Influencers – the hot new buzzword in marketing circles
Just when we had learned to suppress a gag reaction to a slew of cringe-worthy 21st century pop-marketing buzzwords, along came influencer to send us reaching – actually, retching – for the Pepto-Bismol. Check out ADWEEK if you’re feeling hardy enough.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re as
desperate cool as any over-fifty team out there, eager to stay relevant in an 18-49 world – hey, we’re seriously considering Converse High Tops, skinny jeans and UNTUCKit shirts as standard issue. Shinola watches too.
So, sure, we totally relate to curated, sustainable, responsibly sourced brands practicing corporate citizenship via native advertising and holistic storytelling that empowers …
Please stand by. In the meantime click to listen to an authentic Boomer-era test pattern.
Okay, back again. Boy. that pink stuff really works! Acts like a truth serum too. So, confession time, we’re not really insecure enough to switch our grandparent bod gear from L.L. Bean, DSW, Macy’s and Target (viva Merona!) to adland elder-chic. Sure, we have grown-up uniforms in the closet for special occasions – Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Brooks Brothers accessorized with Coach, an Omega or maybe a Longines like Bogart wore in Casablanca. No, not a replica, the real deal. But, day-to-day, we prefer geezer/geezerette authenticity.
Now, about influencers.
We have to admit it’s not so much the term itself that rankles as the fact “inclusive” brands almost never include influencers over fifty in their marketing. Instead, it’s mostly about minor web celebrities – aka spokespeople – connecting on social media with kids with limited spending power and even less responsibility for actual household budgets.
For real influencers in big, big, categories, brands need to understand the Boomers.
The Boomers’ hidden influence dominates almost every market sector
From CPGs to cars to home improvement, Boomers exert enormous influence over a vast range of brand destinies. And not just through our dominant buying power – younger generations are willing to be guided by our input and mentorship until they feel confident to remove their own brand-choice training wheels.
OK, when the Internet goes down many Boomers can’t reset Netflix to their Rockford Files watch list without calling the kids. However, except for youth-specific trends/niches, we set the brand ground rules, core values and pecking order long ago.
Boomer influencers: retail and CPGs
According to the Video Advertising Bureau, consumers over fifty account directly for 58% of all US retail sales, including CPGs; is there any doubt that a sizable additional share of the remainder is influenced by the brands children are raised with?
What new young mom doesn’t turn to her own mother for advice on everything from detergents to baby food when that cute little critter finally arrives to take control of the entire proud family?
Boomer influencers: new vehicle sales
Moving up the price-point ladder, new vehicle purchases are also dominated by Boomers. With an average transaction price of $33,700 (Kelly Blue Book) new vehicles are simply unaffordable for most young consumers. Surprise – Mark Zuckerberg is not typical.
In fact, for years, the median buyer has been in the 50-52 age range; for 2016, researchers at Strategic Vision estimate 59% of them will be fifty-plus. So, by the time significant numbers of Millennials enter the market, Boomer influence will have already set the rules of the road, EVs to SUVs to autonomous.
Boomer influencers: home improvement/remodeling
Despite Cadillac’s invitation to gridlocked lower Manhattan youth to dare greatly – the median new vehicle buyer age is likely to stay up in the 50+ arena.
Biological clocks are ticking, family formations are occurring and the downtown loft, with it’s walkable bistro neighborhood, is beginning to look a whole lot less appealing than a cute suburban nest within easy driving distance of the mall.
Home ownership is an expensive proposition; there is always something to be fixed, maintained or improved, and Millennials on tight budgets can’t afford to lose money through bad decisions. So, they are highly likely to turn to mom, dad or uncle Joe for advice on lawn mowers, water heaters, bathroom upgrades and the like.
Once again, Boomers are well-placed to guide brand choice. As owners of two-thirds of US homes, and buyers of 65% of all remodeling and home improvement products sold in America, they influence and guide their kids as they start on their own family journeys.
Boomer influencers: the result of a lifetime of asset accumulation
By now, most of you are probably as weary of seeing the term influencers as we are.
So let’s cut to the chase and kill off another vapid meme beloved by Madison Avenue. It’s the one that claims consumers are not worth targeting after age fifty because – Pepto-Bismol moment alert – we are no longer adaptable, open to switching brands or willing to accept new ideas. Because of this 1960s era notion, only around 5-10% of mainstream category advertising dollars are allocated to targeting folks outside the 18-49 demo.
Sorry, adland, but living in the past doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your ability to satisfy brand stakeholders’ number one requirement: seek out new opportunities, beat out incompetent brands and make more money for us.
Reality check: is your ad agency creative enough to grow brand share in the third largest economy in the world after the US itself and China? Hint: we’re talking about the owners of 80% of total US household assets, aka Americans aged 50-plus. No? Well, we thought so. What are you going to do about it?
Probably nothing, because conventional thinking is always the safest course in a nervous world where, as the Japanese proverb says, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.
There are endless ways to exploit the opportunity presented by the Boomer-Plus Generation™, the 96 million US consumers born between 1940 and 1966 who share Boomer-world DNA and are now united in exile beyond their fiftieth birthday expiration date.
But, to succeed, brands need experts who can cut through the clumsy stereotypes and coach them to win in the 50+ space. Brace yourselves one more time: that means finding influencers who operate in authentic Boomer-world. Call us Rasputin, call us Svengali, but call us anyway …