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Baby Boomer Men: Fashion, Function, or Choice
6 years, 1 month, 5 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes

Nostalgia or No-stalgia?
6 years, 1 month, 2 weeks, 4 days, 22 hours, 16 minutes

Baby Boomer Men: Fashion, Function, or Choice

boomer_man_in_suitOne 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?

JFK_newspapersCleaning 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,