‘It’s not about what your grandma likes’: Why brands don’t understand Baby Boomers

Brands need a “multi-group task force” and agencies need to stop thinking about what their “grandma likes” to communicate with Baby Boomers, warned Kaye Fallick, publisher of YourLifeChoices.

Fallick told an audience at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit Baby Boomers felt “disconnected from the financial conversation”, and added focus groups weren’t working as well as they should be.

Fallick (second from left) is tired of hearing what people’s grandmothers likes

“There isn’t a very comprehensive diagnosis of what retirement looks like,” she said.

“There’s a lot of pretty pictures of couples with silver hair, going on a cruise ship clinking champagne glasses, but when you look at the real numbers, that’s just not what’s happening.

“There are focus groups but they don’t seem to be doing a very good job.”

When asked for a solution to better understanding Baby Boomers, Fallick said while focus groups “have their place”, a “multi-age group task force” was needed to look at strategy and content that will cut through to the audience.

“Old people don’t want to be told they’re old, they want you to talk about a topic,” she said. “Often when I’m talking at agency level, people look deep in my eyes and start telling me about their grandmother.

“It’s not about what your grandma likes, it’s about what a person in specific life stage and financial situation might need and that person might have as much to do with Tim’s [Tim Duggan, publisher, Junkee Media] young people – they might be renting, they might be cash strapped, and they might want to go on a cheap holiday to Bali.

“We need a multi-age group task force to think about what the problem is, what the strategy is and what kind of material will cut through.”

“We wouldn’t ask a panel of 6 0to 70 year olds to market Coca-Cola to Millennials”

Fallick added Baby Boomers were “largely disengaged” particularly with financial services, because “few advertisers” were addressing the “very real concerns of people going into retirement”.

“Just to throw it out there, we wouldn’t ask a panel of 60 to 70 year olds to market Coca-Cola to Millennials,” she said.

“And yet on a daily basis, we have people aged 20-40 creating the images, messaging and the productions for aged 50 to 70.”

She noted while there was a case for Baby Boomers marketing Coca-Cola – because they had been young before – it did not make sense for younger generations to market products to the 50 to 70 age demographic.

Ben Hourahine, strategy partner at AnalogFolk, added segmentation according to age and marketing buzzwords was a “disservice” to marketers and agencies.

Hourahine: Segmentation a “disservice”

Commenting on Gen X – “the sandwich generation” – Hourahine said one message did not fit all.

We have so much data and so much information that for us to go back and groupings distinct attitudes, distinct portfolios is doing us a bit of a disservice,” he told the audience.

“These groups work very well in marketing publications and in buzzwords, but if you actually looked at the correlation between the Gen X group, and the similarities in their financial portfolio and their needs, would it be that strong? I’m not so sure.”

In order to avoid “slabbing” Baby Boomers together, Fallick spoke about six retirement tribes as a way to learn how to tailor information for the age demographic.

“We partnered with the Australia Institute in March and created six retirement tribes in an effort to stop just slabbing this group of people together so that is defined by income, by couple or single, and by whether you own your own home or renter.

“Old people don’t want to be told they’re old, they want you to talk about a topic.”

She said starting events, such as YourLifeChoices’ two retirement boot camps this year – will help marketers have better conversations.

“Marketing – its intergenerational…so show as we are, not the old couple out on a limb, isolated.”

Also in the session, Tim Duggan, publisher at Junkee Media, said the history of being around for a long time – something of great value to financial services – was not important to Millennials.

“Year after year the most important quality that young Australians live for is a quality product, the second-most-important thing is acting ethically and with integrity, and the least important thing is having the history of being around for a long time,” he said.

Brands need to stop interrupting what people are interested in, says Duggan (centre)

“Financial services in particular, the fact they’ve been around for a long time is part of the core of who they are and that might resonate really well with people who want security, but young Australians just want the app to work, they want to be fast.”

Commenting on ways to find out more about Millennials, Duggan told the audience to be more relevant and interesting.

“How do you find what people are interested in? Do research, speak to experts, once you find what they are interested in, then you create content for them, you create ads for them, sometime ads are content – the whole thing is blurring.

“The philosophy we live and die by is that brands need to stop interrupting what people are interested in, and actually be what people are interested in.”


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