Boomers And The Importance Of Modern-day Nostalgia

As marketers, we have to stop thinking of the estimated 75 million+ baby boomers as a generation that is technologically adverse, especially as it relates to how we speak to them through advertising.

The boomer generation has remained a beacon of cultural evolution and repeatedly referred to as transformational, optimistic and a driving force for change. The American dream was promised to them and they pursued it by bucking the system and rebelling against conventions. So why wouldn’t they continue to embrace change?

After speaking to a handful of boomers, it is clear to me that they think advertisers have, to an extent, ignored them and that messaging has become unnecessarily complex and loud. Similar to Gen X and Millennials, they want to be empowered by media and new technologies but want to see the simplicity of the message versus being told what to do, say, buy. The simplicity is a symbol of the nostalgia they want to be reminded of and a very direct way for marketers to reach them.



Music and family bonding are common themes and distinct tactics that seem to resonate with this group of consumers. They are comfortable with new media but advertising that harkens back to the “Cleaver family” times can create a more meaningful connection with a brand – threading reminders of simpler times can easily come alive through music and tapping into their core beliefs around family. Marketers know this and have used these tactics for years but overlaying the nostalgia with present-day technology can effectively demonstrate that the brand knows them and gets them.

We have seen a rise in the desire for more multi-generational experiences and connections. Our boomers are motivated to adopt media and engage with content that connects them to their adult children. This becomes a two way street of sharing generational differences as well as similarities – this love of sharing from both generations becomes a currency of influence and tees up an opportunity to tap into their core beliefs around family.

It is less about selling nostalgia and more about expanding on the notion of what simplicity stands for. Boomers feel marketers are focused on the younger consumer and therefore cater all advertising to the fast-paced, attention deficient, multi-tasking world that we now live in. This approach does not resonate with the mature generation.

Knowing that they use media to explore interests, activities and personal growth allows us to better understand what motivates them to engage with particular media at specific points in time. This exploration, combined with understanding of media motivations, gives marketers insight into the content they are searching for to remain young and relevant – they appreciate online and offline online behaviors playing complementary roles.

What we need to do now is deliver simplicity while still creating impact and relevancy to reinforce brand/consumer connections. By combining new media technology and learnings from the “Mad Men” era we can eliminate the “loudness” of advertising, especially how it affects this generation. It’s less about current day trends and more about the purity and honesty of the messaging. We need to stop shouting and just be present. We need to celebrate the Baby Boomer’s desire for change and embrace the generational differences to craft a customized communication plan that can effectively speak to this very important generation.

1 comment about "Boomers And The Importance Of Modern-day Nostalgia".
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  1. Jim Gilmartin from Coming of Age, June 29, 2015 at 12:05 p.m.

    Very on point and insightful commentary. Simplicity and offering control are two of the customer experiences that give a product a strong competitive edge. Meeting the expectations of aging customers isn't very difficult. The aging customer loathes artifice. As the author states, Ad agencies are continuing to ignore the aging customer by pumping out advertising that was more suitable in the pre-1990s marketplace. The shift from a product centric mindset to a customer centric mindset dramatically changes how both marketing and customers are viewed:

    ·Customers are no longer targets; they are people to be served.

    ·Marketing is no longer a game of persuasion or hucksterism; it is a  service.

    ·Customers are no longer data sets; they are human beings.

    ·The focus is no longer on products; it is on the customer experience. 

    Making such changes in marketing think requires the power of company and agency leadership. For no change can take place in company mindset to support a customer centric business model without the unequivocal commitment of executive leadership. 

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