VIA Idea #23: How to Market to Baby Boomers & Their Parents (aka the Silent Generation)

7 Aug

The Silent Generation
Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, account for approximately 40 percent of consumer spending and as much as 80 percent of personal wealth—so your business can’t afford to ignore this group.

I recently came across a top-ten list of dos and don’ts to follow when marketing to the Baby Boomer generation. I’ve whittled the list to what I consider the most relevant five:

5. Do not use terms like “grab bars” and “hand rails.” Use something like “belay,” a term borrowed from mountain climbing.
4. Do make the packaging of certain products, like a canister of snacks, easier to open.
3. Do make the fonts on your packaging and in your advertising larger and sharper.
2. Do concentrate on your product’s appearance to appeal to their senses. Yes, Boomers are aging; no, they don’t want bland.
1. Do not—under any circumstance—remind or suggest to Baby Boomers that they’re getting old!

The Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1945, is more likely to read traditional media than younger people (one study found that 81 percent of 65-74s and The Silent Generation 86 percent of those 75-plus said they had read a book, magazine or newspaper within the 24 hours before being queried) but this doesn’t mean they want to read long blocks of text. Be sure to keep your message short, use bullet lists when appropriate and talk about how the product/service benefits the reader.

Engaging older people with images and messages that evoke an emotion are much more effective than technical articles. Be careful also, not to be too familiar in tone. Give them the respect they expect and don’t try to bully with “last chance, buy it today” types of marketing. Instead, using personal testimonials from real clients or customers gives your message validity.

But no matter how much they exercise, how much anti-aging cream they apply or how well they otherwise take care of themselves, neither of these groups have discovered the fountain of youth. As anyone over age 40 knows, eyesight begins to deteriorate. Although our creative department sometimes makes exceptions, at VIA we keep in mind that plain typefaces, larger fonts and high contrast color combinations work better for “older” consumers.

These fonts are all the same size. Which would you prefer to read in an ad?

I’ll close with this advice: don’t be blatant when marketing to Boomers or their parents. As you work on developing messages, materials or packaging, refer again and again to #1 above.

If you’d like more ideas or help with the plan, contact us or click to

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