30 June 2007

Don't Ignore The Boomer Consumer

Just one of many same old, same olds. In fact, there are so many that I can barely keep track of them. This time it's from Brandchannel:
Don't Ignore The Boomer Consumer
Boomers are reported to spend a staggering US$ 2.3 trillion in annual household expenditures (twice the amount of 18- to 39-year-olds), enjoy the highest incomes of any age group, and were born during a fortunate crack in history to cash in on the real estate and stock booms.
Nothing new here if you've read my book and/or kept up with this blog (along with a few other books and blogs). And did I ever have to dig around my dusty, old ethereal attic just to extract this moldly post about Campus Continuum

28 June 2007

Forth and Towne R.I.P. Redux

Carol Orsborn of FH Boom has a few choice blog posts (actually, fun stories) about her experiences at the now defunct Forth & Towne:
A Tale of Two Townes
Forth and Towne, Gap's high-profile ill-fated effort to start up a retail store dedicated to selling fashion to boomer women, did not pass away because boomer women don't want to be catered to as a special segment of the retail marketplace. There is the persistent rumor afoot that the last thing a women of a certain age wants to be is "ghettoized."
The Rest of the Tale of Two Townes
I was confused. The Forth and Towne concept was that there were different types of women, each with her appropriate area. Each had its own descriptive made-up name, none of with which I identified.
I blogged about Forth & Towne when the stores opened - and again when they closed. The reasons I gave for Forth & Towne's failure were different from Carol's - but I don't think mutually exclusive.

A quote by Bill Bernbach:
"A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad."
So now after reading Carol's posts I've realized that if The Gap's marketing folks had listened to me, the stores would've folded in eighteen days instead of eighteen months.

Update, July 1st - I can't bring myself to write a third post in a row about women's fashions - as if I really know anything about the subject. So here's a link to an excellent piece by Barbara Bradley on Commericalappeal.com: Women of a certain age don't want to look like little girls

25 June 2007

Boomer Films

James Caan, Robert Duvall, and a few others are putting together Boomer Films – ostensibly to produce films for Baby Boomers:
Boomer Films, created by Caan, 66, hopes to break the stranglehold of big-studio blockbusters such as Spiderman and Pirates of the Caribbean. Helped by an older generation of filmmakers, the company wants to produce movies based on powerful stories that are less reliant on explicit sex and violence.
Colleague Dick Stroud isn’t so sure about it. I’m not sure – but it doesn’t sound like the worst of ideas.

Actually, my feeling back in the 1970s was that the “stranglehold of big-studio blockbusters” was alive and well, what with The Poseidon Adventure, The Exorcist, The Towering Inferno, Jaws and the like. The Godfather (I&II) were exceptions to the rule. Most of the fondly remembered films made by folks like Martin Scorcese, Robert Altman, Woody Allen and others weren’t super-duper, rooter-tooter blockbusters. But I do admit – there were more of them then than now. And unless my memory has completely moldered, I vaguely recall loads of "explicit sex and violence" back then - although the stories were, more often than not, complex and powerful.

In the 1st Edition of Advertising to Baby Boomers (also included in the new edition) there is a chapter about bringing back creatives from that era to help fashion television/video web campaigns. You can read it on The Advertising Educational Foundation web site (click the link to download the PDF). Considering the cross-pollination between Film/TV and Advertising, perhaps Mr. Caan’s idea might be a creative shot in the arm for all media industries.

23 June 2007

UD, Aging in Place, and My Dumb Noggin

Wesley Hein at LifeTwo.com has a good piece about universal design and aging in place:
In the post war years, the big market was in small affordable homes that could be bought on a GI bill and were suitable for raising a family. Sixty years later, the children of those GI's are looking ahead a few decades and don't want to be moved into a retirement community.
And he points you to a good piece by June Fletcher of the Wall Street Journal:
Traditionally, the market for these products has been the elderly and handicapped, but builders and manufacturers see a bigger prize: middle-aged homeowners who don't need them yet. The beleaguered housing industry is hoping it can attract these buyers with more stylish, less institutional fare such as "smart" kitchen faucets and dishwashers …
I’ve written a bunch of stuff about UD and Aging in Place:

Baby Boomers and Universal Design

Neighborhood Design, Universal Design

Selling Universal Design to Baby Boomers

Aging in Place (PDF)

And Rolling Rains commented on one of my pieces.

But, like the typical Baby Boomer, I’ll probably wait until I slip in the bathtub and crack my dumb noggin before I get the hint to do some retrofitting.

20 June 2007

Interview with Cathy Hamilton of Boomergirl.com

Colleague Brent Green (Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers) has tossed up a blog post and video interview with Cathy Hamilton, founder of Boomergirl.com.
It's worth a read/watch/listen:

This website is the brainchild of Cathy Hamilton, a long-time journalist in Lawrence, Kansas, home of the University of Kansas. With the support of World Media -- a company that owns the community newspaper, The Lawrence Journal World, as well as other media properties -- Cathy and her team have created an imaginative, warm and welcoming place for middle-aged women worldwide to connect and collaborate.
There were real reasons - and a specific plan - behind the creation of Boomergirl.com. Cathy just didn't say to herself, "Hey! Boomers have lots of money! Let's put up a web site for Baby Boomers! Whoopie!!!"

I blogged about Boomergirl.com back in January. I don't know how many people I've sent there to show them how a site targeting Baby Boomers should be done. There are so many horrible ones - with scores and scores coming down the pike - that it's refreshing to have at least one or two thoughtful, intelligent, fun sites around.

19 June 2007

Dennis Hopper for Ameriprise

The generally funny and always nutty Radar Online has a piece by Jessica Grose about Dennis Hopper and Ameriprise. A bunch of 'young whippersnappers' weigh in:
"At 71, Hopper looks great and is the right age to be offering advice about retirement planning. But baby boomers who remember this easy rider as a bad drunk and a serious drug abuser may laugh their way through the commercial. If not bingo, Dennis, what? Spin the bong? If not shuffleboard, dropping acid? A gong for miscasting." — Jack Mathews, New York Daily News
While there are strong whiffs of ageism in most of their comments (I certainly don't remember being such a jerk when I was their age ...), I generally agree with them - and Radar's Final Verdict. But for different reasons.

I really have nothing to add. The new campaign is simply a continuation of the old one. I've already said enough about it.

Maybe too much

15 June 2007

Boost Your Boomer Business

In the previous post I talked about the value of marketing/advertising books. This month GRAND Magazine has an article titled Boost Your Boomer Business with reviews of a handful - including David Wolfe's Firms of Endearment, Mary Furlong's Turning Silver Into Gold, Marti Barletta's PrimeTime Women, and mine:
This fascinating book reveals how to rethink current advertising strategies to effectively reach the thriving boomer marketplace. Nyren passes on key information about how the generation responds to advertising, cleverly pointing out that this group grew up during the years when advertising really flourished and expanded. So, their level of advertising sophistication is key to consider when developing advertising strategies and campaigns.

Additionally, a special section of the book focuses on helping baby boomer entrepreneurs jump-start their marketing and advertising.
Here's a PDF of the article: Boost Your Boomer Business.

Thanks, GRAND. And it's a great issue: a profile of Nancy Pelosi, an interview with John Erickson of Erickson Homes and Retirement Living TV, and a bubbly, funny piece by Susan Silver.

14 June 2007

Advertising to Baby Boomers Now Downloadable

I receive lots of hits to this blog, along with email queries from around the world, about my book - especially from Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Even a few from Asia and the Middle East. It's usually available on their regional Amazon.com and other online bookseller sites - but at twice the price as in the States. Sometimes three times the price. Often it takes two or three weeks to get it because it's actually shipped from here.

And the 2007 paperback edition isn't available outside of the U.S. yet.

Here's how I see it: There aren't many (if any) marketing/advertising books really worth more than fifteen, twenty, thirty dollars at most. It's a crapshoot, anyway. One book might be invaluable to you, while another might be worthless. You won't know until you read them. And that same book you loved will be useless to someone else, while the one that had nothing in it for you might be priceless to another.

Because of the worldwide interest in Advertising to Baby Boomers, my publisher Paramount Books now offers it as a PDF Download. It's the same price anywhere.

If you're interested, go here. There is a pull-down menu with Shipped Version as the default. Click it and pick the Download Version. You'll receive a password and a link to the download site.

Also take a gander at Paramount's newest catalog of savvy business books (PDF).

09 June 2007

Boomer Consumer by Matt Thornhill and John Martin

Already there are three excellent books this year about Boomers, Business, and Marketing: PrimeTime Women, Turning Silver Into Gold, and now Boomer Consumer by Matt Thornhill and John Martin. Like the first two, Boomer Consumer is a breezy but overflowing-with-info read.

This won’t be a thorough review because I try not to compose blog posts that virtually unfurl into the basement. I’ll simply say that while turning the pages of Boomer Consumer I was constantly nodding in agreement. These gentleman are the Baby Boomer marketing research experts.

But I knew that already, what with following The Boomer Project for the last three years, and subscribing to Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the new Boomer Marketing News.

Research. Well, being one of those creative types who, as a rule, throws research in the trash, I always seem to glean great stuff from The Boomer Project and their insights. The reason is because (and this sounds like a back-handed compliment, but it isn’t) The Boomer Project is a down-to-earth, fairly small outfit – not a bloated, impersonal multinational. I rarely trust survey results with simpleminded black and white questions given to tens of thousands of people. The companies that do those merely crank-out, crunch, and collate - while Matt and John spend time listening to the people who will be involved in their surveys before they even fashion the questions. You’ll know what I mean when you read the book.

For review purposes (although I didn’t really review it) I was sent an advance reader copy. Boomer Consumer will be released in about a month. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

08 June 2007

Carol's Web

Immersion Active has tossed up Carol’s Web – a promotional flash presentation for their services.

While there’s not much new here, all the points made are valid. Of course, it’s an introduction to their philosophy of web design/navigation, so they don’t give away the store. Nothing wrong with that.

My only real criticism has to do with Carol and her cheesy, stilted, quite annoying “inner-voice over.” I doubt that anybody actually thinks like this. Perhaps in a focus group, or in a controlled situation where the participants are critiquing a web site, they might blurt out comments like ‘Hmmm. I’m certainly having a hard time making out the name of this company…’ or ‘What’s this eagle here? Click on it? For what?’ …… ???

In reality, it’s much worse. Most people over fifty simply ignore things on the web they don’t care about, can’t really see, or that don’t make much of an impression. If they find a web site exasperating, they move on. If you could peer into their minds, you probably wouldn’t find much inner dialogue going on about the web site they’re viewing. If they can’t find the info they’re looking for – bye, bye.

Add to this the fact that most Baby Boomers are internet-savvy – especially the well-heeled, successful women demo this particular exercise/example uses. They’re not deer-in-the-headlights, bumbling idiots like Carol.

For a report about web design and navigation that’s much deeper and comprehensive, contact Dick Stroud. He has a PDF he might send you: Tips For Building 50+ Web Sites. It’s my instant web design bible when I’m consulting. Gill Walker also writes and talks about web and print design. So do I. But again, we don’t give away the store.

I’m sure Immersion Active does top-notch work. Check them out.

But if you give them a call and Carol answers the phone, hang up.

06 June 2007

Book Review and Interview on LifeTwo.com

LifeTwo.com has been around for awhile. I blogged about it (it seems like) ages ago. Since then it's become one of the top stops for general news and human interest stories for and about Baby Boomers and beyond. Few sites are as deep, as eclectic.

Wesley Hein reviewed Advertising to Baby Boomers and interviewed me the other day:
Unlike most business books about advertising, Nyren's book is written for clients with products or services that they want to market to Baby Boomers.
Aside from their copious offerings, LifeTwo is one of the founders of the BloggingBoomers Carnival. It's a collection of blog posts hosted every week or so by one of the member bloggers. If you're in advertising/marketing, it'd be a good idea to check out all these blogs. They'll give you a good idea what Baby Boomers are chatting about. Here's information on the latest one.

03 June 2007

Passat's Midlife Crisis

I was tipped off to Passat’s tongue-in-cheek web site by Steve Hall’s top-notch, often troublemaking blog, Adrants (rated way up there in some recent marketing/advertising blog poll):

Mid-Life Crisis Campaign Alienates Both Young And Old

After sniffing around the Passat site, I forwarded the URL to Dick Stroud because the campaign was created in London. He jumped all over it.

Now it’s my turn ...

A bit of background: I also write fiction, plays, short stories, commentary, other stuff besides advertising. Most ad creatives do. And when I do, I write whatever I want. No self-censoring. If I make fun of myself, of getting older, of just about anything, the point is to be honest and entertaining and whatever you want to call it. And that’s it.

But when involved in selling products and services, of course I censor myself. Common sense tells you it’s a bad idea to alienate or make (too much) fun of your target market.

Here’s a ‘creative’ piece I recently sent to Ronni Bennett’s Elder Storytelling Place. You may think it’s funny, stupid, great, middling – think anything you want.

My point: I would never use this type of scenario to sell products or services to Baby Boomers – or any demographic. If you’re feeling the urge to viciously and relentlessly mock a group of people, it might be a good idea to make sure it’s not the group of people you’re targeting.

If you can’t control yourself (like I can’t sometimes), here’s a better idea: write something, make a video, put up a web site that is funny and vicious and relentless but isn’t advertising anything. Feel free to make fun of me. If it’s good, if it’s creative, I’ll probably laugh.

Steve Hall makes an excellent point about the Passat site also alienating younger demos:
This approach wields a questionably double edged sword. It clearly positions the Passat as a car no one under 40 would be caught dead driving.
How I would have done it: Make it a retreat for people in their twenties and thirties so they won't ever have to go through a ‘mid-life crisis.’ It's a preventative retreat. The older people would be the mentors, the enlightened ones. It would be explained that they never went through any sort of mid-life crisis because they’ve been driving Passats for their whole adult lives. Maybe one or two of the teachers (or guest lecturers) have recently reformed. They would tell horror stories about their midlife crisis former lives.

You've made heroes of your target market, you haven't alienated a secondary market (under 40s) - and you've still had all sorts of tongue-in-cheek fun.

Go play around on the Passat site. Laugh or roll your eyes, or both. I did both.

But I’ll bet that from now on, no matter what your age, every time you happen upon a Passat ...

You might chuckle – but it’ll also make you a bit queasy.