What Millennial Marketers Get Wrong about Marketing to Boomers

Boomer Media and More: We’ve observed and commented before on the common mistake of marketing to retired baby boomers as if they are all decrepit ninety-year-olds. Somehow ad agencies (and their client brands) seem unable to understand there’s a lot of life left after 65. Or 55. Boomers preparing for or in retirement are treated as if they are ready for assisted living and walkers. Retirement imagery hasn’t caught up with reality.

Boomer Age Range in 2017

Boomers are now age 53-71. They were born post-WW II 1946 through 1964, ending with the Kennedy-era and the arrival of birth control. Yes, 10,000 boomers retire every day. But it’s not like their parent’s or grandparent’s retirement. Improved longevity and health and wealth mean boomers, especially high-income boomers, are living a very different retirement.


Boomer Tech History

Boomers grew up in the jet age. We assumed that new technology was inherently better technology. (Explaining Tang.) Our Greatest Generation parents got us addicted to new technology, buying in rapid succession: black & white TVs, record players, transistor radios, color televisions, and more. We watched men walk on the moon on those televisions. We also witnessed distant wars and political upheaval seemingly first-hand. This new information technology didn’t seem limited to just entertainment. No, it was a necessity.

So, when we were spending our own money we bought every new technology. Even an incomplete list is long: Eight-track tapes, cassette tapes, Dolby Stereo (to control tape hiss), Quadraphonic, Compact Disks. Atari started as a game and morphed into a nascent computer. Sinclair, Commodore, Tandy, IBM, Data General, Compaq, Dell, Apple, and more. Did ever so many spend so much on the upgrade path? That long march up the cellphone evolutionary chain? That was boomers that made the march. Heck, it was boomers that built (or at least engineered) the computers and cell phones.

Boomers can Afford to Buy what Millennials Borrow

I laugh when Millennials think Boomers aren’t just as tech addicted. Okay, our Boomer smartphone apps may reflect our life-stage. Less Uber and Lyft, because, well, we can afford our own damn cars. Most of the Tesla drivers I know are Boomers and not Millennials. Outside the Silicon Valley enclave (and like skewed environs), that’s who can afford a Tesla. In the war of overgeneralizations, Millennials lose out as terrible savers and investors. Millennials have to share to stretch their limited income. Guess who has all the disposable wealth? Yep, boomers. And now, in, or approaching, an active retirement, they have time to spend it and enjoy it. Even in Silicon Valley. It’s the boomers who in 1975 bought those ranch homes. Those same ranch homes that today are million-dollar-plus homes with postage-stamp-sized yards minutes from Google, Apple, and Tesla. Millennial employees are living on Silicon Valley streets in RVs or commuting long distances.

Baby Boomers to Advertisers: Don’t Forget About Us, says NY Times

At least a few in media and more are starting to realize they’re missing the boomer boat. A recent New York Times article suggests smart brands see an opening. Author, Janet Morrissey fairly captures boomers disgust with millennial marketers and millennial self-absorption. (Not that we don’t see the irony. We never trusted anyone over thirty, until we were, ah, over thirty.) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/business/media/baby-boomers-marketing.html


T-Mobile scores with Unlimited55+ Plan

To prove the thesis, the Times highlights T-Mobile USA’s CEO, John Legere, and his video tweet making fun of the competition. https://twitter.com/JohnLegere/status/894531343970729985

T-Mobile is spot-on criticizing competitors’ senior tech as little more than big buttons and old tech. T-Mobile’s pitch worked with us. We recently signed-up for T-Mobile’s over-55 plan complete with a new Samsung S8 and S8+. I can drool over the stunningly bright curved edge screen and exploit voice commands as well as those half my age. Brilliant phones on T-Mobile’s lightning fast 4G LTE network. Such a deal. And they didn’t belittle me when selling to me. What a concept.

Boomers are a generation of rule breakers, tech addicts, and consumers par excellence.

Media and More: Show some respect

Show some respect. If you want to sell technology, don’t ignore boomers. And don’t picture us as one-step from the grave. If it helps, picture us as one step away from the bank.