ROCK OF AGES
Part I: The Boomers
To reach this demographic bulge, keep 'em entertained and feeling
You're preparing your advertising campaign and promotions for this year.
You want to target older customers, Baby Boomers and maybe even some Generation
X customers. You know from experience that each group has different buttons
that push them into buying, but just what are they?
That question is answered in Rocking the Ages, The Yankelovich Report
on Generational Marketing (Harper-Business, a division of Harper Collins
Publishers) by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman. The authors, partners at
Yan-kelovich, say customer buying habits are influenced more by their generation
than by their income, education or gender. Because the Baby Boomers are
crowding into their peak earning years, a time when jewelry sales tend to
increase, this month's column will focus on them. Part II in March will
look at Matures (the name the authors assign to people born between 1909
and 1945) and GenX consumers (those born after 1964).
Born from 1946 through 1964, Baby Boomers lived in postwar prosperity
and they buy with a sense of entitlement. Trouble is, at least in the past
10 to 15 years, Boomers have started to realize they won't ever have the
easy prosperity they believed in. Their answer is to "charge it"
- pushing credit card debt to record levels.
Nevertheless, "whether they need to or not, whether they can afford
to or not, Boomers will keep spending," say the authors. How they spend
is another story. Here are the ways to attract this segment of buyers, who
will be in their peak earning years (45 to 54) for the next 20 years:
GENERATIONS AND THE WATCHES THEY LOVED
- Meet stress with easy shopping. Boomers continue to be stressed-out
and yearn for simplicity and someone else to do their chores for them -
even pleasant chores such as buying an important gift. Personal services,
such as providing an assortment of choices in jewelry around a spouse's
birthday (preferably brought to the office, chosen and wrapped there),
will earn you loyalty. So will other custom services, such as keeping records
of client preferences.
- Meet distrust with information. Baby Boomers were instilled with a
permanent sense of suspicion through Vietnam and Watergate and always feel
there's a story behind the story you tell them. Clearly written product
information will continue to be an attraction, as will your gem and jewelry
degrees, certificates, out-in-the-open bench repairer and product guarantees.
- Meet boredom with "experiences." Baby Boomers live in fear
of being bored, so stress the wonderful experience they will have buying
fine jewelry from you. Allow them to experience the creation of a piece
of jewelry, tell them incredible stories of how precious metals and gems
are mined or arrange a slide show of jewelry's colorful history.
- Meet their aging with appeals to youth. Baby Boomers identify more
with the generation below them than with their parents. They want to stay
forever young, so market to them using edgier, hipper methods.
Rocking the Ages lists the following watches as special to each
generation. We've applied the core values of each generation the book describes
to each watch:
How it fit their values: Conservative and conformist. Good value for
the money. Inexpensive, so self-sacrificing Matures could save for the future.
Durable and resilient, the Timex watch "took a licking and kept on
ticking," in the words of the famous commercials with which Timex targeted
Matures for 20 years.
How it fit their values: Digital watches set the wearer apart as an
individual (even if everyone else did have one). Didn't conform to their
parent's expectation of how a watch face should look. Helped Boomers to
stay in control of their time with features such as beeping alarms.
Generation X: SwatchCopyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.
How it fit their values: Millions of options, because there is no one
right way. Relatively cheap, because the future holds no guarantee of financial
security. Irreverent, innovative, visual and interactive. It's fun for fun's
sake, though it tells time too.