09 September 2009

New frugality is the new normal

If you’re alive you probably know this already:

New Frugality Is the New Normal, By Necessity
image A year after "shop 'til you drop" stopped, the nation fixates on this question: Will consumer spending ever return to pre-recession levels? …


Until the Great Recession, the worst recession since World War II was in 1981-82. Unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent in December 1982, a month after the recession had ended.

The recovery that followed was powered by baby boomers …

The housing bubble mistakenly led boomers and millions of others to believe their home was their retirement nest egg. If they left their home equity alone during the boom, they've taken a hit the last couple years but are still ahead. But many treated their home like a personal bank and spent the gains by tapping a home equity line of credit.

Some now feel disgusted with the great national buying binge and are reacting against it …

So what should companies and advertising/marketing agencies do?  I wrote about this ten months ago:

Baby Boomers & The Economic Collapse
What do you buy? Almost everything.  Clothes, appliances, computers, toothpaste.  The list is endless.  Regular, ol’ stuff.  Stuff almost exclusively marketed to twentysomethings with ad campaigns that don’t resonate with middle-aged consumers …

So sell them clothes, appliances, computers, toothpaste.  This way you’ll beat the competition.

Just make sure you have the right guts around to trust.


2008: A Review
(20 min)


For a UK perspective, Dick Stroud’s recent presentation (click the graphic):


07 September 2009

WhatsNext.com: You Need More Than A Resume

imageThere have been plenty of posts about Baby Boomers and HR on this blog. The subject gets more press than I can keep up with.

A few hi-profile Boomers are nailing it. Most who are looking for jobs haven’t been so fortunate.  There are reasons.  And those same reasons, along with ignoring their implications, will choke the growth of the economy.

A new website is doing its best to nudge recovery by focusing on pragmatic employment and entrepreneurial issues:

imageThe mission of WhatsNext.com is to provide information, inspiration and resources for men and women who want to change careers, find more fulfilling work or improve their work-life balance. All are welcome, but there will be an emphasis on those who are in mid-career or approaching retirement.

Examiner.com’s Andy Bragg does a good job exploring the development of WhatsNext.com:

What's Next is what was next for publishing executive Jeremy Koch
image It was 2003 and since joining Time Inc. as a newly minted MBA in 1980 Koch had risen through Consumer Marketing for the largest magazine publisher: analyst on Life and Time, Circulation Director of Fortune, Deputy Time Consumer Marketing Director, VP Consumer Marketing and Brand Development of People and finally President of Time Consumer Marketing.

Also with impressive credentials: Mark Gleason and Mark Miller.

So if it’s Labor Day and you’re not celebrating quite like you used to – check out WhatsNext.com.

More from Dick Stroud.

04 September 2009

Savvy sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of care.

Pat Frank[3] I chatted with freelance writer Patricia Frank awhile back about sleep products and Baby Boomers.  A revamped article for Bed Times Magazine is now in Sleep Savvy Magazine.

image Sleep Savvy, the magazine for sleep products professionals, is distributed eight times a year to more than 24,500 retailers at furniture stores, sleep shops, and department stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Flip through the digital edition:

The article with way too many quotes from yours truly begins on page 36.

Also tucking in the corners:

Dr. Carol Orsborn of Vibrant Nation

mtMatt Thornhill of
The Boomer Project



David Weigelt of Immersion Active


David Baxter of Age Wave

02 September 2009

Don’t blink or you’ll miss them.

image Okay, I admit it.  I watched Mad Men last night.  On On Demand.  A guilty pleasure, although this particular episode was a bit slow and soapy

And like a good Mad Man, I didn’t fast-forward through the commercials.  Two gave me the heebie-jeebies. 

Backstory on the first one: There have been scores of news articles and studies recently about entrepreneurs, small business, and Baby Boomers: 

imageBoomers go venturing
By Hanah Cho
• Over the past decade, Americans between 55- and 64-years-old had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity.

The lowest rate belongs to the 20-34 age group.

• From 1996 to 2007, the 55-64 group averaged an entrepreneurial activity rate roughly one-third larger than their youngest counterparts.

Entrepreneurship: The New Mid-Life Crisis
image So what does this mean for the U.S. economy? Should we expect a decline in productivity if those at the helm of the workforce aren’t as spry as they once were? Not at all, says Dane Stangler, the researcher who put together the study. He says the popular myth of boomers being a burden on the U.S. economy is completely unfounded.

And I’ve been talking about these subjects for years.  Peek at the introduction to my book:

Venture capitalists take heed: the largest demographic of entrepreneurs is over forty, the largest consumer demographic the same.

I’m not sure American Express knows any of this.  Here’s the first spot I saw – and other than a late fortyish Boomer in the beginning and end, small business looks like a young person’s game:

Even a promotional video for their Open Forum site barely gives a nod to Boomers (except for Richard Branson, whose image zips by without comment):

The second spot was for Expedia.com.  I can’t find it on the web.  There were two Baby Boomers in it.  I think.  Like Richard Branson, they flew by so fast it seemed as if Expedia was embarrassed about showing them at all.   

If you have access to On Demand or something like it, and Mad Men is listed, you can probably catch the Expedia.com spot - and the two Baby Boomers sitting at a table.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss them.

31 August 2009

The Trouble with HR

image While writing the first edition of my book way back in 2004, I ripped through it without much of a third eye – meaning, I knew what it was about but I had no idea what it was going to end up being.  When I received copies from my publisher, cracked open one, and finished it, I had a minor epiphany.  “This is really a book about HR.”  Kind of a shock, since I certainly didn’t plan it as such.  I’m one of those creative types, not a Human Resources person.

Since then, diversity has become a mantra.  (If you can have more than one mantra – is there such a thing as mantra multitasking?)  My blog is filled with diversity posts.  Here’s one with links to others:

Diversity = Productivity
image... Scott E. Page, a professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan, is a fresh voice... Rather than ponder moral questions like, “Why can’t we all get along?” Dr. Page asks practical ones like, “How can we all be more productive together?” The answer, he suggests, is in messy, creative organizations and environments with individuals from vastly different backgrounds and life experiences.

Of course, there’s this:

You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers
But Do You Really Know Them Well?
image … But what about consumers who feel disconnected? What about blacks and Asians and Hispanics who feel most brands aren't part of their lives, at least as they are filtered through the power structure of today's advertising business?
It makes all the sense in the world for ad makers (both clients and agencies) to be well-stocked with people who understand consumers, whether young people who fathom the mysteries of cyberspace, a good mixture of people who reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, and, yes, even older people who understand the vitality and buying power of the great gorge of baby boomers overtaking our land.

Talk about the need for greater diversity in the business largely has fallen on deaf ears. Nobody likes to be told whom they should hire -- unless it can be demonstrated that hiring the right mix of people can improve the bottom line …

A new book by Johnny C. Taylor and Gary M. Stern looks like a good one:

The Trouble with HR: An Insider's Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People
image Anyone seeking to get the best results for their organization must find and keep great employees. Yet many HR departments are still using cookie-cutter approaches to finding new hires. This book gives readers practical guidance on what they can do to attract, and hang onto, the best and the brightest talent. The book explores the latest thinking in employee relations, compensation and benefits, training, onboarding, and development practices. This is a unique, powerful book no one concerned with finding and retaining the best people should be without.

….  A 2006 study by IOMA found that companies with effective talent management practices retain employees for longer time periods and outperform industry averages by 22 percent. But most HR departments are still using the same old cookie-cutter approach to finding new hires.

And after reading this heartwarming piece by Michael Winerip of The New York Times, the timing is perfect for a book about The Trouble with HR.

Excellent tips from Mr. Taylor: