Consider the impact over the next 18 years as all Boomers turn 65:
AARP recently asked its Facebook fans for their perceptions on being marketed to as older consumers. One exasperated respondent speculated that marketing departments "must consist of Generation Xers who are clueless about the needs and wants of older generations."
All relationships suffer without proper attention, and the loyalty that brands believe they established with older consumers years ago (if it ever truly existed) simply can't be counted on when consumers feel ignored and misunderstood.
My stepmother agrees wholeheartedly, "Brand loyalty goes out the window if the consumer feels disregarded and taken for granted," she says. "There's a lot of competition out there these days and, believe me, older people are some of the canniest in researching a product for value and price. After all, they have the time."
If they expect to prosper, companies have an obligation to tell older consumers how their brands and products add value to their lives. And, we have an obligation to provide these companies with the foundational knowledge from which they can develop appropriate products, services and marketing plans that will serve all Boomers -- even those who may soon be characterized as "old."
Tick tock, 137...