Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Break the Demographic Stereotypes

When I worked in the radio business, our stations were judged by the age of our listeners.

The web doesn't discriminate.

From Mediapost:

How To Get Your Organization Age Ready

At the age of 60, Bruce Springsteen earned more revenue from his concert tour than did Coldplay and the Jonas Brothers combined.*


Does your top management team know this? Do they realize we live in new world where the 50+ consumer is fast becoming the major driver of the U.S. economy?

Is your organization ready to claim your fair share of the $3.5 trillion spent annually by Boomers and older adults on consumer goods and services? By the way, younger adults spend around $2.3 trillion, or about a third less (according to the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Adults 18 to 49, ha!

Look. It is time for all organizations -- from Fortune 500 corporations to non-profits to government entities to local retailers -- to get up-to-speed on what is happening to the demographics in the U.S. and what to do about it.

Over the next two decades America and most of the world will undergo a profound, transformative, industry-changing, revolutionary and permanent change: there will be fewer younger people and greater numbers of older people than ever before. This change will be as dramatic and all encompassing as the change that happened between Aug. 6, 1991, and today, some 20 years later.

That's right, on that day Tim Berners-Lee announced to the online world that he had created the World Wide Web (sorry, Al Gore was not in the room at the time).

If you could go back to that day, knowing what you know now about the impact of the Web on literally everything, what would you do differently? Not just in 1991, but in '92, '93, '94 and so on? How would you have capitalized on the change, as it happened?

(Yeah, yeah, you'd have invested in all the right Internet stocks and now be retired.)

Our belief is that the inevitable age shift is as profound, transformative, industry-changing, revolutionary and permanent. Knowing that, what should your organization start doing differently? Now, in 2011, and in '12, '13, '14 and so on.

We see three courses of action:

1. Become "Age Aware." The simple facts about the size and spending of the 50+ consumer segment ought to be well known by anyone running an organization today. Here's another demographic time bomb few seem to grasp: Between now and 2031, the 18-to-49 age segment is expected to grow in size by 12%, reaching about 153 million. The 50+ segment will expand by 34%, reaching 135 million, almost as large. Focusing only on young adults -- about half the market -- is a fast way to ruin your business.

2. Get "Age Ready." Once your organization has a grasp on the demographic realities, it is time to plan for the future. The longer-trend, permanent shift in the age composition in America will impact every industry and every organization, but not all at the same time in the same way. Does your organization have any game plan for capitalizing on this future?

3. Plan to become "Ageless." Few organizations can afford separate marketing programs for different generational or age segments. The ultimate goal is to change how you approach marketing so it is truly "ageless." A good place to start is by reading David Wolfe's Ageless Marketing. Finding a path forward that enables you to effectively market to both young and old is not difficult. It starts, though, with your organization coming to grips with the reality that such a move is demographically necessary.

Let us say it once more: the coming age shift means every organization needs to get Age Ready.

It is the only sure-fire way to create your own "Glory Days."

* Source: Billboard 2009 Concert Tour Revenues

Boomer Project founder/president Matt Thornhill is an authority on marketing to today's Boomer Consumer. He has appeared on NBC, CBS and CNBC, in "BusinessWeek," "Time," "Newsweek" and "The New York Times" and countless others. Matt is also the co-author of the business book "Boomer Consumer." Boomer Project is a marketing research and consulting firm and has done work for Johnson & Johnson, Lincoln Financial, Samsung, Hershey's Foods and Home Instead Senior Care. Reach him here.

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