PR failing to reach 'baby boomers'

We're a unique generation. We ended a war (or so we think); we were foot soldiers in the civil rights, women's rights, and environmental movements.

We're a unique generation. We ended a war (or so we think); we were foot soldiers in the civil rights, women's rights, and environmental movements. We've never acted our age (in fact, we refuse to age) and now we're starting to retire, but not in the traditional sense. And, did I mention that we have significantly more disposable in-come than the 18- to 35-year-old marketer's dream demographic?

So how are you going to market to us? Do you have a plan? Are you paying attention? According to some estimates, there are more than 77 million baby boomers with over $3 trillion in buying power. We are arguably the biggest, richest, and most active group of "seniors" in history.

In preparing your marketing plan, there are some things you should know about us that go beyond statistics. First and foremost, we will defy your expectations. We will work longer than previous generations. Even in retirement, we will remain active. Give us a good product or service, and we will be more loyal consumers than the 18 to 35 group.

We are not afraid of change. We are less predictable than our parents and each of us believes we are a market of one. Don't generalize us; pinpoint marketing is crucial. And the most important fact to remember - the world has always changed to meet our needs. We don't expect that to change.

The reality is that if you're going to expand your business, you will have to devise a marketing strategy that considers our generation. So how do you do that?

Don't clump us with the 18 to 35 group. While we might think of ourselves as kids, we're not. We're grown-ups; we've been through a lot and matured through the process. While we might fantasize about being 20 again, we know we're not. The cliches and gimmicks that work with a younger demographic won't work with us.

Many marketing professionals believe that consumer brand preferences are solidified by age 40. Not true. We are willing to try something new. Remember, we grew up in a time of unlimited possibilities and experimentation. Give us a reason to try something new and exciting, we will.

While some of us are retiring, others are working longer than ever. But even those of us who are choosing to retire are finding new ways to stay involved. We might undertake second careers; we might choose to give back to society and get involved in social causes and nonprofits. The one thing the majority of us are not doing is just closing up shop and retreating to the beach or the golf course. By staying involved, our minds are staying active, our instincts sharp, and our willingness to grow and learn remains alive. Your marketing message must address this phenomenon.

We want to live longer and healthier than previous generations. We are very health-conscious, whether that means we eat better, go to gyms, or look for the edge (and I don't mean the Barry Bonds edge).

Right now, the advertising industry has done a better job than PR in identifying the so-called boomer generation. The challenge remains for PR to formulate plans to reach this influential, product-driven, and dollar-rich group.

Michael Lissauer recently retired from Business Wire. He was EVP of marketing and business strategy.

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