17 January 2007

Baby Boomers and The Joy of Tech: Part Two

"Articles (in recent marketing magazines and press releases) inevitably contain the revelation that it is possible to divide older people into strange tribal groups. They are given names like the sophisticated 'Astute Cosmopolitans' and the boring 'Thrifty Traditionalists'. Other than the amusement value, why are consumers … dissected into so many weird sounding segments?" - Dick Stroud, Millennium's Circus Newsletter
"Now that most marketers have realized that today's Boomer Consumers are still worthy of their attention, they are scrambling to find the best segmentation scheme … The problem, of course, is that most segmentation schemes have little or no value to most marketers … Recently we've seen a slew of new segmentation schemes based on research by a variety of organizations. (One) identified five segments with names like Empowered Trailblazers, Wealth-Builders, Leisure Lifers, Anxious Idealists … Another firm identified 24 segments. (Another identified six.)" - Matt Thornhill, Boomer Marketing News
And there are more. I've lost count. It seems that every time a marketing firm decides to specialize in Baby Boomers, we get more "strange tribal groups."

It's quite an odd phenomenon. With tongue firmly in cheek, I warned about this in my book - predicting that eventually they'd come up with 76 million cohorts.

And we're getting closer to that magic number. TV Land has some new ones (scroll all the way down): The Simple Seekers, The American Idolaters, The Mobile Enthusiasts ...

While this isn't directly related to marketing, MSN and the University of Maryland have unearthed even more curious Baby Boomers:
We have The Easy Glider, The Adventurer, The Continuer ...

But here's the best part:
"Schlossberg divides baby boomers into six main types. Some people may fit into more than one category, and over time, people will likely shift from one type of boomer to another."
So if we unpack this ....

All Baby Boomers are not the same, except when they are - and over time they may or may not become a little bit, a lot, or exactly like some, many, or all other Baby Boomers - only different, maybe.

What a big help. Thanks.

There are better ways of slicing and dicing cohorts from raw data than with dubious personality profiling. Such segmentation ends up being an admixture of astrology, psychobabble, and voodoo - having "little or no value to most marketers" except for "entertainment value."

Or so says Anxious Trailblazing Astute Simple-Seeker Easy-Glider Thrifty Adventurer Chuck.

More from Dick Stroud. (But he makes it way too easy.)

1 comment:

  1. Chuck,

    This is a brilliant column and exactly captures my ruminations about segmentation.

    Boomer segmentation models have been developed by Age Wave/TVLand, Focalyst, Yankelovich and others before the newest players, CMB.

    The different models reveal surprisingly similar segments, although they attach different tribal names and descriptive nuances.

    Further, marketers have been segmenting the market based on intuitive understanding of the appropriate niche segment, such as the new Mercedes campaign focused on CMB's Status Seekers.

    They did not need a research model to understand who among the Boomers would be most likely to want/afford a Mercedes and which triggers to trip.


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