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Carol Orsborn

4 more myths about marketing to vibrant Boomer women

As a result of Vibrant Nation’s many surveys, we know that women 50+ feel largely invisible to the marketing world. While there are promising, notable exceptions, (in Stephen’s and my book Vibrant Nation: What Women 50+ Know, Do, Think & Buy, we cite a number of these, including Not My Daughter’s Jeans as an excellent example), the majority of advertisers still have a hard time getting their heads around the fact that the largest single demographic in the U.S. population, who also happens to have the most discretionary income and influence over other consumer segments, is worth a dedicated campaign.

In our book and blogs, we address the top myths surrounding marketing to Boomer women. For example, even the most youth-biased marketer has had to confront the truth that Boomer women are a dominant presence online. From Facebook and AOL to WebMD and Amazon.com, statistics demonstrate that Boomer women are the largest and/or fastest-growing segment pretty much across the board.

But just when you think you have heard every illogical reason regarding why it’s better to market to most any demographic other than vibrant boomer women, along comes an illuminating conference and a widely-promoted research study that bring to light both the resilience and creativity of a new batch of bust-worthy myths.

4 more myths about marketing to vibrant Boomer women

  1. Advertisers want to market to their best customer.
    Busted courtesy of Tom Jordan, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of The Kaleidoscope Group, who presented on the topic of “How Being Smart with Women Outmaneuvers ‘The Mad Men” at the M2W pre-conference. Tom points out what he nicknames a bad case of “Podium Addiction” which takes precedence over marketing to any demographic that won’t help the creative team win a Golden Lion at Cannes. Jordan showed pictures of the 19 judges at last year’s most coveted awards competition, and one could not help but notice that out of the panel, there was but one woman and one older person—a man. Is it any wonder that a winning ad for Wrangler Jeans features a young, attractive woman crossing an empty highway late at night, looking like no less than road kill in the headlights. The tagline: “We are animals.”
  2. Marketing to Boomer women has a shelf life.

    Seated next to a Gen X woman, the marketing director of a major consumer website, whose dominant consumer is Boomer women, I was told pointblank that all their marketing efforts were going towards Millennials. When asked why, she responded: “There’s no future in targeting a demographic that old.” I looked at her, and replied glibly: “The average Boomer is aged 51 and will live three or four more decades. Statistics show, however, that you are likely to be leaving your job in less than two years.” That was the end of the conversation.

  3. Aspirational advertising for Boomer women means showing younger women.

    This is not the first time we’ve busted this myth. The truth is that Boomer women prefer advertisements that show “women like me” looking great at around their same age. But the myth that she responds best to teenagers with lipstick on has taken on new life in the form of a misleading headline on a largely-distributed Marketwire story from a new major research study. The headline reads: “The Geppetto Group Finds Youthful Attributes are Key to Reaching Adults.” When you read the fine print, you discover that the WPP firm is actually saying that the things that motivated any particular demographic when they were young continue to motivate them as adults. I buy this—but heard about the study from others who understandably misunderstood the message to mean that Boomers respond to youthful attributes of current generations. I may have let this past, but for a paragraph also buried in the press release that quotes a Geppetto executive saying that The Boomer heyday “may have been in the 60’s.” Heck no. That’s myth number four.

  4. The Boomer heyday was in the 60’s.

    The truth is, ask the majority of Vibrant Boomer women. The 60’s may have been terrific times for the leading-edge of the demographic, but the majority of Boomers were still in single digits for most of the decade. And in any case, I—along with many of my peers—believe that our heyday is yet to come.


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