05 April 2010

Boomer helps older adults bridge technology gap

Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 8:18 AM
To: nyrenagency@gmail.com
Subject: Hello. I've started reading your book and I'm fascinated.

Hello Mr. Nyren,
I’ve just started reading your book Advertising to Baby Boomers … and have found this market to be extremely difficult especially with a new product. I wanted to thank you for your insights and tell you that your book is helping tremendously. I never thought such a niche market would be easy, however I also didn’t realize how broad this “niche” market is. I wanted to reach out and thank you for being such a valuable source.
C. M.

If you send me a sweet email you get something in return! (Even if it’s not quite as sweet …)

image I checked out the product: a medical-alert device.  It’s a good one.  Most of the marketing is fine - maybe relying a bit too much on scare tactics.  On the web site there are videos explaining all about the product and how it works.  That’s great.

Although one piece made me wince: a twenty-something walks into a living room with the product still in its packaging.  She happily shows it to her youngish Boomer mother who’s sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing, contentedly staring off into the ether.  The product is a present for the mother. The daughter opens up the package.  It’s obvious that the mother is helpless, completely lost.  The twenty-something has to unwrap the package, take out the device and all the documentation and accessories, and explain everything to her.

This is the type of insulting advertising scenario I see all time. Even if true in certain circumstances, you don’t want to offend potential consumers by portraying them as too dumb to figure out how to use your product.

I’ve talked about this for years.  Some blog posts:

My Favorite Cyber-Myth (2005)

Baby Boomers Burst Online (2006)
"Later, I'll show you all how to set it up."

AARP & Microsoft: Technology & Baby Boomers (2009)

I would’ve cast this marketing video a bit differently. Not that older-than-baby-boomer folks are all tech luddites, but a more realistic scenario would be a Boomer-age daughter buying the product for her eighty year old mother.  After seeing how easy it is to use and set up, the daughter might  buy one for herself. 

Baby Boomers, now in their fifties and sixties, do not think of themselves as helpless old people.  They may or may not be – but you certainly do not want to portray them in marketing campaigns as dependent, confused, or technologically ignorant.  Most are not.

You’ve also accomplished two collateral goals:

  1. The potential customer is the hero(ine) of the story.
  2. The scenario implies that it will be easy for the customer to understand, set up, and use the product.

Today I read this:

Boomer helps older adults bridge technology gap 
image As Beane was helping her father learn about his new computer, he said to her, "You really like dealing with fogeys and geezers, don't you?" This comment helped Beane realize she had found a new calling. Beane started her company at the beginning of 2010.

Ms. Beane looks to be about the same age as the mother in the medical device marketing video.

If Ms. Beane wants to purchase one of these medical devices, I sure hope she has a twenty-something daughter around to unwrap it and explain to her how the thing works.

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