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Marketing to Baby Boomers Requires a Different Approach


Small business owners, take note! Marketing to Baby Boomers is a profitable and sizable demographic you don’t want to dismiss.

Your marketing strategies may need to shift, however: according to new data from Nielsen NeuroFocus, this demographic of “mature consumers” requires a different approach when it comes to advertising.

Why should businesses and advertisers even focus on Boomers in the first place?

There are two great reasons: numbers and money.

Eighty million strong, Boomers spend close to 50 percent of all CPG, which is short for consumer packaged goods, or the type of goods that are consumed every day by the average consumer. However, less than 5 percent of advertising is geared towards them, according to Nielsen, a leader in media research, ratings and data.

Given the fact that in five years half of the U.S. population will be 50-plus and will control 70 percent of the disposable income in the U.S., it’s critical that businesses understand what motivates Boomers to buy and become loyal customers.neurofocus_nielsen

According to the recent Nielsen NeuroFocus study, mature brains respond differently to marketing messages than younger brains, they have a broader attention span and are more emotionally balanced.

Despite the widespread assumption that mature brains cannot learn and adapt, neuroscience research suggests that they retain plasticity — the ability to change as a result of experience — well into the later stages of life.

Caroline Winnett, chief marketing officer of Nielsen NeuroFocus and a Boomer herself, says the upside of the study for her generation and those who market to it is that the brain is far more adaptable than previously thought. “So the old paradigm that you get old and your brain and all your neurons die is completely getting shot down by new research,” she says.


Other findings of the study and suggestions for applying them in your marketing approach include:

  • Marketers should be upbeat in their advertising because mature brains have better control over their emotions and respond more to positive messages.
  • Boomers don’t want to be stereotyped as feeling old, so avoid messages featuring older people. Instead, speak to them intelligently and honestly.
  • Although their memory may be slipping, Boomers have broader attention spans than their younger counterparts, which means they can absorb more nuanced messages. Play to this by creating mnemonic triggers (memory aids) for your brand or product that they can recall easily.
  • Boomer brains process information differently. They tend to ignore messages and images that are too cluttered. Your message can be complex, but keep the format and delivery simple.

According to Nielsen, two-thirds of Boomers plan to spend more time on their hobbies and interests as they move from a life dedicated to making money (work) to one that is directed to spending money (retirement).

“The Boomer is a dynamic consumer and a very valuable one,” notes Nielsen. “It’s clear that taking their loyalty for granted, or forsaking them for being too loyal or set in their ways, are both risky approaches for marketers.”

About the Author: Beth Longware Duff writes on small business topics, including reasons to accept credit cards on your website.

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