The Awesome Hidden Power Of Boomer Influencers

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Influencers – the hot new buzzword in marketing circles

Just when we had learned to suppress a gag reaction to a slew of cringe-worthy 21st century pop-marketing buzzwords, along came influencer to send us reaching – actually, retching – for the Pepto-Bismol. Check out ADWEEK if you’re feeling hardy enough.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re as desperate cool as any over-fifty team out there, eager to stay relevant in an 18-49 world – hey, we’re seriously considering Converse High Tops, skinny jeans and untucked shirts as standard issue. Shinola watches too.

So we totally relate to curated, sustainable, responsibly sourced brands practicing corporate citizenship via native advertising and holistic storytelling that empowers …

tv-test-pattern_indian-headOh, yuk! Can’t continue. OMG, no mâs. Gotta run. Where the heck did we put the Pepto-Bismol?

Please stand by. In the meantime click to listen to an authentic Boomer-era test pattern.

pepto-bismolBack again. Boy, that pink stuff really works!

Acts like a truth serum too: confession time, we’re not really insecure enough to switch our grandparent bod gear from L.L. Bean, DSW, Macy’s and Target to adland elder-chic.

Sure, most Boomer mentors have grown-up uniforms in the closet for special occasions – Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Brooks Brothers accessorized with Coach, Burberry and maybe a Longines like Bogart wore in Casablanca. No, not a replica, the real deal. But, day-to-day, we prefer geezer/geezerette authenticity.

Now, about influencers.

We have to admit it’s not so much the term itself that rankles as the fact “inclusive” brands almost never include influencers over fifty in their marketing. Instead, it’s mostly about minor web celebrities – aka spokespeople – connecting on social media with kids with limited spending power and even less responsibility for actual household budgets.

For real influencers in big, big, categories, brands need to understand the Boomers.

Hidden Boomer influence dominates almost every market

training-wheelsFrom CPGs to cars to home improvement, Boomers exert enormous influence over a vast range of brand destinies. And not just through our dominant buying power – younger generations are willing to be guided by our input and mentorship until they feel confident to remove their own brand-choice training wheels.

OK, when the Internet goes down many Boomers can’t reset Netflix to their Rockford Files watch list without calling the kids. However, except for youth-specific trends/niches, we already set the brand ground rules, core values and pecking order long ago.

Boomer influencers: retail and CPGs

According to the Video Advertising Bureau, consumers over fifty account directly for 58% of all US retail sales, including CPGs; is there any doubt that a sizable additional share of the remainder is influenced by the brands our Millennial children were raised with?

And let’s not forget the grandma effect.

What new young mom doesn’t turn to her own mother for advice on everything from detergents to baby food when that cute little critter finally arrives to take control of the entire proud family?

Boomer influencers: new vehicle sales

Moving up the price-point ladder, new vehicle purchases are also dominated by Boomers. With an average transaction price of $33,700 (Kelly Blue Book) new vehicles are simply unaffordable for most young consumers. Surprise – Mark Zuckerberg is not typical.

In fact, for years, the median buyer has been in the 50-52 age range; for 2016, researchers at Strategic Vision estimate 59% of them will be fifty-plus. So, by the time significant numbers of Millennials enter the market, Boomer influence will have already set the rules of the road, EVs to SUVs to autonomous.

Boomer influencers: home improvement/remodeling

1950s-familyAlthough Millennials – still hampered by college loans and lower-paid jobs – are slowly acquiring buying power, many must choose between the new car showroom and other more primal instincts.

Biological clocks are ticking, family formations are occurring and the downtown loft, with it’s walkable bistro neighborhood, is beginning to look a whole lot less appealing than a cute suburban nest within easy driving distance of the mall.

Home ownership is an expensive proposition; there is always something to be fixed, maintained or improved, and Millennials on tight budgets can’t afford to lose money through bad decisions. So, they are highly likely to turn to mom, dad or uncle Joe for advice on lawn mowers, water heaters, bathroom upgrades and the like.

Once again, Boomers are well-placed to guide brand choice. As owners of two-thirds of US homes, and buyers of 65% of all remodeling and home improvement products sold in America, they influence and guide their kids as they start on their own family journeys.

Boomer influencers: the result of a lifetime of asset accumulation

By now, most of you are probably as weary of seeing the term influencers as we are. So let’s cut to the chase and kill off another vapid meme beloved by Madison Avenue.

It’s the one that claims consumers are not worth targeting after age fifty because –  Pepto-Bismol moment alert – we are no longer adaptable, open to switching brands or willing to accept new ideas. Because of this obsolete 1960s era idea, only around 5-10% of mainstream category advertising dollars are allocated to targeting folks outside the 18-49 demo.

Sorry, adland, but living in the past doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your ability to satisfy brand stakeholders’ number one requirement: seek out new opportunities, beat out incompetent brands and make more money for us.

boomer-pie_us-h-hold-assetsReality check: U.S. households headed by someone age 50+ own 80% of the nation’s net assets: does your brand team have a strategy to  to grow brand share here?

No? We thought so. What are you going to do about it?

For most, the safe answer is probably nothing. Acquiescence is the prudent course in Madison Avenue’s groupthink ecosystem where careers can come to a crashing end by proactively targeting “old” people.

But for all you curious disruptors – we know you’re out there – there are many creative ways to expand opportunities in the Boomer-Plus Generation™, the 96 million Baby Boomers, their siblings born 1940-1945 and Gen Xers over 50 who share the socio-cultural DNA of Boomer-world.

How could there not be incredible rewards for actively engaging what is the third largest economy in the world after the U.S. itself and China?

But to succeed here brands need experts who cut through the silly stereotypes and clumsy caricatures to unleash the amazing buying power of the 50+ space. Call us Rasputin, call us Svengali, but call us …


Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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