An email, slightly expurgated:
Subject: Boomer Gnashing Teeth
Hi Mr. Nyren,
I just read some quotes of yours and became aware of your focus on baby boomers and “trends”.
Perhaps you can use my observations about one particular product. Toothpaste!
I am a 53 year old Canadian. I am a ship’s captain and feel pretty comfortable with a lot of technologies since the marine industry has always been a forerunner of new equipment.
Lately, however, whenever I go to a supermarket or pharmacy to buy toothpaste, I end up standing in front of a massive display of toothpaste for what seems like hours trying to determine which style/brand I want to purchase. Quite often I just walk away in disgust. I have no problems making decisions quickly in other aspects of my life! What the hell’s with all the packaging and options? I just want a simple, effective toothpaste like there used to be in the (19)60’s. I don’t want flash marketing. I don’t care if it’s “Complete” or “With Scope” or “Whitening” or “Cinnamon” I just want a god damn mint toothpaste with a simple screw cap.
Why do the manufacturers think a tube that stands on it’s end is such a necessity? Those huge plastic caps waste resources, don’t generally get recycled, waste toothpaste and are just a huge pain in the ass.
Alas, I’m not the only consumer who is clearly frustrated with Crest, Colgate and the others. Why don’t these companies ask consumers what they want? Aaargh!
If you have any influence whatsoever with Procter and Gamble and can bring back a simple toothpaste, I would personally nominate you for a Nobel prize or Pulitzer or Emmy or whatever is given to social researchers.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
He must’ve run across this syndicated piece from The Canadian Press:
Boomers tough marketing target
September 8, 2013
By Romina Maurino
… To boomer Chuck Nyren, who has spent years working in advertising and has written a book about selling to his demographic, one of the keys to drawing in the 50-plus crowd is to stop treating them like they're old.
The problem with ad campaigns for products targeted at boomers, he says, is advertising firms don't know how to treat that group.
"If they do it at all, it's only for products that are medical, maybe vacations," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Snohomish, Wash., near Seattle.
"If you're over 50 and you watch television, it just keeps reinforcing the fact that you're sick. That automatically kind of turns you off to everything. They think of baby boomers as either old, smiling vapid people on a beach, or as old hippies."
… And to Nyren, 62, in-store marketing isn't doing much better.
"If you walk into a mall, it just gets annoying because there's so much noise that is directed toward younger people, even for products that are for older people, and it doesn't really grab you anymore," he said.
The toothpaste conundrum…
From a review of my book Advertising to Baby Boomers ©2005:
Nyren humorously considers the Boomer making a consumer decision:
So what toothpaste should I buy? Anybody have any ideas? I have a trillion dollars in the bank, and 300 billion to spend as I please. And I’m sauntering around the dental care aisle, hands in my pockets, jingling a few million in loose change, looking up and down, side to side, and I’m not sure what I’m going to buy (p. 54).
And more from the book:
… In chapter eleven I tossed together a tongue-in-cheek scenario of me strolling up and down a toothpaste aisle and not knowing what to buy because I had no idea what product would be best for someone my age. I also mentioned that one way of “cutting through the clutter” would be to come up with a plainer package, or at least one that
didn’t look like a space-age Christmas tree ornament…
It’s always fun to get sparkling, insightful emails from folks – and to wallow in my fifteen minutes of fame in Canada.