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Companies spend a lot of time studying up on baby boomers, Generations X and Y, knowing that these younger generations make up the bulk of their consumers. Through a mix of offline and online advertising and marketing techniques, companies come up with campaigns designed to reach these consumers and keep them coming back for more.
But long before the 78-million-strong baby boomer generation became the apple of every marketing professional’s eye, the spotlight was on the Greatest Generation (born 1901 to 1925) and the pre-boomers (1925 to 1945). Currently aged 64 and older, these generations make up a significant segment of the population that’s often bypassed in favor of younger demographics.
“Overlooking the older generations is a big mistake,” says Bob Yallen, president and COO at Encino, California-based InterMedia Advertising, a direct response and general market ad agency, “but to do it successfully requires a targeted, well-thought-out approach.”
Here are five strategies to use when crafting your marketing plan:
Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. Companies get themselves into trouble when they assume mature consumers will respond to advertising and marketing efforts aimed at younger generations, says Yallen, who suggests a targeted approach to older consumers. When developing your campaign, for example, remember that Generation Y’ers are tech-savvy and impulsive, but their grandparents take a more calculated and traditional approach when shopping for products and services.
Incorporate technology into your plan. Don’t be afraid to use technology when targeting pre-boomers and the ‘Greatest Generation,’ says Yallen, who points out that more older Americans are integrating the Internet, email and social networking into their lives. “Five years ago these folks didn’t surf the Web, but today they’re using many of the same tech tools that younger generations are using,” Yallen explains. After viewing an ad on television, for example, today’s pre-boomer would likely boot up his her computer, log onto the company’s Website, and surf around for more information about its products and/or services.
Hit the TV airwaves. Because older generations “grew up” on television and obtained much of their knowledge from this medium, they tend to watch it more than anyone else. News-oriented stations like Fox News, MSNBC and CNN rank among the older generation’s favorites, says Yallen, who adds that Americans over the age of 65 make up 46 percent of the television viewing audience. “Television was their teacher, babysitter and friend,” says Don Potter, a Pre-Boomer himself and a marketing consultant in Los Angeles. “This makes TV an especially good vehicle for companies that are courting older consumers.”