It can be said that perception is the most persistent and deceitful form of truth, often grounded in myth and mischaracterization, and sometimes founded on generational prejudice. In an attempt to allocate marketing spend efficiently and effectively, marketers must make assumptions about the method and methodology of reaching significant and specific market segments. The accepted perception among senior marketers that baby-boomers – those born between 1947 and 1955, and Millennials’, those born between 1982 and 2004 – are overwhelmingly reluctant or indifferent to the use of the new technologies in brand marketing defies not only logic but the established science.
According to Forrester Research‘s annual benchmark tech study, baby boomers dominate the market in terms of money spent on technology: “It’s actually a myth that baby boomers aren’t into technology. They represent 25% of the population, but they consume 40% [in total dollars spent] of it,” said Patricia McDonough, senior VP-analysis at Nielsen Co. A recent report from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project revealed that older generations, particularly baby boomers, are catching up to younger generations in their use of technology. And, while they weren’t necessarily the earliest adopters of the Internet, the first users to have mobile connectivity, or the first ones to sign up for social networking, baby boomer’s growth rate in adoption and use of information and communications technology is higher than, and in some cases surpassing, that of younger generations.
While use of computers was once a sign of generational divide, boomers have lived and worked in an era in which their use was quite common and even necessary, baby boomers are turning to the Internet for news, getting information and downloading music. The Pew, Generations Online Report, indicates that 86 percent of the baby-boomer generation and 95 percent of Millennials make up the majority of the online population, a demographic that spends more than 50 percent of all CPG dollars and are those responsible for spending 7 billion dollars online every year, more than any other generation.
To spite this reality, marketers are still mostly looking at digital media as a place to use direct-response advertising as opposed to branding, general-awareness advertising, “There’s still a perception that traditional media needs to be a big part of the budget. And TV is still getting a growing piece of the pie, even though TV viewership is down and it’s much more fragmented than ever before,” according to a chief revenue officer who oversees several major websites devoted to women’s interests.
As consumers move away from traditional print and broadcast media, senior marketers must move marketing dollars towards the new technology media to ensure that their marketing efforts don’t produce a monumental bust when attempting to reach the “boomers”. To adequately and successfully allocate future marketing spend, todays senior marketers will need to better understand how generational markets use the new technologies such as; mobile devises, lap top computers and electronic newspapers and magazines and fine tune their marketing strategy to match the intricacies of marketing through new and varied social media outlets.
Baby boomer marketers have long been cautioned not to prejudge a prospect when making an approach and connection with a potential customer and must now not fail to correctly identify and initiate effective and meaningful marketing strategy that is founded on the true reality of the generational gap.