30 January 2009

Cookie-Cutter Cavalcades

Lots of ethereal ink lately about nuts ‘n bolts travel:
Retired? Hit the road, help your brain
by Rick Spratling
ap So you've escaped middle age and are ready for the long calm of retirement. What next? If you spend too much time rocking on the front porch, will your brain droop into autopilot? One antidote for this is educational travel …
Elderhostel holds Baby Boomer travel appeal
by Paul Briand
ex "The study said travel programs should be shorter in order to fit busy schedules and keep prices affordable. It said Boomers will want to travel in small groups, with a mix of free time, hands-on learning and behind-the-scenes activities rather than ordinary tourist fare …”
Sounds a bit like my book, first published in early 2005 (now in an updated paperback). An excerpt:
book1 book2

Old Jews Telling Jokes

Eric Spiegelman emailed a few months ago to tell me about Old Jews Telling Jokes, an upcoming collection of videos starring non-stars – which, of course, is the perfect zeitgeist for the web.  Now it’s up.

ojtj2 OJTJ is a bunch of folks in their  sixties and seventies who vacationed in the Catskills when they were kids and young adults – and fondly remember the great Borscht Belt comedians and their brilliant jokes.

What’s special about it all: After they tell a joke, these non-professionals are rather shocked and embarrassed by the huge roars from the off-screen audience.  The concept is even funnier because the jokes are usually off-color.  It’s a touching combination of raunch and innocence.  Very human:

There are a few more on the site – and new ones should show up twice a week.

I’m hooked.

29 January 2009

The New Old

Culled from a colleague’s email:

BTW, have you read "The New Old"? The author loves your writing and cites you generously.

Haven’t read it.  I bet he also cites my colleague.  I’ll have to order it:

newold The New Old: How the Boomers Are Changing Everything ... Again
by David Cravit
The New Old shows how the Boomers’ simple act of refusing to age is creating a revolution – in everything from education to employment to housing to health and beauty and, of course, to sex.

Mr. Cravit has dazzling credentials.  An article about the book and author:

50Plus BoomerAging: It’ll change everything
The final chapters of The New Old point business owners and organizational leaders in the right direction when it comes to including Boomers in their long term plans.

david cravitBut what's the take home message for Boomers themselves? Information is key. “It's important to stay on top of things,” Cravit advises.

I’ve blogged about Zoomers.  Moses Znaimer and others have put together an impressive network of media outlets in Canada.

27 January 2009

Generation B

The New York Times’ Michael Winerip now has a column focusing on Baby Boomers:

wineripThey Warned You About Us
Since the 1960s, when many of us were teenagers, Madison Avenue along with the news media have been polling, interviewing, analyzing, poking and sniffing us, and that continues to this moment, even as nearly 10,000 boomers turn 60 every day.

I used to write general interest columns about Baby Boomers way back in 1996-2002.  In fact, you need The Way Back Machine to find any of them:

                Baby Boomers Splash Pagepeace

Mr. Winerip is geared up for getting slammed – and he will:

But somehow — mistakenly I would argue — the term has become synonymous with greedy, spoiled, divorced, remarried mega-shopper.

I’m looking forward to Michael’s Generation B pieces.  We need more intelligent commentary to counter all the nonsense you read in the press and elsewhere.  Brent Green is doing a good job.  Now he has a kindred spirit.

I took a more humorous approach way back when:

tootsie1xBaby Boomer Nutrition (1998)
People are always coming up to me and asking, "Chuck, why are Baby Boomers so wonderful?"

How rare it is to have an infinite number of correct answers to a single question! One of my standard replies: It has to do with our alimentary intake during adolescence.

The Anti-Boomer Page (1997)
Oh, to be young and flippant again instead of old and flatulent.

And "... in the way" according to Tim McMahon (aka 'azel') and his very humorous Anti-Boomer Page. Here's a kid sick of hearing about Boomers -- and I don't blame him. Why, when I was his age all I ever heard about were the Depression and WWII. What a bore.

Good luck, Michael!

25 January 2009

Internet Hero of the Week

Couldn’t pass up blogging this word-of-mouth marketing story:

ect An uproar hit the Web over the weekend when it was discovered an employee at consumer electronics company Belkin had offered to pay people to write positive reviews for his company's products, even if they hadn't tried them … "Write as if you own the product and are using it," Bayard suggested. "Thank the website for making you such a great deal. Mark any other negative reviews as 'not helpful' once you post yours."

A handful of posts about WOMM:

Advertising/Marketing Article of The Month

The Brouhaha Over WOMM

The Brouhaha Over WOMM Returns

What's Plaguing Viral Marketing

My Blog Was WOMMed!

The juiciest tidbit:

efluxmedia The employee claims that Belkin writes bad reviews for other companies’ products so these can be put at a disadvantage in the eyes of the common consumer.

Amazon.com only?  I think not.  For every duplicitous WOMM post exposed, thousands go undetected. Even a lowly blog like this one has been infected by such sleazy business tactics. Twice. Follow the links:

I have a Jitterbug and looked into the breeze when it went on the market about 2 weeks ago. The breeze does have some additional features, but it is confusing for people like me to use …

I could be the poster child for the sandwich generation and loved this commercial …

Read about the Internet Hero of the Week.

22 January 2009

Discovering What Matters

mmmi Following the fun and insightful Ecologies of Risk report, The MetLife Mature Market Institute has released a new study:

Discovering What Matters: Balancing Money, Medicine and Meaning
1. Myth: The Good Life = material wealth. When asked to select from a list of 13 activities that
contribute to living a purposeful life, respondents were most likely to select spending time with friends/family (86%) and taking care of their physical self (63%).
2. Myth: Happiness = the absence of misfortune. Over the years, most people experience one or more negative “trigger events” such as serious illness, the death of a friend/family member and/or a major financial loss … Positive events, such as the birth of a grandchild or getting a new job, can serve as trigger events.
3. Myth: The Good Life = more (more friends, more money, more health, more activity). The good life comes from balance and alignment of financial security, health and meaningful activity. This usually means “lightening one’s load” by doing away with burdens that lead to unnecessary and/or unproductive activity.

Download The Discovering What Matters Study

Also check out the Workbook so you know what MetLife is up to with their marketing fodder. You’ll have to send away for the DVD, but the workbook is available for download.

snoop2 Higher up in the site hierarchy you can view MetLife’s TV campaigns – some from around the world.

21 January 2009

Television & Toothpaste

Friends keep sending me this Los Angeles Times article to blog:

lat Television is starting to look beyond the 18- to 49-year-old demographic Marketers targeted the group hoping to build brand loyalty in young people. Some in the TV industry now view that as short-sighted …

It’s a good piece with good quotes, but I kept putting it off because this blog has blogged the subject to death.  For years. A post from 2005:

nbctv Where's the TV for us?
Network television not only is under siege from other media - but compounds the problem by ignoring Baby Boomers … Brad Adgate of Horizon Media and Alan Wurtzel, president of research for NBC Universal, do a good job exposing the silliness of television advertisers (and advertising agencies) targeting only the 19-49 demographic …

A bunch of other posts.

Last year Les Moonves and yours truly were quoted in an article by Jennifer Mann of The Kansas City Star:

Baby boomers become the forgotten consumer

Back to the LA Times piece:

moonves … Some network executives and media buyers think the notion that young people's brand loyalty must be won early is, in Moonves' words, "an old wives' tale." The idea was that "if you bought Crest toothpaste when you were 18 years old, when you turned 50 you would still use Crest toothpaste," Moonves said.

Indeed, Sternberg and others said they knew of no reliable studies backing that theory.

Believe it or not … I’ve even talked about toothpaste.

20 January 2009

This sounds familiar.

I’m skimming this sort of interesting article in The Wall Street Journal:

wsjlogo Retirement Living TV Gets Boost
Comcast Deal Will Expand Audience as More Marketers Pursue Older Crowd
The deal, expected to be announced Friday, will initially bring RLTV to Comcast subscribers in the retiree-heavy markets of Tucson, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M, and spread to digital cable systems in other parts of the country in subsequent months.

Then it becomes very interesting - at least to me:

Erickson Mr. Erickson says RLTV, which initially targeted people 55 and over before drifting down to the over-50 set, doesn't plan to keep moving younger. But he is flexible about the network's name, which he acknowledges could turn off people at the bottom of his age range.

Hmmm. Sounds familiar. I search around and find a post from 2006:

Tailoring media to an older crowd
rltvHowever, the word 'retirement' might scare off Baby Boomers. It smacks of 'old' and 'irrelevant.'

18 January 2009

Already a Shade of Gray

There’s been lots of empty yack recently about the ‘end of the baby boomers’ and their waning influence now that Barack Obama (technically a Boomer) is about to take office. 

Yet it doesn’t seem as if the President-Elect is listening to such prattle:

1paul_briandObama Administration: Already a shade of gray
by Paul Briand
A look at the incoming Obama Administration shows it is not quite as young as people might think … There's a distinct tinge of gray to his incoming cabinet and senior advisers ... But the wonks can't separate the Baby Boomers from the new administration as easily as they might want. The Baby Boomer influence is far from dead in the upcoming administration.

Will the business industry apply the same intuitive template?  How about the advertising industry?

Mr. Briand also reports on another useless, over-the-hill Boomer.

Update: I’ve ‘disallowed’ comments for this post.  Too many political ones.  I’ll take the blame for merely mentioning something that slightly smacked of politics.

15 January 2009

More Nimble, More Creative Solutions

intel Stuart Elliott of the New York Times reports on an interesting ad biz tactic by Intel:

Intel Shifts Image Advertising to a Smaller Agency
StuartElliot Intel is shifting an important advertising assignment — to create brand and corporate image campaigns — to a smaller, independent agency from a Madison Avenue giant … The recession may accelerate the trend of large marketers looking for “more nimble, more creative solutions” to advertising problems, Mr. Venables said. “A company like ours is in a fantastic position.”

This is what I suggested in my book when targeting Baby Boomers.  A few excerpts:


nyrenagency While I’ve done a fair amount of consulting/creative strategy/copywriting for major companies, my ‘agency’ is a bit too small to really ‘pitch’ Unilever, Microsoft, Toyota, and all the others for full-service advertising/marketing/PR.  But if you’re one of the big guys or gals, consider a medium-sized agency for “more nimble, more creative solutions.”

And you can call me, of course.  I’ll help you find one.  (Along with spearheading, contributing, and shaking up things if need be.)

14 January 2009

Two Webinars

On the same day:

January 28, 2009 (11:00 am EST):

IMMNTodd Harff of Creating Results hosts a webinar sponsored by IMMN:

harff PHOTO FINISH: Choosing Marketing Images that Motivate Mature Consumers
Todd will review findings on what photography captivates vs. what photography turns prospects off.    He'll segment the findings by age, gender, employment status, income and more.  Get ready for some startling insights.

January 28, 2009 (3:00 pm EST):

Carolyn O’Neil hosts a free teleseminar sponsored by The National Association of Baby Boomer Women:

coBaby Boomers Get Smart about Digestive Health
A registered dietitian, award-winning food and health journalist, and co-author of, “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous,” Carolyn will discuss topics such as a comparison of products on the market today that tout digestive benefits, how getting adequate fluid on a daily basis is important for optimal digestive health, and how functional foods do more for your body than just provide basic nutrients.

13 January 2009

My Brain, Your Brain, iBrain

I read iBrain a few weeks ago, and it keeps roiling and bubbling in my noggin, like a good brain book should.

gary&gigi It’s mostly about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants – terms apparently coined by educational consultant Marc Prensky. In iBrain, Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan consider the psychological and neurological traits of these evolving archetypes:

Today's young people in their teens and twenties, who have been dubbed Digital Natives, have never known a world without computers, twenty-four-hour TV news, Internet, and cell phones—with their video, music, cameras, and text messaging. Many of these Natives rarely enter a library, let alone look something up in a traditional encyclopedia; they use Google, Yahoo, and other online search engines. The neural networks in the brains of these Digital Natives differ dramatically from those of Digital Immigrants: people—including all baby boomers—who came to the digital/computer age as adults but whose basic brain wiring was laid down during a time when direct social interaction was the norm. The extent of their early technological communication and entertainment involved the radio, telephone, and TV.

As a consequence of this overwhelming and early high-tech stimulation of the Digital Native's brain, we are witnessing the beginning of a deeply divided brain gap between younger and older minds—in just one generation.

How does this affect advertising creative? More fuel for the idea of a diverse workforce. Younger folks ingest and digest the world differently than older folks. So you’d better have the right guts around to trust.  If you don’t believe me, believe Rance Crain.

More from iBrain:

iBrainThe current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains. Daily exposure to high technology—computers, smart phones, video games, search engines like Google and Yahoo—stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neuralpathways in our brains while weakening old ones. Because of the current technological revolution, our brains are evolving right now—at a speed like never before.

Besides influencing how we think, digital technology is altering how we feel, how we behave, and the way in which our brains function. Although we are unaware of these changes in our neural circuitry or brain wiring, these alterations can become permanent with repetition. This evolutionary brain process has rapidly emerged over a single generation and may represent one of the most unexpected yet pivotal advances in human history. Perhaps not since Early Man first discovered how to use a tool has the human brain been affected so quickly and so dramatically.

Dr. Small @ Google:

10 January 2009

Another Industry Is Catching Up

So far this year not much new in news stories about Baby Boomers.  Here’s one I’ve already blogged:

nielsenBoomers: The Overlooked Media Sweet Spot
For media planners and buyers, step one is understanding the importance of Boomers in terms of spending power.

Now another industry is catching up:

usatoday Older folks like Wii, PCs and cellphones, too 
by Edward C. Baig
The topic of technology and aging takes center stage this weekend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. On Saturday, CES hosts the first Silvers Summit, a showcase for products and services dedicated to keeping aging Boomers engaged, entertained and healthy.

lat Grandparents get their widgets on
by Michelle Maltais
The boomer demographic is relatively tech savvy. More than 7 million own gaming systems even though they aren't parents, and 29 million own digital video recorders … Though seniors get their own tech summit at CES, products oriented specifically toward them occupy only a small section of the show floor. But the summit's founder said the growth potential could become too seductive to ignore. "Boomers are going to demand that these things are there -- for themselves and their parents," Raskin said.

Tech Marketers' Next Opportunity: Boomers
by Laurie Sullivan
onlinemediaIncreasingly savvy baby boomers - who … control billions in disposable income - could be the target for tech marketers during the next few years…

Two quotes from my book, originally published in early 2005:


And there are dozens of posts on this blog that gab about Boomers and technology.

ces But it’s fun to read about the many products showcased at The Consumer Electronics Show.

09 January 2009

Chico’s and Younger Women

bg Here’s something that tickled me:

Colleague and intrepid blogger/marketer Brent Green recently posted about Chico’s and their catalog:

Chico's and Baby Boomer Women ... NOT
chicos2 A few days ago I was visiting my neighbors Paul and Julie and noticed a Chico’s catalog … I started casually flipping pages. And flipping more. And backtracking and re-flipping. I became aghast, so I counted photos. In the “25th Anniversary Collections” catalog I counted sixty-two photos. Sixty-one photos depict women comfortably under 40. Most appear to be between 25 and 35.

I talked about Brent and his observations in recent online presentation, also mentioning a post of mine from July 2008:

Demand for Older Models Grows

wsjNow the Wall Street Journal reports that Chico’s CEO has “stepped down”:

Amid Sales Slump, Chico's Taps New CEO
By Jennifer Saranow

One of the main reasons for the shakeup?  Brent Green knew it instinctively:

chicos Spotlight blames Mr. Edmonds for the retailer's missteps, including turning off Chico's core baby boomer customers by trying to reach younger women…

08 January 2009

Boomers: The Overlooked Media Sweet Spot

Not much new here, points I’ve been making for years in television/radio/print/web news interviews, articles, my book, this blog, during consulting and speaking engagements – although it’s nice to see the industry finally catching up:
Boomers: The Overlooked Media Sweet Spot
nielsen2 For media planners and buyers, step one is understanding the importance of Boomers in terms of spending power. Step two is evaluating how well the current media strategy delivers against Boomers—then making necessary changes.
Nielsen also blogged it, if you feel like commenting.
For example:
The Nielsen/Hallmark analysis revealed that there was no clear distinction between Boomer households and younger households in terms of brand loyalty. In fact, Boomer households may actually be less brand loyal.
A quote from a review of my book (the 2005 edition) by Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg of Marquette University, published in The Journal of Consumer Marketing:
A second favorite excuse of agencies is: "Baby Boomers don't change brands" (p. 52, italics in original). Nyren dismantles this excuse nicely with examples of brand switching, and he further acknowledges that in cases where loyalty to a brand does exist, marketers who do not target Boomers give them no reason to change.
Read the full review. (PDF)
A Handful of Related Posts:
Forgotten Consumers
Study: TV's youth obsession backfiring
The steady glow of the Boom tube
Television programmers take note of the Silver Tsunami
Calcified Advertising Agencies
The Media & Baby Boomers: Joined At The Hip
CNBC, Hampton, Jerry and Me

06 January 2009

Retailers Aren't Sensitive to the Needs of Baby Boomers

An email:

I'm a 48 year old baby boomer re-entering the world of advertising. I've been absent over the last 18 years, got into commission sales with my husband and lost track…

Sharpie I feel like Rip Van Winkle who woke up in Back To the Future in the world of advertising. Did I miss anything? Never knew a sharpie marker and layout paper was destined to be programmed, digitalized, so sophisticated, in a different language - and then had to be plugged in.

I do have a gripe over the advertising in this last holiday season. The retailers aren't sensitive to the needs of the baby boomers. Especially in women's clothing. I've repeatedly read over the years that many baby boomers are in extend and plus sizes - but it’s not reflected in the departments in the stores. Those departments are the smallest department with little available.

I did without this go around. I have plenty of winter clothes, nice stuff, some I haven't even worn - so I didn't buy anything. I shop all over the place, not loyal to any retail or grocery store.

I'm tempted to do a marketing study for a major retailer I once worked for as a newspaper artist, and take pictures of what people are really wearing.  I’ll start in malls. You'd be surprised what’s shown in the stores vs. what people are wearing.

I currently live in Houston. Like I said I'm not loyal to anyone. I even buy at Wal-Mart. But now I weigh carefully as to what I buy, going for value, not just price.

I've been studying television and there's a lot of great creative going on, but I guess it’s not working because of the state of the economy. They're still running commercials with a  sense of urgency like if you don't hurry in they'll all be gone! That approach alone kept me from shopping. Like I’m responsible for them overcharging me all these years, seducing me with credit cards and making me feel like I'm responsible for bailing them out when they’re threatening to lay me off? Maybe they should humbly lower the interest rates on their cards, even give time-framed zero percent interest promotions on their store cards.

And one more thing about what’s going on in the world of advertising: the creative on television is great, but my husband, your average consumer, isn't impressed. He thinks all the advertising people have all this digital software and are trying to outdo each other! I’ve been studying it on the receiving end for the last 18 years. I don't want all this crap thrown at me. I want something specially selected for me at a value price and I want it available in my size.

Stop hyping and seduce me back into the store.

Paula Melton