Edit and place AARP Media Sales op-ed in Mediapost

Marketers And Boomers, BFFs Once Again?

by Mark Bradbury, Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 7:45 AM

Some things are destined to be together. No matter how often they part ways, they find their way back. Carrie and Big. The Lakers and Celtics. Sandra Bullock and... well, Carrie and Big.

Now, thanks to the recession, you can add mainstream marketers and baby boomers to that list. And the implications of this reunion go far beyond growing corporate bottom lines.

After nearly 50 years as marketers' darlings, boomers lost favor over the last decade, slipping through the cracks of target demos as they hit age 50. Call it oversight. Call it the 50 year itch. But call it old news.

Companies have felt the pinch of decreased consumer spending, and smart ones are realizing that, while America's wealthiest generation may have hit AARP's magic number, they have not stopped spending or exploring new brands. Consequently, market leaders are once again targeting the boomer generation-comprising 76 million people, 59 million of whom are already age 50+.

Examples of this trend can be seen far and wide. Stouffers' "Let's Fix Dinner" campaign targets empty nesters. Jeep has honed in on "cool" grandparents. General Mills and Yahoo are partnering to reach boomers through their health-focused digital "Vitality" campaign. Proctor & Gamble has teamed up with NBC Digital to develop a network of boomer Web sites under the banner "Life Goes Strong."

As the ultimate industry sign of renewal, Tuesday night, the Effie Awards will present its new Boomer+ Award for the second year in a row, honoring marketing effectiveness to the 50+ demographic.

It's important not to overstate reality. Younger consumers still rule in most marketers' minds. The boomer-plus demographic may never be the primary interest of mainstream marketers, but they are increasingly finding their place alongside younger generations as advertisers seek to maximize the ROI of their consumer communications.

Though motivated by a desire for increased bottom lines, the renewed relationship with boomers has broader societal implications.

For starters, boomers are being portrayed in a more positive and realistic light in advertisements, which could shift how society views the 50+ population. The vibrant, active image of Jeep's "cool grandma" can replace traditional stereotypes and reshape our cultural perception of what it means to be in the second half of life.

Additionally, advertisers are learning that they have an opportunity to develop new products and services to meet the specific needs of the 50+ population. This will lead to a wider variety of products and services aimed at improving the lives of people 50+, benefiting not only the boomers, but each successive generation, who will reap the rewards as they move past middle age.