Immersion Active’s David Weigelt will be packing his bags and heading out to sunny San Francisco the week of April 26th to attend the 2011 Aging in America Conference. Between visits to Tommy Toys (his favorite Chinese restaurant), you’ll find David presenting on the topic of Engaging Family Caregivers via the Social Web. In addition, David hopes you’ll join him at Mary Furlong’s What’s Next Boomer Summit. Mary’s event is held before and after ASA’s event and is a must attend for anyone looking to doing business in the boomer marketplace. If you’d like to attend and save a few dollars, Mary has been kind enough to extend a 20% discount to Silver Tsunami readers. Just enter the code wnia11. To learn more and register online, visit: http://www.boomersummit.com/ See you there!
by David Weigelt
Since I’m not-yet-50, my friends like to tease me about attending AARP’s Life @ 50+ event. Regardless of what they say, AARP does certain things really well at its annual convention that I look forward to, one of which is their general session on the closing day.
Over the past several years, I’ve been immersed in conversations by the likes of Bill Cosby, Maya Angelou and Michael and Kirk Douglas. What I love is how AARP gives their speakers a topic and then cuts them loose in terms of where the conversation goes. This year I was especially excited for the closing session. It wasn’t because of the headliners, Whoopi Goldberg and Larry (I don’t need little blue pills to procreate at 70) King; it was a panel discussion themed “AARP’s Digital Experience.” Read the rest of this entry »
by David Weigelt
“Switzerland Named Most Competitive Economy, Topping U.S.” This was a headline on the front page of the Wall Street Journal International Edition a few weeks ago. Having recently spent a week in Switzerland, this didn’t surprise me, even in a time when the rest of the world is wrestling with the economy. They have their challenges, but there is an obvious difference in consumer confidence among the Swiss. And why not, with a 4% unemployment rate, a relatively low tax rate and, dare I say it, health care for everyone (without a government option)? They have a lot to be confident about.
It should have come as no surprise that Switzerland, St. Gallen University to be specific, hosted the World Aging and Demographic Forum I attended. This event addressed “important topics related to demographic change and its effect on the labor market and social security, on health issues, on the development of new products and markets, and on changing lifestyles in society.”
It was an enlightening mix of thinkers and doers. There were members of parliament from Canada, Lords from the U.K., ministers of health from Africa, and the United States’ leading economist on demography, David Bloom. As a marketer, I was both humbled and inspired to be among such a group.
I attended sessions with topics such as work and welfare, health, and innovation and markets. As the conference progressed, it became clear to me that I, as “just” a marketer, played a critical role in the mission of this group. Without intelligent and consumer-specific communications strategies, these academics, policy makers, and executives would never realize success.
When the time came for us marketers to speak, I was in the good company of 50-plus marketing icons like Dick Stroud, from 20 plus 30 Consulting, Kevin Lavery, from Millennium, and Florian Kohlbacher, from the German Institute on Japanese. To a packed room, we shared stats on why the mature markets were important and the effect the economy was having on them. But these people didn’t need to know why; they wanted to know how.
- How do we segment the most diverse set of older adults in history?
- How do we connect with them via the Internet and social media?
- How do we cost effectively reach them in large numbers?
As we answered their questions, something dawned on me. As someone who looks to market to boomers and seniors for non-altruistic reasons, I had better help these people meet their goal of advancing the state aging if I ever expect you – the marketer of a product or service that could benefit from the increasing needs and wealth of the mature markets – to do the same.
You see, a culture of ageism still dominates most societies (certainly in the United States, even in places you wouldn’t expect, like Japan). But the zeitgeist is changing. For the first time in history, adults over the age of 40 are the consumer majority. What countries like Singapore, Sweden, and Denmark, (ranked among the top five for Global Competitiveness and also countries with an aging population) know is that (to steal the words of Auguste Comte, the founder of sociology) “demography is destiny.”
We have a responsibility as marketers. As targeting boomers and seniors becomes increasing popular, it is imperative that we don’t screw it up. There are all kinds of stereotypes that surround the elderly. Frankly, some of them are funny (and I’ll be the first to acknowledge the value of being able to laugh at ourselves). However, adults in the second half of life are more than a cheap laugh or a fast buck. There are many layers of wealth (beyond financial) that our country’s mature population possesses – something we need to keep this in mind as we increasingly focus our marketing dollars on them.
In my recent attendance of the “What’s Next: Boomer Business Summit” in Chicago I decided to spend a couple of days at the NCOA/ASA Aging Conference that followed. As this conference is geared more to educating senior care givers, I found myself observing the business of aging from a different perspective.
One of things that struck me was the use of senior volunteers to assist the largely baby boomer-aged attendees in going from session to session. They (the senior volunteers) were unmistakably deputized with over-sized green sashes prompting attendees to “Ask Me”. Ultimately, they were very helpful (to the extent that they were familiar with the contents of the 300-page phone book that was the conference directory).
My most valuable experience of the conference, though, came over lunch on my last day. While waiting to be served my overpriced hamburger I met one of the volunteers — 81 year old, Walter. Walter and I initially bonded in our frustration over the service and quickly found ourselves in an unexpected discussion over, as he put it, “conferences like these”.
I attended the Boomer Summit and Aging Conference in Chicago this week. While much of the information was the same as that presented at every other 50+ marketing event, I was generally impressed with the quality and quantity of speakers. Some of the highlights from the Boomer Business Summit include:
- Brain fitness market is heating up (with Cognifit and Posit Science graciously thanking the makers of Nintendo’s Brain Age for their $20M awareness campaign)
- TV Land is pushing to be the ultimate Boomer network by increasing original content
- Phillips Electronics seems serious about becoming a “health technology” company