Marketing for simpler times

Yes! Yes! Yes! I do want to get rid of my second home, my Range Rover, all the trappings of my super rich life. Oh, wait a minute...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I do want to get rid of my second home, my Range Rover, all the trappings of my super rich life. Oh, wait a minute… I don't have any of those things. But still a recent Harvard Business online posting by John Quelch, a professor at the school and a non-executive director at WPP Group, makes a point. There's a new consumer out there he terms the middle-aged Simplifier. She (and he does write ‘she') is ready to toss out the tangible conspicuous consumption lifestyle and embrace the ephemeral and experiential.

Quelch lists four characteristics:

  • They have more than they need and want to simplify
  • They want to collect experiences rather than stuff
  • Their stuff doesn't really define them
  • They're really rich and don't need to show it

The first three out of the four are the characteristics Carol Orsborn and I use to describe the “actualized” boomer. You can read more about this in an excerpt from her book, Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer: The Baby Boomer Woman. You can be actualized or “simplify” at any age. It depends on your stage of adult development and the personal experiences that got you there.

Finally, Quelch makes a great point about marketing to the super rich who “value quality over quantity.” Their increasing reluctance to consume means marketers will need to focus their efforts on emerging markets where consumerism is still king, Quelch says. I say it also provides tremendous opportunities here at home. Check out the 1-800-GOT-JUNK Web site for franchising. Or for us marketers, focus on quality over quantity.

Eileen Marcus, senior partner, Fleishman-Hillard, and chair of FH Boom, a global practice focused on marketing to Boomers

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