16 May 2008

Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport

BusinessWeek has a piece about new features in cars that take into account older eyes, older bodies.

No surprise to me. I suggested this years ago – in my book and during a long segment in 2005 on The Advertising Show.
The Coming Boom in Boomer-Friendly Transport
by Jim Henry
In part to aid the aging driver, General Motors (GM) is adding high-tech features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warnings, both available on the 2008 Cadillac STS and DTS models. "GM recognizes the importance of this sizable demographic group in the U.S. and globally," said Dave Rand, executive director, global advanced vehicles, in a written presentation.
Big Business is behind the curve, as usual. But better late than never.

My point three years ago was that Baby Boomers were buying up those mid-priced boxy cars (even though they were being marketed to college kids and twenty-somethings) because they were easy to get in and out of, easy to see out of, and some had large dashboards that were easy to read. So why not build cars with these and more features for older drivers? And market them as such?

Over six months later I read this.

But ageism is still rampant in the advertising and business world. More from the BusinessWeek article:
Etsuhiro Watanabe, an associate chief designer at the Nissan Design Center, was careful to point out that Nissan is not designing a car specifically for old people. "The improved ergonomics will benefit drivers of all age groups, young and old included," he said.
Pretty funny. Like I've said, I remember when those boxy cars were selling to an older demographic (they still are) and upsetting marketers because the predicted target wasn't being hit. “What are we doing wrong?” they asked themselves.

I certainly don’t remember any of them, upon launches, carefully pointing out that their cars were “Not specifically designed for young people” …

Dick Stroud also blogged this piece – with his usual trenchant comments.


  1. My theory is the "masterminds" behind big business marketing are merely kids themselves who don't have a clue as to what the real needs and concerns of baby boomers are.

    Case in point: When I went for a visit to Hallmark last year, I learned that the "Maxine" cards were designed by a young man in honor of his mother more than 20 years ago. Now, while the Maxine cards may be funny---how many boomer women do you know who look like that today?

  2. That, Beverly, is the major theme of my book - and this blog, and my consulting and presentations.

    The point I make that usually resonates: If I had some hot, cutting-edge product for late teens and twenty-somethings - and I walked into my advertising/marketing agency - and all I saw were people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies - I would be very, very worried ...


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