Marketers across all industries are looking for a shorthand method of understanding today’s Boomer Consumer. Intuitively, marketers know it is unrealistic to group 76 million Boomers into one overreaching archetype or single-minded characteristic. All Boomers are different. But like all generations, they seem to share a set of similar core traits, formed when they came of age back in the late 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s.
In our work we’ve learned that Boomers on the whole are Driven, Transformational, and “Self” Centered.
- Boomers are Driven. Think rock band Queen: “I want it all and I want it now.” Boomers want control and they want immediate satisfaction.
- Boomers are Transformational. They make change happen; they won’t accept the status quo.
- Boomers are “Self” Centered. They believe in entitlement and personal gratification. Their main question is, “What’s in it for me?” Raised as the center of their home universe, Boomers can thank Dr. Spock and their parents for this focus on themselves. In comparison, consider latch-key Generation Xers and their self-image. Many had to deal with both Mom and Dad working or single-parent homes while they were growing up. They are self-reliant and independent. Very different from Boomers.
This framework is a good starting point in understanding the large and dynamic Boomer generation.
Boomers Are 76 Million Individuals
Those generational traits offer a simple lens through which you can view other factors that complete the big picture of today’s Boomer Consumer. Not all Boomers are created equal, though, and it would be a mistake to see them as a homogeneous group.
When you have any population of 76 million (roughly Canada, Australia, Cuba and Chile combined), you’re going to have incredible diversity and differences. Yes, some Boomers like snow skiing and knitting and French food and social media and duck hunting and just about anything else you can think of. But not all Boomers do.
Reporters and editors have needed a short-cut to identify who they’re talking about, so they just use “Boomers” as a catch-all term for people currently in their late 40s, 50s and early 60s. Ultimately, this is a disservice to marketers who, although they can tap into the shared history and culture of Boomers, must also recognize that Boomers are at various life stages and live a variety of lifestyles. Any effort treating Boomers as one-size-fits-all will fail.
Some marketers do grasp the diverse nature of today’s Boomers. For example, for the last few years Carnival Cruises has been running a TV and print campaign showing the different things one can experience on a cruise, summing up the message with the line “At any one moment there are a million ways to have fun.” Carnival understands that Boomers come in all shape and sizes, and doesn’t try to force them into a single definition of what to do while on a cruise.
Another example is a recent ad for tourism in Panama that states, “One beautiful country. Ten inviting destinations.” The ad then lists the 10 distinct areas within Panama, from beaches to rain forests to cities. The marketers understand that Boomers will look over the list to see what’s of interest to them, and will ignore the other, less relevant places.
Articles, news stories and features about “Boomers” may give the mistaken impression of a single collective of 76 million. But to engage Boomers today, they should be segmented like any “Adults” audience — by income, education, values, attitude, geography, life stage, and so forth.
Over the past few days, I’ve seen enough Michael Jackson clips and specials to choke a horse, as the saying goes.
But even though Michael was known for his dance movies, it was the radio that brought him and his brothers to the national spotlight. Is that true today? Take a look (from Mediapost):
Nielsen: Radio Still Tops With Teens Erik Sass, Jun 29, 2009 05:46 PM
| Teenagers around the world still rank radio as one of their most important sources of music, according to a new study from Nielsen touted by radio broadcasters. But there is no denying the growing impact of new media, including MP3 players and computers on their listening habits.
In terms of radio listening, Nielsen found that 16% of teenagers around the world consider radio their “primary source” of music, with another 21% identifying it as a “secondary source” of music. But the numbers lag far behind MP3 players, identified by 39% of teenagers as a primary source of music, and computers, garnering 33% of teen preference.
Indeed, the Nielsen study ended up damning radio with faint praise. For example, Nielsen’s observation that “teens may find themselves in older cars not yet equipped to play from their MP3 player” hardly inspires confidence, suggesting a residual audience held in place by technical limitations that will eventually be lifted.
Likewise, Nielsen’s assertion that “radio still serves as an information source for local social happenings of extra relevance to teens” describes a function that is marginal to radio’s overall business, and also an easy target for disintermediation by online media.
In terms of online media behavior, Nielsen found teens are actually online a great deal less than adults, overall, spending an average of about 11.5 hours per month on the Web, versus a national average of 29.25 hours per month. This was attributed to competing time demands for school, work, and recreation, which translates into less consumption of online video as well.
On the other hand, teens are avid consumers of mobile video, spending 6.5 hours a month watching mobile downloads and streams, versus a national average of about 3.6 hours.
The trend lines for radio’s teen and young adult demos are hard to get a handle on. Last year, Arbitron found that 90% of people ages 12-17 still listened to radio at least once a week. The number increased to 93% among adults ages 18-23. In another heartening result, Arbitron found that radio reached 95% of college graduates ages 25-54 every week. Stations affiliated with networks reached 85% of college graduates ages 18-49.
Conversely, the average amount of time spent listening to the radio is down significantly, dropping 5% from 19 hours and 32 minutes in 2007 to 18 hours and 30 minutes in 2008. The decline in average time spent listening is due, in part, to the growing popularity of MP3 players and iPods, as well as non-radio audio delivered via the Internet.
In June 2008, Coleman Insights found that daily radio listening by teenagers was on the downswing, losing share to the new media options. Specifically, Coleman found that 84% of the 14-17 cohort listen to music daily on an MP3 player, iPod or computer, versus 78% for radio. A second Coleman study found that the 15-17 cohort favors iPods and MP3 players as primary destinations for listening to music–with 41% choosing the personal devices, compared to just 22% for FM radio. Also, Edison Media Research found that college graduates ages 25-54 listen to radio significantly less than their counterparts without college degrees.
Based on Arbitron’s paper diary ratings from spring 2007, Edison found that weekly listening among the 25-54, non-college grads was 21 hours and 15 minutes; for college grads, it was just 15 hours and 45 minutes–a difference of five-and-a-half hours, or 26% less than the non-college total.
Make a “You-Turn” to Sell More
by Anne Miller
Which would you rather look at: pictures of my friends and family, or pictures of your friends and family?
Let me take a wild guess––you would prefer to see the latter. You know your friends and family. You relate to them. You have feelings about them. You “see” yourself with them. You have none of these reactions or connections to pictures of the people in my world.
In selling or presenting an argument, every time you say, “I / We have…” “I / We do…” “I / We can…” or “I / We think…”, you are, in effect, forcing your listeners to “look at your pictures.” This creates no particular emotional reaction in them and little inclination to buy what you are selling. Presenting everything from your point of view makes you guilty of “I-Strain.”
Make a “You-Turn”
People care about what they get, not what you have. They get excited by the pictures they see in their minds, not the pictures you see in yours.
Next time you speak with a prospect, change your pronouns from a speaker to a listener focus. Here are some examples:
“You’ll like how easy it is to implement” vs. “Our programs are easy to implement.”
“As you look at the chart, [you] notice how consistent the growth has been in all markets.” vs. “I want to point out how consistent the growth,…”
“Something you’ll find particularly interesting is how you will be able to… vs. “I think it is particularly interesting that our process lets people…”
“Clients [implied is ‘like you] are able to double their…” vs. “We produce very good ROI on…”
“You may be wondering, how does this work?” vs. “Let me tell you how this works.
“In summary, working with ABC, “you’ll get…, …, and… to meet your objectives.” vs. “In summary, WYZ (my firm) has….,…., and … which makes us your best choice.”
The power of “You”
Pronouns matter. “You” draws people into what you’re saying. It gets them seeing themselves using your product or service. It fires up their imagination as to the possibilities of your offer. Bottom line, the pronoun “you” makes a huge difference in how your buyers receive what you are saying.
At first, making “you-turns” may feel a bit unnatural as you are no doubt very proud of your product or service to help clients and you want to share that enthusiasm. However, like anything else, the more you practice it, the easier it gets, until it becomes totally automatic.
Try it, you’ll like it
On your next phone or in-person call, make more “you-turns.” You’ll notice how much more receptive your listener will be. You’ll feel more connected to your listener. You’ll have a much easier time moving forward in the sale cycle.
Anne Miller is a popular sales and presentations expert and author of the book, Metaphorically Selling: How to Use the Magic of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, & Explain Anything to Anyone. She works with people in high stakes situations and clients like Yahoo!, Citigroup, and Time, Inc. to sell millions of dollars of business every year. Visit her site at www.AnneMiller.com.
I don’t recall how I first discovered Alan Majer… but I receive his daily sales tips in my email each day and I’ve used them on occasion as a contributor to the daily sales training I post on this site at 6am, 7 days a week.
I also follow him on Twitter and urge you to do the same if you are in sales and on Twitter.
Welcome Alan to the select group of contributors to Collective Wisdom…
Consumers Plan to Come Out of Hiding for 4th of July
Celebrations Rise as Holiday Falls on Weekend; Gas Prices May Impact Plans
Even in the midst of an economic downturn, Americans plan to show their patriotism and are making big plans for July 4.
According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more people will celebrate the July 4 holiday this year than last year. With the holiday falling on a Saturday, many Americans are planning a memorable celebration: 62.6 percent — or 144 million people — will host or attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic, compared to 61.2 percent (139 million people) in 2008.
The survey also found that more people will attend their local fireworks or community celebration (42.7 percent vs. 40.2 percent in 2008). Other popular celebrations include attending a parade (11.5 percent) or traveling/taking a vacation (11.4 percent).
“Americans are ready to kick-start summer and celebrate Independence Day,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers will be stocked with supplies for every celebration, from large family cookouts to trips to the beach.”
When it comes to the patriotic merchandise consumers already own, 121 million Americans own an American flag, 89 million have patriotic apparel, 58 million own decorations and 25 million have bumper stickers or car decals. According to the survey, 14 percent of consumers plan to purchase additional patriotic merchandise.
Though gas prices are still far below last year’s levels, a recent uptick in costs is causing some Americans to reconsider their plans. According to the survey, 44.5 percent of Americans will change their Independence Day plans on account of higher gas prices.
“With July 4 falling on Saturday this year, many Americans will use the holiday as the perfect excuse to relax with family and friends,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “With gas prices on the rise again, some Americans will opt to spend the weekend close to home, taking advantage of neighborhood gatherings and local celebrations.”
As part of its latest survey, the National Retail Federation also asked consumers if they were doing any of the following activities as a result of fluctuating gas prices: Taking fewer shopping trips, 42.9 percent; shopping for sales more often, 42.6 percent; shopping closer to home, 40.4 percent; using coupons more often, 39.6 percent; buying more store brand/generic products, 34.1 percent; doing more comparative shopping with ad circulars/newspapers, 32.0 percent; doing more comparative shopping online, 24.3 percent; shopping more online, 14.0 percent.
(Source: National Retail Federation, 06/22/09)