A half century has passed since I was in high school; it feels like no more than a decade ago. In my mind, several images of the ‘60s remain vivid – the assassination of a young US President, a man walking on the moon, a war in southeast Asia, the civil rights movement, a band from Liverpool, California girls, and the discovery of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. I am one of 80 million born between 1946 and 1964 in Canada and the United States of America. We are baby boomers. We are a generation that is not old. We are bold.

Boldly, Boomers Changed the World

We changed the world because our values refused to accept injustice. We protested against war, discrimination, and censorship. Without us, America would never have elected a black-skinned President with a foreign name, nor would dozens of nations throughout the world have elected female Prime Ministers and Presidents.

Encouraged by parents and grandparents who suffered the hardships of two world wars, we worked to better ourselves. In their minds, ‘doing better’ meant earning a good living. That became our modus operandi. Along the way, we contemplated the virtue of that notion, drawing our own conclusions. Either way, we grew independent and blazed a trail of social and economic change.

Boomers Accept Consumerism because We Grew Up with It

By 2017 demographers expect boomers to constitute half of the US population. That represents a marvelous marketing opportunity because we boomers continue to embrace the premise of consumerism that we grew up in. Not only do we have an attachment to materialistic values and possessions, we believe that the increased consumption of goods and services is favorable. This mindset makes us ripe for marketers.

Boomers are Ripe for Problem/Solution Marketing

Today, boomers fight old age every inch of the way. We live our lives by the simple mantra of “use it or you lose it.” Yes, we have our insecurities. That’s the tipping point for savvy marketers. The theme is all too familiar, because as a young Brand Manager, I pounced on consumer insecurities, pumping products that solved bad breath, foul armpit odor, yellow teeth and bad skin. That was the heyday of problem/solution brands such as Scope Mouthwash, Ban Deodorant, Ultra Brite Toothpaste, and Clearasil Cream. Boomer insecurities range from thinning hair, droopy skin, wrinkles around the eyes and dysfunction below the belt. Some marketers are already on to us. Harley-Davidson invites us to relive the two-wheel freedom of the sixties on their iconic motorcycles. They know we can well afford it. So do the makers of Viagra and Cialis.

Companies who fulfill our lifestyle goals with products and services will reap long-term economic rewards from a mass of loyalists eager to pay premium prices. But, one word of advice to marketers from this boomer – don’t you dare mention age in your persuasion.

 

 

 

About John R. Bell

John R. Bell is a retired consumer packaged goods CEO, a former global strategy consultant, and the author of Do Less Better. The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World. A prolific blogger, John’s musings on strategy, leadership, and branding appear in several online journals including Fortune and Forbes.

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