Baby Boomers are an accomplished and powerful group – here’s how to build trust and loyalty with them.
Everyone is keen on getting in with Millennials, and for good reason: they’re the future of spending and influence. As valuable as they are though, much of the bets we’re all making on them won’t pay off for a while. Meanwhile, many are ignoring the group that controls as much as 70% of disposable income: Baby Boomers.
They’re dedicated, loyal, and consistent, and they’ll stand by brands that prove their worth. With them controlling. Yet, every day 11,000 of them turn 65 in the US, and over a third of them already rely on social security benefits to get by.
Take a snapshot of Boomers when they were in their 20s and 30s, and you’d see that they have much in common with Millennials. They were optimistic, idealistic, rebellious. They led the civil rights movement, landed on the moon and dropped acid at Woodstock. They were also spoiled and placed in position to succeed by the hard work of their parents, and they took advantage of the opportunity.
The result? The modern corporate world, over which they are now rulers. They have clout and control, and many of them are still content to continue working (while others have no choice).
So what can businesses do to win their hearts and minds (and not just their wallets)? Here are eight characteristics and general ideas that will attract and retain this still very-relevant sector of society.
What are Boomers? They’re…
Reliable – This is a generation raised on the principles of doing what you’re paid to do, and doing it well. Companies can learn much from this by closely aligning their branding with their product capabilities. In normal speak: promise responsibly.
Relational – Like Millennials, Boomers are hip to social media, except their primary uses involveconnecting with family & friends. This makes social spots such as Facebook important and a good forum for family-centric content and giveaways. Bonus tip: Personalization works for any generation. Use first names where possible – bonus points for titles, such as Dr.
Hard Working – This is the generation that created the 60 hour work week and lived to work. They’re working to live at this point, but they still believe in pushing hard at whatever it is they’re doing. This behavior lends itself to learning, and an opportunity for a business to create educational content. To borrow a tip from our engagement eBook, this is a generation that you want to be absolute experts at using your product.
Loyal – Older Boomers generally won’t waste their time trying out new products or services if they have one that works. The application is simple: recognize this segment and show them your appreciation, either through loyalty programs or simple rewards programs.
Consistency –Similar to the above, people who are getting on in age have an appreciation for surprise, but they don’t necessarily look to brands for those surprises. Brands should communicate consistency in their messaging, reminding customers what the brand has done for them. If there’s an actual physical product, special marketing should be built around the typical lifetime expiration of the product so customers are primed to purchase once again.
Accomplished –Boomers take as much pride in what they’ve done for their companies and communities as they do in their personal achievements. Gamification is a type of tactic that would work well with this group, as well as being able to see how their efforts are helping a greater cause. Marketing that emphasizes gaining an edge on their guy next door could also hit home with Boomers.
Competitive – You don’t change the business world the way Boomers have without an edge and a unique resourcefulness. Use this to your advantage through contests and appealing for their desire to win. If you never considered Boomers for that “user generated content” campaign, think again.
Prideful – And we don’t mean that in a bad way. When your generation produces Elvis, civil rights, Beatlemania, the space program, the Fonz, hippies and more, you’ve got a reason to feel good about what you’ve done. Brands should empower this generation by reminding them of their greatness and the greatness yet to come from them. The question to answer is how can your brand help them continue to change the world?
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice some recurring themes between Millennials and Boomers – recognition, pride, social media and social change. Both have unique traits they look for in brands, but connecting with them on an emotional level can produce a lifetime of unabashed loyalty.
Does Gen X follow suit? We’ll take a look at them next.
I love movies targeted at today’s Baby Boomers and the G.I. Generation. I was first in the box-office line for Last Vegas (2013), Red (2010), Solitary Man (2009), Gran Torino (2008), Calendar Girls (2003), and Space Cowboys (2000), all of which star actors age 60 or older. As for television, I religiously watched William Shatner, James Spader, and Candice Bergen lawyer up in ABC’s Boston Legal (2004-08). And I firmly stood by TNT’s Men of a Certain Age (2009-11) from its brilliant premiere all the way to its premature end.
What’s more, if a movie involves middle-aged (and older) characters in romantic relationships, I’m especially engrossed. Aside from Cocoon (1985), which I’ve not seen (I don’t do sci-fi), I could recommend Hope Springs (2012), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), It’s Complicated (2009), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), As Good As it Gets (1997), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) Terms of Endearment (1993), On Golden Pond (1981), and The African Queen (1951). It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m waiting to see And So It Goes (2014), starring boomers Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas.
Theoretically, I shouldn’t be this fond of “old people porn,” as one of my colleagues labels it. After all, the films are neither written nor produced for my demographic. I’m a member of Generation X, child of Baby Boomers and grandchild of the G.I. Generation. But I find satisfaction in these cinematic stories, and so should others. Here’s why:
First, movies targeted at today’s Baby Boomers (and beyond) offer a reprieve from Hollywood’s usual fare. By their very nature, boomer films unabashedly abandon the coveted 18-39 age demographic Hollywood has so desperately tried to harness since the late 1960s, when films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Graduate (1967), and Easy Rider (1969) attracted young audiences in droves (those flocking filmgoers were boomers, by the way).
Devoted to topics like widowhood, long-term marriage, and the potential erosion of one’s sexuality, these films often break the rules. And rule-breaking is a good thing here since it offers fresh perspectives usually denied the filmgoing public. So, yes, it should be satisfying–to all conscientious audiences–when unconventional movies (and TV series) slip through the industry’s white, male, youth-obsessed cogs, and succeed both critically and financially.
Second, films directed toward older adults lay bare the aging process, and for a culture obsessed with youth, this is valuable. I am delighted to watch on a 30-foot screen characters with real faces, real bodies, real wrinkles. I embrace the laugh lines on Judi Dench, the leathery skin of Tommy Lee Jones, and the wispy gray hair atop Clint Eastwood. Each is a welcome change from films starring apes, incompetent cops, and transformers.
In addition to real faces and bodies, I also enjoy seeing actors bring their lived experiences to the roles. Audiences witness this, for example, in some of the quieter moments of Jack Nicholson’s performance in Something’s Gotta Give.
At 66, Nicholson asserted that his portrayal of aging playboy Harry Sanborn in Something’s Gotta Give–specific gestures he gave, line delivery, the way he looked at Diane Keaton’s character–were much more personal and more natural than anything he’d performed previously, and it shows onscreen.
“There were certain things I did in this movie that [were like] something I’d do in my own life. There was vulnerability and a direct approach in a lot of these scenes that when I would do them (and I wasn’t prepared for this) and I’d be done with the scene, I’d think ‘Wow, I don’t think that I’ve ever really done that on film before.’ Simple things, as I say, that are not foreign to me.”
“Their appearance and expressions convey so much of the actors’ real-life experience, humor, and knowledge to their characters that, when the film was criticized for confusing autobiography with fiction, the consensus was that the blurring of fact and fiction was one of the pleasures of the movie” (104).
This line-blurring does make Something’s Gotta Give pleasurable, but so does the fact that the aging process–via references to menopause, the fear of losing one’s masculinity, and the joy of finding one’s real self in later life–is so openly represented.
Third, because their characters have considerable life experience, films made for Baby Boomers often lend themselves to three-dimensional stories and provocative themes. Of course, films centered on young(er) stars can include complex characters. Look at many of Spike Lee’s early joints, for example, or Taxi Driver (1976) or Boyz in the Hood (1991) or Kill Bill (2003, 2004). These cinematic works include some of the most layered young-adult characters ever put to film.
Also, this is not to say that onscreen representations of today’s Baby Boomers or the G.I. Generation aren’t stereotyped. They can be. In films in which they’re featured, boomers have been the butts of jokes (e.g., Donald Sutherland’s character in Space Cowboys), billboards for health-related problems (e.g., Nicholson’s and Morgan Freeman’s characters in The Bucket List), and even embodiments of mayhem (e.g., John Malkovich’s character in Red). As a result, some of these film’s themes are rendered simplistic as well.
But this is not always the case. It’s Complicated, while not a consistently solid screenplay, offers complex views on the finality of middle-age divorce. Hope Springs looks deeply at issues that arise within a 40-year marriage (monotony, loneliness, giving oral sex). Calendar Girls explores head-on how Western culture devalues the middle-aged woman’s changing body. Finally, About Schmidt (2002) considers unexpected widowerhood and raises existential questions throughout. For example, Jack Nicholson’s character wonders, “Relatively soon, I will die. […] What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all.”
Films like these that challenge the norm, represent aging actively, and depict thought-provoking characters and themes shouldn’t appeal just to Baby Boomers and the G.I. Generation. Rather, they convey to all of us that although aging is inevitable, maturation can still be productive and every generation has worthwhile stories to tell.
Barre… A different kind of happy hour. You may have been afraid to tap your toe into this fitness trend, but don’t be intimidated by the tutu. Barre isn’t just ballet, it’s fused with Pilates and yoga for a total body workout.
Barre Class might be for you if…
You’re not really a runner or fasten a jazz belt for step aerobics. In fact, you prefer no impact what so ever. You want to exit class sweaty, panting, and fully trained from eyeballs to toenails. If you’ve always wanted a dancer’s body, sign up for Barre. It’s a hyperactive ballet barre routine that requires no previous dance technique. The exercises lengthen and tone while burning fat and working the joints gingerly.
What to expect…
The class warms up before increasing intensity with absolutely zero impact. Most exercises target a specific muscle group with a tiny movement. The added challenge is to maintain body placement while working the targeted muscle. You’ll stay the barre for legs, glutes, and a light cardio portion, using your own body weight. Some exercises utilize a playground ball while others step away from the barre to incorporate light weights for upper body sculpting. The class typically ends on the floor with Pilates inspired abs, inner and outer thighs, before finishing with a much-deserved stretch.
Don’t be intimidated…
It’s definitely NOT a dancer’s only club. The instructor keeps the energy going and motivation up while giving helpful corrections and noting targeted muscles to insure proper execution. After just one class you’ll feel lifted, sculpted and above all, worked out from head to toe. Barre Class is a ballet boot camp worth checking out. See you at the barre!