How Cultural Movements can net the Baby Boomers

Posted on 5th Sep 2011 by Scott Goodson in Blog

The New York Times has reported that brands have started to turn their attention to the one group of people amongst us who may still have disposable income during these times of recession – the over 55s.

And for good reason. Statistics show that they not only have more money to spare, they earn more, spend more and have more job security than younger consumers. They also avidly consume more media.

According to reports, ‘youthful’ brands such as Sketchers have already picked up on the trend with adverts in AARP The Magazine – not the typical place you’d expect to see a Sketchers ad.

But what does this mean for movement marketing? Can Cultural Movements help brands reach these cash-rich baby boomers?

Of course. Boomers are more likely to connect quickly with an idea on the rise in culture, that all inspiring community building idea that sparks a movement more than other groups. Case in point, the cultural movement StrawberryFrog created for Pepsico and the development and launch of True North Snacks – a totally new product range for Frito Lady and a radical new marketing approach targeting baby boomers.

We started a real movement for boomers, which aligned to their desire to find their life’s true passion, their true north. From the start our anthropological research showed us that this was a super potent insight. Because we created the brand purpose and brand benefit (this was a totally new product launch from scratch) we were able to connect the idea on the rise in culture to the brand purpose. And bang, the True North Snacks community grew extraordinarily fast and attracted a significantly higher number of consumers right off the back compared to other well-known brands.

Results showed a product adoption and a participation in the True North Snack’s movement four times that of brands targeting a younger segment that also had significantly bigger budgets and longstanding brands.

So the evidence is irrefutable. And on top of this, the movement positioned our own as relevant to the boomer consumer while repositioning our competitors – in this case, Planter’s Peanuts – as more old-fashioned. Here is a video of this movement.

Against conventional wisdom, mature consumers are more likely to become passionate advocates of a brand, more likely to be fiercely brand activists and loyal. Once they find a cultural movement they can get behind, that they like, they tend to dig in, participate, they tell all their friends and they stick with it.

What’s crucial is how brands communicate with this audience. Movements certainly have a remarkable impact on boomers. Traditional advertising has its limits. Movements move their world. Remember, this is a generation who fought for civil rights and for many social issues - so participating in cultural movement comes naturally to them.

Another case in point is the cultural movement StrawberryFrog sparked for Pfizer. We created the Boomer Coalition, a marketing platform for Lipitor and a number of medications which fight against something we called CVD. See the Boomer Coalition case here.

Finally, never assume that boomers don’t tap into the latest technology – studies have shown that mature consumers are heavy spenders on digital products and are just as likely as younger people to have the latest gadgets such as iPads and enjoy social networking.

Making wrong assumptions is where brands could ultimately fall down. This generation don’t want to be patronized – they’re not looking to regain their youth. So brands have to adapt the Cultural Movement message to suit the audience as they are now. What motivates them? What issues are important to them? How can your brand be relevant to these issues? And what’s the best media route to reach them?

If you get the message and the medium right, you could find that the over 55s become your perfect consumer.

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