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Welcome Keynote: The New Rules for Communicating to Boomers

March 18, 2008
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Matt Thornhill, the founder of The Boomer Project, a marketing research and consulting company focusing on baby boomers, gave an informative and entertaining EFA welcome keynote speech this morning on how to market to the next generation of “elderly.”

Although, as was Thornhill’s recurring message, the baby boomers will probably never call themselves “elderly.”

Middle age is no longer 40. Middle age seems to be actually aging itself along with the population, creeping up to 60, 65. In general, people do not consider themselves old until 75 or 80. Some points to keep in mind when promoting and designing your products and services:

  • The boomer generation responds to messages put into the positive. You don’t have to scare them into coming to your community. Just like us youngn’s, they’re looking forward to the rest of their life, and a successful marketing strategy will put opportunities in front of them.
  • Boomers are not very brand loyal. So they can be open to new products and services.
  • Boomers on average feel 15 years younger than they actually are. But this doesn’t mean they are that young. So if a boomer is 55 years young, and she feels 40, it doesn’t mean that you market to her like she’s actually 40. Is this making sense?
  • The older we get the more likely we are to block out messages put in the negative.
  • The 78,000,000 boomers are not all the same. There isn’t one marketing strategy for the whole group. But there are smaller markets to which you can target within the generation.
  • Emotion, gut feelings, backed by experience, tend to drive decisions the older we get.
  • More info is better. But put it online. Boomers will go online to get info on a product before they pick up the phone.
  • The rules will definitely change. The consumer is the expert.

Also (and let me add that Thornhill said this, not I) this generation is self-absorbed (in the good way).

Actually, Thornhill and most of those in attendance are baby boomers. So from my perspective—my little innocent Generation New Millennia (those born after 1983) perspective—there was something really endearing about his speaking to a crowd of mostly boomers. These boomer designers and facility owners are in a sense striving and laying the groundwork to make their own aging (can I still use this word—is younging better?) environment alive, comfortable, and healthy.


They really

are a self-absorbed generation!

But, really, this is something great that they’re doing here at EFA. I can look forward to better care and lifestyles for my grandparents, parents, and someday (like, a long time from now) for me.

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