Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Boomers Are A Booming Business - Why Boomers

Boomers are people just like you and me.

Boomers are a prime and growing target audience. Does your product speak to them? Does your product’s packaging compel them to buy it? If not, you are missing a very important market segment. According to Rick Adler, founder of The Senior Network: "Simply based on population growth trends, if a product is marketed to the 50-plus audience and maintains its market share, it should increase in sales by 35 to 50 percent in the next 20 years. Conversely, a brand targeted at the zero to 50 age groups will be flat in sales."

Do you know these important facts?

· Americans age 50-plus control $7 trillion, or 70% of all US wealth.

· The 50-plus group brings in $2 trillion in annual income that they want to and are willing to spend.

· One baby boomer turns 50 every 7 seconds of every day. Do a little calculating here about this market size? Think of all the boomers that you know besides me.

· With 76 million U.S. boomers in command of today’s buying decisions, the potential for profit and growth from this group is enormous.

· AARP estimates 54 million baby boomers will be between the ages of 50 and 64 by 2010.

· 90 million Americans will be age 50 or greater in 2010.

Here are some other interesting points about boomers that can influence your product packaging.

Boomers could still be parents or even grandparents and be in their 50s. This means they cross the gamut in their relationships with their families and can influence or are influenced by their purchasing decisions.

Boomers could still be working or in the early stages of retirement. Whatever the circumstances they don't see themselves as old. Most plan to work until retirement age. Many are starting new business ventures.

While boomers are still working they have the same convenience and lifestyle issues as other working families.

What this means to you is growth can come from unlikely areas. Markets that were once strong have become so diluted they have become unprofitable. Explore boomer product introductions in any category and look for new product innovations in all types of markets. See what can crossover into the health and beauty market.

Boomers view themselves as younger than they are (typically by 20 years). I can identify with this, I see myself in my thirties even though I’m well into the boomer years.

Boomers live active lifestyles and travel and mobility is high on their list. So think logically. Develop packages and products that go where the boomers go or are available where they travel ….. spas and resorts are an untapped opportunity. And most recently hotels with the added treat of airport security.

Gone are the days of over 50 being considered close to the end of life. Life expectancy is expanding. Boomers love discounts and don't feel at all intimidated in asking for them.

Regarding couponing -- if the deal is attractive enough will appeal to them. Example: Buy one meal and get one free or at a discount. They are not however coupon clippers.

Boomers grew up with TV so they understand advertising. The key is to choose the right message though the right medium. Packaging is a large part of the mechanism to reach them. Mainstream advertising is dying and packaging should step up to the plate to take its place.

Boomers are not children of the depression like their parents were. They expect lifestyles better than their parents and are willing to spend to make it happen. They want and can afford products that make them look or feel better. Hence the enormous potential of look good and feel good products especially in the cosmetics and wellness sector.

Boomers are connected. They are comfortable with technology and using the Internet. So don’t overlook the online market in fact this is one of the fastest growing markets for packaged goods especially for women.

More thoughts to keep in mind when packaging products to the over 50 market:

Consider all the products that can reach an active lifestyle. Again: Simply based on population growth trends, if a product is marketed to the 50-plus audience, and maintains its market share, it should increase in sales by 35 to 50 percent in the next 20 years.

Don't look at boomers as an aggregate mass. Even within the boomer segment, there are differences in the age brackets. Some are just entering that age bracket such as me and yet others could be octogenarians.

Don't assume the 50+ are brand loyal. They grew up on branding but are willing to make a change after careful consideration. Give them the facts and show how your product or service will make their lives better.

Brand loyalty can and will be changed especially when a product fails to fulfill a boomer’s expectations.

Don't hype or over exaggerate claims. This has a negative effect, not a positive one. If the claim is legitimate you will have a believer, one that will tell others about the product, but conversely if the claim is false they will tell even more people about their bad experience.

Use images boomers can relate to. Studies have shown that tapping into the "hey days" of the boomers' earlier lives don't always work. But boomers are nostalgic so do evoke positive memories, but also connect to their current life styles. Make your packaging relate to the audience though visual images or appeal and reflect their view of themselves.

Whether you use the word, "boomer," "senior over 50," or "aging," this age group doesn't want to be referred to as old. No "over the hill" context. Use words that are not considered negative. In a recent survey I conducted, the words "golden," "aging" and "elder" were disliked. More about this later in the presentation.

Sell Boomers the experience and the benefits that come in using your product or service. Lifestyle issues are important. Boomers expect to live well so conveying this in your product will create relevance.

Boomers are spending money to treat themselves luxury.

Go where the Boomers go. Reach out to them in places where there is a high level of comfort. When working on my survey I found out that even though boomers were connected to the Internet some of them just weren’t comfortable with online surveys. They wanted to complete them on paper not electronically.

Keep this in mind when developing your product packaging. Emphasize convenience or ease-of-use. Boomers are busy people--making their lives easier or more simplified is important. They like to spend time on activities together. They just don’t want to spend a lot of time.

What this means is products need to be simple to use or ready with minimal preparation time. The easier you make someone’s life, the more loyal the will become to your product. Use language that connects with Boomers. In most cases they are literate and informed. Communicate with them as such. Hip hop and other “in style" messages create a negative image rather than a positive one.

Stress the values that boomers appreciate. Connect both intellectually and emotionally. “Engage” their interest in purchasing your product.

Boomers don't respond well to scare tactics. They are turned off with the threat, "If you don't do this it will be to your detriment." So no “scary” product description words.

Use role models or visuals that represent the audience. Having a 20 year old touting the latest product benefits means nothing. Conversely, having a 50+ year old speaking to her daughter or granddaughter creates relevance.

Boomers are in the prime of their life.

Under no circumstances should we refer to this market as old, over the hill aging, ancient or any similar nomenclature.

Keep the packages easy to use and open. In some cases this can’t be helped but look for innovative new ways to make it easier for boomers to open.

Save your money on celebrity endorsements but keep in mind support from age related groups such as AARP

Make sure the labels are easy to read so they know what's inside. In this case bigger is better.

Keep it simple and easy to use.

They are tough crowd but easy to sell once you understand the parameters.

However you reach out and connect with boomers, it's important to visualize them as vital, active people. Eliminate the old stereotypes that we grew up with of people over the age of 50. Create relevance by using images of people who realize they have the best years of their lives ahead of them.

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