GenSights - Making Boomer Magic
Sharing generational insights to help businesses make magic with Baby Boomers
Senior Living Facilities That “Get It”
As we continued to explore the New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO 2011, we talked to representatives from a couple of extended living communities that seem to be on track in keeping Baby Boomers in mind when promoting their facilities.
Pat Seidel from River Bay Club in Quincy, a Brookdale Living facility, shared with us how Connected Living allows their residents to communicate with family members on a regular basis. With a secure private social media online community combined with a little one-on-one training from the ambassadors, residents can remain relevant by using today’s technology. River Bay is in the process of adding a Skype component which will allow family members to be a part of their loved ones’ lives whether they’re down the street or across the country. Then Amy Amoroso let us know how the Innovative Senior Care division evaluates residents to be proactive in promoting and maintaining wellness in their residents and in the community.
We also talked with Barbara Marshall and Frank Quintiliani of Benchmark Senior Living’s Chestnut Park facility. They use Connected Living in their facility as well. Smart move. They also gave us a sample of some signature spices, Savory Sensation Salt Substitute, their culinary team has developed to keep things flavorful yet healthy. Something that’s important to the aging boomer population as well.
Both facilities offer options for a continuum of care, making life easier for both residents and their families. Fewer moves and disruptions makes for a better quality of life for all.
With the Baby Boomers being the influencers in their parents care, both of these facilities exhibit dedication in staying on the forefront of extended living to continue to attract residents to their facilities by:
– Incorporating useful technology to help their residents remain vital and relevant while making it easy for their children and grandchildren to stay engaged with their loved ones.
– Satisfying the sophisticated taste palette of the Boomer and Senior audience while providing healthy nutrition at the same time
– Anticipating changes in life stage, and providing options to address them
Since they are demonstrating the ability to stay on the forefront of care, the evolution will continue as the numbers of the aging population increases. Good to know they “get it”!
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Senior Living, Baby Boomers, parent care, technology, extended living
A Perfect “Fit” For Boomers
Not all bathtubs are created equal and that is especially true when it comes to Bath Fitter®. In our quest to find exhibitors that "get it" when marketing to Baby Boomers at the New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO 2011, Bath Fitter proved to fit our criteria. It's clear to us that Bath Fitter determined Boomers are a key target audience for their product line of acrylic bathtubs, bathtub walls, shower liners, and other bathroom remodeling products. This is quite evident by their thoughtful design of options that meet the needs of aging Boomers, their parents, or anyone needing ease of access when it comes to bathing and showering.
Bath remodeling can be a daunting task for anyone, but for those looking for a less invasive approach, Bath Fitter seems to be a viable option. After spending time inspecting their displays of simple but stylish tubs and showers, and speaking with the sales representative for the local franchise, it was apparent to Laura and I that Bath Fitter has a non-condescending yet informative approach that allows the Boomer to come to their own conclusions. And it was interesting to hear though many Boomers start out with a tub renovation in mind, most often the product selected for “aging in place” is the easy access shower.
If we were marketing "professors" we would give Bath Fitter an A+ for hitting the basic “Four ‘P’s” when targeting the Baby Boomer audience:
– Product - they've created a line to suit Boomers' needs and various life stages
– Place - they are displaying in a place to reach this audience
– Price - providing good quality and value for the cost
– Promotion - their sales approach, website and printed materials are clear, informative and depict Boomers in a positive light
Go to the head of the class Bath Fitter!
– Written by Tom Gorski
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Baby Boomers, "aging in place", bathroom remodeling
ShelfGenie – they get it!
It’s refreshing to discover that there are manufacturers and service providers that “get it” when it comes to marketing to Baby Boomers and that is exactly what we discovered as we explored Boston's New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO 2011. One company that stood out was Shelf Genie® based out of Marietta, GA and represented by franchise owners Jeffrey Cohen & Raffi Iskenderian of Concord Massachusetts. ShelfGenie’s line of Glide-Out™ shelving solutions is an answer for Boomers requiring low stress, easy access for their belongings in the kitchen, pantry or bathroom. What makes ShelfGenie so special and different is that the shelves are designed and built, then installed into your existing cabinets.
Laura's favorite was the pull-down rack that makes those hard-to-reach items on high shelves accessible without using a step stool (which she says is one of her most-used items in the kitchen).
So how does ShelfGenie “get it” when it comes to marketing to Boomers? It’s quite simple, they have done the following:
– Created a product that's smartly designed to be helpful and useful everyday
– Identified the Boomer audience as a key demographic
– Tastefully portrayed Boomers in their promotional materials
Although ShelfGenie is ideal for any home looking to organize, we're happy to see that they realize there is an enormous opportunity with Baby Boomers who want to update their home or help aging parents stay independent longer, and they do it in a stylish, inviting way. Kudos to ShelfGenie!
Written by Tom Gorski
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Marketing to Baby Boomers, ShelfGenie
Reporting from The New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO 2011
The New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO 2011, presented by Williston Publishing of Vermont, took place the weekend of October 29th and 30th, 2011 at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston. Whether attendees were looking for ways to get a better night’s sleep, products to make everyday tasks easier, travel fun or options for senior living, the event provided lots of ideas, information, and inspiration for everyone. The attendees who made it through the unusually early winter nor’easter, found a combination of exhibitors, informational workshops and entertainment. Even though Boomers and seniors span more than 50 years in age, lifestages, and lifestyles, Williston Publishing more than met the challenges of targeting such a diverse group by bringing a wide range of experts together.
In speaking with some of the exhibitors and presenters, it was clear to us they were passionate about the solutions they were offering to Boomers and seniors. We were impressed with Jeff and Elizabeth from ShelfGenie, who showed us how adding pullouts to existing cabinets in a kitchen or bath could make much better use of the space as well as putting everything within reach, with a gentle tug of a drawer. Nora from Bathfitters showed us how economical it can be to upgrade a bathroom and the wide variety of styles and features that can make life easier and safer. Pat from River Bay Club in Quincy, a Brookdale Living property was excited to share how their facility uses technology to help their residents stay connected with family members. And Benchmark properties gave us a sample of their chef’s spice blends, that not only make food taste good, but can contribute to brain health. Alaina at AmRamp demonstrated how their convenient modular ramps give freedom to people with physical limitations, whether short or long term. I was happy to share that a close friend raved about how their product made a difference in her Dad’s life when he was recuperating from an accident.
The Boston Ballet and Boston Symphony added a cultural flair to the event, providing information, as well as performances and experiential workshops. Blue Cross Blue Shield and AAA, provided interactive demonstrations and presentations. If travel is your thing, you could connect with Collette Tours, the Manhattan Club, China Tours and others. Even business owners had the opportunity to learn something. Shelly Berman-Rubera of SBR-Small Business Results gave a presentation called 6 Steps to Small Business Results, that was so informative, even we got some tips on growing our business! And though we didn’t have the chance to attend, we heard that the concert by David Cassidy of Partridge Family fame, had fans rocking the house!
We don’t have the enough space here to mention something about every one of the over 140 exhibitors and presenters that took part in this event. (We'll be featuring some of them in upcoming posts as businesses that "get it" in understanding the Boomer Market.) The folks at Williston are committed to making it an even better EXPO next year and hope that Mother Nature will cooperate!
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Baby Boomers, Boomers & Seniors, lifestages, Boomer lifestyles, expo
A New Meaning for Aging in Place?
The other day, Patrick Roden, creator of agininginplace.com, re-tweeted a link to a previous blog post of his that resonated with me as much on re-reading, as it did the first time I saw it. Called “The Meaning of Objects”, it had me pondering how much of the desire to “age in place” is about the actual place, the home, if you will—and how much is about not wanting to leave the objects—and the memories and stories they hold—that give that place its meaning.
Roden told of a study that asked respondents: “Is there one personal possession you value above all others?” He reported that more than 4 of every 5 respondents were readily able to identify such an object. (Interestingly, men were more likely to identify a consumer item, while women preferred more emotional items like photographs and jewelry.)
But to me, the sobering fact is that when the researchers talked to adults over the age of 75, 30% could identify no cherished object, as compared to only 8% of the younger respondents. As Roden recounts: “Upon further investigation, the researchers learned that this was because many of the older participants lived in nursing homes and a lack of cherished things was associated with the absence of one’s own home.”
According to Roden, the findings for the researchers proved that institutional care often means moving into a place bereft of meaningful things that surround one at home. As he poignantly recalls “from the glass roses I presented to my friend in the nursing home lasting 2 weeks before being knocked off the window-ledge (broken by a nurse-aide); to the antique Santa that I had to identify as hers by labeling it with black marking pen (nursing home necessity), meaningful things can lose meaning in institutions.”
As I write this, I look up and see a number of my own dear mementoes: my great-grandmother’s antique clock, which stood on the fireplace mantle in my childhood home, an oil painting done by my mother, the nutcracker I brought my father from Germany, and I wonder: how can institutions evolve to provide greater personalization and offer deeper emotional connections, comfort, and meaningfulness to residents? Seems to me there’s a winning business model for the senior living center or nursing home that can accomplish that—and it could add a whole new meaning to the term, aging in place.
– written by Lynn Schweikart
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Aging in Place, Senior living center, nursing home
Using an Ending to Inspire New Beginnings: Helping Boomers Face Some Difficult Subjects
I didn't anticipate that my uncle’s unexpected passing would inspire a blog article. But the truth is, many Baby Boomers are facing the same reality that I am: an era is ending. Our parents’ generation—many of whom are now in their mid- to late- 80's, 90's, or older—is passing on, despite the fact that these days, people are living longer.
Some remain healthy and independent up to the end; others require lots of care. Thankfully my uncle was in the former category. Sure, his health wasn’t perfect, but he remained extremely independent, living on his own, still feeling that he had "lots to do". All of this made his passing something of a surprise, as well as a sadness.
Because my uncle and aunt had no children of their own, my sister and I were often involved in their care. My uncle was my aunt's primary caregiver as she was the first to become ill; then pass away. As I’ve gone through the process of losing first one, then the other, I’ve had a number of revelations that I hope will be helpful to all those Baby Boomers out there who are facing similar situations. I know, we really don't like to think about this stuff, let alone talk about it. But this really is important.
1) Health care proxies: When my aunt became seriously ill and was near death the first time, (she amazed all of us as she bounced back more than once,) both my aunt and uncle finally drew up their health care proxies. We had no idea what their wishes were, so having these documents to guide us was really a blessing, particularly as my uncle fell ill and we were faced with difficult decisions about his care. No matter how young you are, or feel, it’s a good idea to have one in place. I’m talking about you, Boomers, not just your parents. And while you're at it, discuss organ donation, too.
2) Pre-paid/planned funerals: I am very grateful that my uncle had a pre-paid/pre-planned funeral. As close family members, this responsibility might have otherwise fallen on my sister and me. Because of my uncle’s forethought, the arrangements were pretty much set, aside from a few minor details,
Since Baby Boomers don't like to think about getting old, let alone dying, I'm sure that few of us have made any plans for ourselves or even told other family members what our wishes are. It can be quite a burden, both emotionally and financially for loved ones left behind to have to figure things out in a moment of grief. Perhaps if we think of it as one last gift, we'd be a little more attentive to this matter.
3) Wills/estate planning: Thankfully, my uncle had drawn up a will after my aunt passed. Unfortunately, I’m not as lucky with my own family. Every time I try to bring up the discussion of a will with my husband, he doesn't want to talk about it. With no children of our own, it's even more important to have this taken care of before hand. In my business, I’ve talked to several estate attorneys who are looking for ways to reach out to Baby Boomers and get them to take action. I always suggest that the best way to help Boomers push beyond their denial, is to frame the matter in a positive way, i.e., having an estate plan enables one to make a difference by leaving a legacy.That's a much better motivator than the guilt trip, as Baby Boomers are one of the most philanthropic groups of people on the planet.
4) Experts predict that many Baby Boomers may be inheriting property or assets. According to a MetLife Study the number is estimated to be about $6 Trillion dollars nationwide. Realtors, estate attorneys, financial planners/advisers, and CPA's should take note of this. As most Boomers really haven't thought about this stuff, there’s an opportunity to provide good helpful information and assistance. How should real estate be evaluated? Are there people who can help with cleanouts? With staging and preparing a property to sell? What's the probate process like? What are tax implications of inheritances? What should be done with additional financial assets? Whether it’s for their elders or themselves, Boomers need help with these questions and more, and there are real opportunities out there for businesses that can provide answers.
That said, I’ve decided this this is a good time for me to begin the process of filling out my own "What-If Workbook" a handy tool that a business associate of mine, Gwen Morgan, developed. I’d given one to my uncle a while back, but we haven't found it yet. I remember him telling me he’d been using it to gather everything together. I look forward to finding it, as one more memento of him. But I suspect that since he had so much else in place, we won't really need it.
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Baby Boomers and Inheritances, Baby Boomers and realtors, estate attorneys, financial planners, financial advisers, CPA's
FACEBOOK ROCKS FOR BOOMERS
Regardless of which research you read, it’s apparent that Baby Boomers are making their presence known on Facebook. Whether it’s Deloitte data touting that nearly 47% of Boomers are on Facebook or the NPD Group claiming it’s more like 41%, the bottom line is that Boomers are moving into the world of online social networking. Of course, how we and others will use this technology and all that it has to offer is a question that’s yet to be answered. As Facebook evolves, so will the ways that members will choose to weave it into their social fabric.
I’ve experienced first hand the advantages of being a Facebook member. Like many Boomers, my wife and I were not exactly early adapters. In fact, it was our college-age son who prodded us for nearly a year to sign up. Because he’s not much of a phone conversationalist, he informed us that if we wanted to stay abreast of his life, Facebook was the way. As a result, we became converts, singing the praises of this online community to everyone in our network of friends.
In the beginning, I had some apprehensions about my security, privacy, etc. I decided to approach it the same way I approach the security of my home. I don’t let strangers in the door; I keep the doors locked, keep security lights on at night and have two dogs that bark when something isn’t quite right. After many conversations with my marketing colleagues and those in the know, I realized I could incorporate those same principals into my Facebook account.
I follow the same line of thinking when deciding what I post, and who I make it available to. Since there’s no doubt I’m a product of two parents from the “Silent Generation,” I’m not keen on sharing too much personal information, even with family and friends. So much as in my off-line life, when I share photos from a recent trip or social activity on Facebook, I’m selective about whom I share it with. I think about online privacy this way: do you allow the guests in your home to have free run of all your drawers, photo albums, file cabinets, etc.? Of course not! So use the same approach with Facebook.
On the downside, Facebook has implemented so many features for security that it can be a little confusing for the novice user. I often wonder if there is a method to their madness and the answer is, of course! It’s like disclosures you find on everything you sign, small print in legalise. For participants who want to maintain the highest level of security measures, it requires a bit of due diligence on their part or a very tech savvy friend. Keep in mind that Facebook is notorious for making changes that can jeopardize some or all of your personal security settings. My suggestion is start off with the locks on and as you become comfortable, you can unlock the ones that make sense for you.
So far, I’ve been extremely pleased with the way I’ve chosen to set up my online social life, both personally and professionally. I feel I’m right up there with the 20- and 30- something’s, but have an experience that’s tailored more for me and my lifestyle. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to managing your Facebook account because it’s all about you and how you want to present yourself to your world of family and friends. Social media may not be every Boomer’s cup of tea, but if you’re a social person like I am, it ROCKS!
-posted by Thomas A. Gorski
Labels: Baby Boomers, Facebook, Baby Boomers and Social Networking, Baby Boomers and Facebook
Baby Boomer Men: Fashion, Function, or Choice
One morning last week, while enjoying my 7 AM ritual of drinking coffee and flipping through the Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t help but notice the banner announcing Fashion Week in NYC. Now I literally have no interest in fashion other than when my 17-year-old daughter decides to invite me along on a shopping trip, primarily to pick up the tab. I imagine I’m probably not too different from most of my male Baby Boomer friends, who tend to see clothing as a necessity, while fashion is something women seek out.
If you were to peek into the closets of most Boomer men, you’d probably find an assortment of clothing styles dating back 30 plus years or more. Whether these clothes are worn or not is beside the point; what’s important is that it’s indicative of how the clothing industry has neglected an entire group of men, specifically Boomers. When you take a close look at what my friends wear for business casual, you’d be hard pressed to see a big difference in their wardrobe from 20 years ago. Other than a collar size change or the width of a tie it’s been pretty much the same over my lifetime.
I’ve often wondered why there are so few retail-clothing choices for men over 40. Not that I give shopping too much thought, but at times when there’s a special event or a vacation coming up, and I need to break down and go clothes shopping, I find my choices limited. Like most of my friends, we make the trip to Jos. A Banks for our suits and business wear, to REI for recreational wear, and to Dicks for sporting wear. Sure, there are other like retailers out there at different price points but all in all, the choices are limited and not too enticing.
Not that I would do a lot of clothes shopping even if there were better choices but the point is, I would have a better shopping experience if there were. I hate shopping in department stores such as Macy’s or Kohls; to me, there’re too big and not the least bit interesting. REI and in the Northeast, Eastern Mountain Sports are cool and capture my interest but the selection is strictly adventure wear. Marshalls and TJ Maxx are great if you have the time to rummage through racks but most men don’t have the time and don’t find it too interesting. The remaining retailers, J. Crew and Banana Republic don’t quite fit the more mature male body shape.
So what is a Boomer guy to do? Well my advice is for clothing manufacturers and clothing retailers to wake-up and start listening to this large demographic of men age 40 plus. As is well known, build it and we will come.
This blog post was inspired by an article I read in Seniors Love To Know.
-posted by Thomas A. Gorski
Labels: Baby Boomers, Men, Clothing, Baby Boomer Men's Fashion, Men Over 40, Retail Clothing
Nostalgia or No-stalgia?
Cleaning out my aunt's attic over the last several months has been quite the adventure in nostalgia. I think she saved ALL her clothing through the years, from the about the 40's and 50's on up. Old photos, Sears catalogs from the 60's and 70's, along with boxes of sewing patterns and more. I couldn't help but feel warmly wistful and start reminiscing, especially when I found some of my own things from childhood (that my mother evidently stored up there) including games and toys we used to play with when we visited. Perhaps, though, it was the "memory lane" box that I opened to find a stack of newspapers from the time period when JFK was shot. I was a young child then, but even I still remember a lot about that event.
While I don't think any of us really want to relive those days, according to a recent MediaPost Engage:Boomers article by Lori Bitter of Continuum Crew, "As consumers, Boomers are yearning for brand experiences that help them feel safe, smart and in control again." She goes on to say, "For some, this means more connections, manifested in the growth of social media platforms. Increasingly, older adults are reaching into the past and connecting with old friends, old beaus and lost relatives."
I know personally I find myself on Facebook more and more, connecting with high school classmates and other friends I lost touch with years ago. The online conversations certainly bring back memories and it's like an ongoing class reunion to find out what people are up to these days and sharing life's challenges and triumphs. It can also be a great platform to reach the Baby Boomer audience as the numbers of users in that demographic show dramatic increases. According to numbers released by Pew Research Center in December, the rate of online social networking among older Boomers nearly quadrupled, from 9% to 43% compared to overall use by American adults growing from 35% in 2008 to 61% in 2010.
So does it make sense to use nostalgia when marketing to Baby Boomers? The answer is yes and no. When my colleagues and I were creating the Gen-Sights web site, we decided to incorporate some old photos of ourselves and other nostalgic images, in order to give a sense of a timeline and the events and happenings that shaped our lives and helped make us who we are today.
We also used nostalgic childhood photos of our clients and their mom in a campaign for Senior Equity Financial, a reverse mortgage company. In this case, it seemed appropriate to use this imagery to create a connection with the Senior and older Boomer target audience, as well to demonstrate the ways that core values instilled in the founders of this company at an early age were playing an important role in their business and use that to build trust with potential customers.
I have also been a fan of the Pepsi commercial campaign that came out a few years back, done to the tune of "forever young" by Bob Dylan and Will.i.am, where there is a reflection of various vignettes of life back in the 60's and 70's side by side with the same vignettes today. Definitely gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling of back in the day, yet kept me in the present in a fun way.
So if you are going to use a nostalgic concept or imagery, be sure to do it in a way that makes emotional connection with the Baby Boomer audience, resonates with their core values, perhaps adds a little fun to your marketing, while at the same time, bringing a sense of comfort and safety. A tall order perhaps, but worth it to connect with this highly lucrative audience.
-posted by Laura Willis
Labels: Baby Boomers and Nostalgia, Baby Boomers connecting through Facebook,