Monday, December 6, 2010 - South Shore Senior News

Resolve for 2011: Put your money where the myths aren’t.

Age Stage: Understanding the Changing Lifestyles of Boomers & Seniors

Why do marketers spend big dollars targeting 18 to 49-year olds? Because that’s where the money is.

Only it isn’t. Turns out that’s as much of a myth as the quotation it’s based on, famously but incorrectly, attributed to Willie Sutton in response to the question, “Why do you rob banks?”

In fact, where the money is, is where Baby Boomers—and their elders—are. According to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Boomer Project for USA TODAY, spending by the 116 million U.S. consumers age 50 and older was $2.9 trillion last year—up a whopping 45 percent in the last 10 years. While the significantly larger group of Americans younger than 50 (182 million) spent $3.3 trillion, that was only a 6 percent increase over the same decade. In fact, over 50’s are outspending their children and grandchildren on everything from luxury products to automobiles to technology.

Here are other Boomer myths you should resolve to ignore in 2011:

Myth #1: Boomers are all the same
In fact, Boomers are extremely diverse in terms of behavior, attitudes, ethnicity, and outlook—more so than the generations on either side of them.

When targeting Boomers, forget about age; focus on lifestyle and life stage. Position your business to meet the life events that have an impact on Boomers’ attitudes, goals, and consumer behavior—the birth of a grandchild; a parent’s illness; a child leaving for college; a career change.

MYTH #2: Boomers are set in their ways

Actually, Boomers are open to new products and brands. A Focalyst study showed that 72% are always looking for products that might be better than those they currently use.

In our experience, Boomers want products and services that make life easier, while delivering on quality, reliability, and effectiveness. Strive to make these your core business attributes and you’re in the Boomer sweet spot, no matter what your product category.

MYTH #3: Boomers are married, empty nesters

Truth is, there’s no such thing as a “typical” Boomer household. Research shows that only 25 percent fit the stereotype of married with adult children who have left home. 37 percent still have children under 18 in the home, while singles make up 22 percent of Boomer households. Nearly 25 percent expect a parent or in-law will move in with them.

Keep in mind that Boomers can be making several multi-generational purchase decisions at once, with both older and younger dependents to shop for. In fact, Boomers are frequently the real decision-makers for products/services targeted to their parents—something that businesses targeting seniors should note.

By resolving to look beyond these and other Boomer myths in 2011, you can start positioning your business for success with this valuable audience. Best of all, you can still reach Boomers with traditional advertising media. However, the more emotional, authentic, and informational your message, the better. Whatever you do, don’t imply “old”, “aging”, or “seniors”. That those words are turn-offs for Boomers is no myth!

South Shore Senior News

-posted by Laura Willis

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - As printed in South Shore Senior News

The Perfect Gift: Making It Easier To Give and Receive

Age Stage: Understanding the Changing Lifestyes of Boomers & Seniors

Finding the perfect holiday gift for older friends or family can be a challenge. Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or other special occasions, shoppers all face the same dilemma: what do you give that’s thoughtful and practical, yet says “I love you”, especially for someone who probably already has everything he or she needs? This time of year, as I start thinking about what to give my mother and in-laws, I wish it could be as easy as when my kids were little. Then, all I had to do was go to a toy store and select an age-appropriate gift. Instead, being a holiday hero for the seniors on my list takes time and creativity.

My partners at Gen-Sights and I think some of this is because retailers and service providers have yet to embrace the value of marketing their wares to the older demographic of 65 to 85 and up, despite increasing numbers and spending power. Considering that the first group of 78 million Baby Boomers turns 65 in 2011, we can only hope that this will change. There are products targeted to children, teens, expectant mothers, homeowners, crafters, handymen, etc., yet when it comes to older consumers, if advertising is any guide, it seems there’s nothing out there, short of medical products and devices.

The fact is that there are products and services that would make great gifts for this demographic. All it takes is a little thinking outside the traditional holiday gift box. Here are a few ideas that Laura, Lynn, and I came up with, just to get you thinking:
• A kitchen or hardware store promoting a gift package of assorted gadgets that are ergonomically designed to address the physical limitations of aging hands and fingers.
• A health club offering a gift certificate for some low-impact exercise classes or training sessions that would ease aching joints?
If you’re a retail store, you might package together some electronics to help the family stay connected, particularly during those long winter months when it's difficult to get out. Or put together a gift basket of brain-stimulating games and puzzles.
• Personal chefs or meal service providers could offer a selection of healthy, home-style meals that have been pre-cooked and frozen for easy reheating.
• A home healthcare agency could offer gift certificates for monthly light cleaning services. Homecare providers or facilities could even put a list of common useful items together and send it as a mailing to family members, for that added level of service.

When you start thinking about it, the list of potential gift ideas for seniors is practically endless; you only need to look at what you sell and determine how your products and services can best be bundled and positioned. Look for gift ideas that fill a need that almost any recipient would like, yet might not think to ask for. You’ll be providing a great service for gift-givers – and helping your business at the same time. One thing to keep in mind: just don’t position your gift ideas as Senior Citizen Specials. Great gifts are ageless!

South Shore Senior News


    -posted by Laura Willis

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