In their commentary "Make Way For The U-Boomers" McKinsey consultants David Court and Diana Farrell discuss U-Boomers - the largest segment of the baby boomer generation, sandwiched between 10 million very wealthy boomer households and 11 million disadvantaged households.
According to McKinsey research, u-boomers share the optimism of their wealthier counterparts but cannot afford a "Lexus lifestyle".
Some excerpts from the commentary (read in its entirety):
- As the economic clout of the cash-constrained, highly discriminating u-boomers grows, companies will need to rethink how they deliver services while keeping prices down. Web-based tools that lower delivery costs while retaining a sense of personalization and high-end service are part of the solution.
- For retailers, meeting u-boomer needs means jettisoning the idea that older people prefer smaller specialty stores. Our research indicates that two-thirds of u-boomers prefer to shop at bigger stores.
- Given this group's high expectations for service, retailers should avoid over-investing in small-store formats and focus instead on keeping prices down while innovating around convenience and service.
This is very interesting information - McKinsey always produces great information - but is this really news to anyone in marketing?
The McKinsey consultants write "in contrast to the stereotype of older consumers as thrifty and unadventurous with entrenched brand loyalties, this group is technology-savvy, open-minded and willing to experiment."
As a result, they suggest that "companies need to think about repositioning their brands".
We are inundated with information about how we should market to Boomers. And it is my personal belief that a lot of so-called marketing 'experts" - usually Boomers themselves who feel the need to remind us just how special their generation is - underestimate corporate marketing departments.
I think most marketing departments get it.
All generations have unique characteristics that shape how we as marketers position, price, package and distribute the products or services we market to the respective generation.
Sorry Boomers but your generation is no more unique than any other generation. All generations have interesting nuances that challenge marketing departments as they try to influence and move consumers through the purchasing cycle.
What makes Boomers unique - radically distinctive and without equal - is their size. This, and this alone, is why marketers make such a big deal about the Boomer generation.
Everyone is trying to figure out how to sell more stuff to the Boomers, a generation that will account for roughly 40 percent of total U.S. spending by 2015!!
As a marketer, you want to carefully identify your target market, learn as much about them as possible (demographics, buying habits, needs, purchasing behavior, etc.), and figure out how to reach them, engage them, establish trust with them and motivate them to buy more of your stuff.
This is not unique to the Boomer generation. It's called good marketing.
And I believe most marketing departments get this.
Very few major brands that I am aware of are making the assumption that older consumers are thrifty and unadventurous - unless of course their segmentation research shows that their target market is in fact thrifty and unadventurous. After all, in this economy some of those 24 million households must be a little thrifty and unadventurous.