Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh Baby Baby!

I've had this in my head for a while now, and Hulu's new campaign with Boomer Alec Baldwin aimed at those Boomers instead of young, cool kids like me got me thinking again.

In the age of "Jesus Christ on a bicycle my Mom just Facebook friended me," people are re-evaluating Boomers. I feel like there was always a skepticism about treating the Boomers as anything from vacation-loving retirees, but now the view is changing as Boomers are reestablishing themselves as informed and active users of modern communications.

The Reader’s Digest version:
  • Boomers are used to adapting to new technology; they’ve done this all their lives
  • The latest technological development, the internet, create a distinction between them and later generations
  • Boomers learned on their own terms when it was relevant to them, especially from having to use technology in their careers
  • Boomers don't think they're old or out of touch and resent being treated that way
  • There is a distinction between common knowledge and universal knowledge. Boomers might not know what seems obvious
  • Regardless, Boomers are still a valuable market who use everything from Hulu to Wii to Twitter

read more

Slowly, Gen X and Y-ers are coming to terms with the fact that their Mom is listening to her iPod at the grocery store and their Dad is TiVoing the Duke game.

There’s always been a general enthusiasm my generation, because Millennials are considered to be different: They grew up in a time where technology was rapidly developing and have been using computers for most of our lives.

But Boomers are different, too. They've been part of this communication revolution just as my generation has, but in a different way. A year after the first Baby Boomer was born, another landmark in American History occurred: in 1947, the transistor was invented.

Boomers grew up in a world that has always had the transistor and the technology that comes along with it. They grew up after radio and television were invented and during their lifetime a multitude of other devices were invented, from the personal stereo to the Internet.

Throughout their lifetime, Boomers have adapted to new technology and incorporated these new advances into their lives to make them easier and richer. Through their careers, Boomers have grown acquainted with the Internet and cell phones. They integrated technology into their daily lives because of their careers and are likely to continue to use the same technology after they retire.

But here is where the important distinction is made. Millennials all started on the same level and worked up to a decent grasp of technology together. Boomers, on the other hand, learned on their own time when they needed it.

Instead of being forced to learn about computers through school or hearing about new, fun ways to use the internet to communicate and play with friends like Gen X and Y, Boomers have adapted to technology on their own time.

So marketing to Boomers is different, too. Boomers are not technologically illiterate, but they approach technology differently. They are still active members of the communications world and need to be communicated to appropriately.

Communicating to Boomer appropriately does not mean creating a dumbed-down version. Boomers do not consider themselves old and reject things that seemed obviously aimed towards Boomers. Instead, they embrace what is relevant to their lives.

Matt Thornhill, president of The Boomer Project, says, “The biggest misconception about Baby Boomers is they think they are old…Boomers do not consider themselves old. They are putting off old age…They are continuing to follow the same patterns they have in the past.”

What to remember is that Boomers are involved with current technology, but they might not use it in the same way as the younger generations. I realized this when I came across a (heavily highlighted) print out of this article on my parent's desk. This "Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User" post makes the distinction between common knowledge and universal knowledge. You might think that something like Ctrl-C is stamped in everyone’s mind, but that is not necessarily the case.

Boomers are no longer the geriatric stereotypes that many consider them. Luckily, there examples emerging that correspond with the redefinition of the Boomers.

An early example is from 2007, when Paul McCartney appeared in an iPod commercial. Paul is a timeless figure, but Apple was actually doing some smart marketing. 33% of Baby Boomers own an Early Lifecycle Portable Electronic Product (like an MP3 player or a portable DVD player), while the national average for adults is 30% (Lifestyles of Baby Boomers - Mintel Reports).

Hulu recently used Alec Baldwin in their SuperBowl commercial. At first glance, it seems like a strange choice because Alec’s age peers are not necessarily what someone would imagine using Hulu. But in actuality, the Wall Street Journal reported that:
When the company launched its public site last March, the largest age group visiting the site were those Internet visitors over 55 years old, accounting for 47% of all site visits, while traditionally younger early adopters accounted for only 17% of traffic. (via 5 Blogs Before Lunch)

The recent movie Last Chance Harvey was actually a cultural landmark for Boomers.
The nice thing here is that the movie is about the lives of the older characters, not just about them being someone’s grandparent or mentor.(Savvy Boomer via PSFK)
Boomers are a huge market for everything from Wiis (hey-Nintendo says 25% of their gamers are 50+) to YouTube, and it is important to realize that, really, even granny can get a blog.

images from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Geez.

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