Most researchers agree that Boomers value flexibility, enthusiasm, relevance, questioning, active participation, informality, optimism and personal autonomy. They may well value all those things and more, but individualism is their most stable, long-term value, serving as the guiding light for the decisions they make.
Of course, many other values can play a role in influencing Boomer buying behavior, but those values revolve in constellations around the core of individualism, radiating out from the most to least important. That means when it comes to how and what they buy, Boomers will have things their way, regardless of what the rest of the world may think.
The roots of this individualism were established during the '60s, when Boomers rejected traditional standards that limited the way previous generations thought and acted, and they haven't looked back. As a result, Boomers tend to place their goals and desires over those of the community or nation. And they won't tolerate being manipulated or meddled with when making decisions. Trying to dictate to them is worse than futile, because it can lead to a perceived lack of respect, which can result in the worst kind of word-of-mouth advertising imaginable. Diss the Boomers, and they'll let the world know.
Although much has been written about the relevance of Boomer values to marketing, it's still virtually impossible to predict the buying behavior of so large and diverse a group. The way that makes the most sense to me is treating the Boomer segment like "a market of one." This might sound like marketing mumbo-jumbo but, really, it's an easy, reliable way to remember that although Baby Boomers may share common values, the most important is individualism. Given their experiences during the '60s, typical Boomer values revolve around a strong ego that stresses independence and self-reliance.
And once you as a marketer embrace this simple truth, you'll be able to get inside the Boomer mind, see reality through their eyes, and understand how to motivate them to buy. Which can mean great things for your bottom line.
|Vincent Vassolo is the founder of Vim, Vigor & Vassolo, an agency that creates strategies, advertising and marcom programs targeting Boomers.|