Moving Beyond the Coupon: Boomers Need More Than Bargains

November 5, 2010

by Jonathan Boehman

Deal sites. Discount sites. Clearance sites. Coupons, Groupons, and Gray Poupon–oh my.

Groupon's site has spawned a slew of copycatsDon’t get me wrong–deals and coupons can be great. And they’re a hot tactic for us online marketers right now because they lie at the intersection of the consumer’s painful awareness of the poor economy, the explosion of the social graph, and location-based services. But to just implement the tactic blindly–it’s a rookie mistake a lot of companies are making as they seek the holy grail of better user engagement.

These tactics can be a key piece of the puzzle, but they need to be built onto a solid strategic foundation. Read the rest of this entry »


Marketing to Older Adults: More Than a Cheap Laugh and a Fast Buck

November 4, 2009

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.

More advertisers? Not for More Magazine

August 25, 2009

by David Weigelt

“The Readers Are Over 40. (Don’t Tell Advertisers.)” is a New York Times feature that delves into the current struggles of More Magazine, whose average reader is age 51.

Even though More’s newsstand sales are outpacing competitors like O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living, many advertisers won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole – especially luxury brands.

What’s even more contradictory is that More’s 51-year-old average reader makes about $30,000 more per year than the average reader for Vogue, Allure, and Harper’s Bazaar. At a $93,000-per-year average, More’s readers even beat the readers of Esquire ($66,800) and GQ ($75,100).

Read the rest of this entry »

eMarketer: Seniors Didn’t Catch the Wave

July 10, 2009

by David Weigelt

eMarketer released an article today titled “Few Senior Surfers Sighted.” “Not Internet-addicted?” That’s an interesting perspective. I don’t mean to suggest that seniors are “addicted” to using the Internet, but what this article infers is a bit of a stretch. The first element that piqued my interest is that it’s based on research from the Pew Research Center. Just six months ago, Pew published a pretty comprehensive study, titled Generations Online, indicating exactly the opposite of what eMarketer proposes: Seniors are responsible for the “biggest increase in internet use since 2005…While just over one-fourth (26%) of 70 to 75 year olds were online in 2005, 45% of that age group is currently online.”

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Nothing More “To Be Determined” for Boomer Social Network

July 2, 2009

by David Weigelt

During the recent boom of websites geared toward baby boomers, TeeBeeDee was an outlier. But much like Barack Obama early in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, TeeBeeDee embraced its status and ran with it.

TeeBeeDee was founded by Robin Wolander, a former executive vice president of CNET and founder of Parenting magazine. She “had the idea for TeeBeeDee in the best year of my life — when I turned 50. I looked around at my amazing circle of friends and colleagues and thought about how much we learn from each other…And thanks to the Internet, we now have tools that help us learn from each other.”

The money behind TeeBeeDee (~$9 million) was nothing to scoff at. But my feelings on the site, and their recent decision to close their virtual doors, have nothing to do with the money and everything to do with their approach. They got it.

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Learning From Others’ Mistakes – Is That So Wrong?

May 8, 2008

We recently released a new issue of our newsletter, Mature Interaction, aptly titled “5 Social Media Lessons to Learn from Eons.”

In it, we did just that – outlined what marketers can learn about older consumers’ use of social media from Eons change of its age limit from 50 to 13, and the subsequent user reactions they received. Being supporters of Eons from its inception, we also included a summary of things they’ve done well and concluded with recommendations for what they should have done when changing that membership requirement.

After its release, we received a lot of feedback. We were surprised, however, that we caught a bit of flack, from subtly sarcastic to outright offended, for citing their mistakes. Even Eons (and founder Jeff Taylor emailed us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Analyzing the Hype Around Hopper

October 3, 2007

He’s not hitting the road on a Harley, channeling a sociopathic criminal, or threatening Keanu and Sandra with a bomb on a bus. Rather, Dennis Hopper’s encouraging baby boomers to see an Ameriprise financial adviser.

Since it spun off from American Express, Ameriprise has targeted affluent baby boomers, whom they feel are headed into retirement without a solid financial plan. And according to an article from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, Ameriprise launched a new series of ads, accompanied by Web spots, last month featuring the 71-year-old Hopper.

Concluding that Hopper has received “mixed reviews” is a gross understatement.

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