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How to Use TV and the Internet to Tap into the Baby Boomer Market

By Peter Koeppel


        In the past, advertisers have focused on reaching consumers in the 18-49 age range. Today, that may be changing. As more and more companies are realizing the buying power that the Baby Boomer generation possesses, marketers are shifting their ad dollars and campaigns to reach this powerful market segment.


The Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—comprise a market of 76 million people. And unlike the younger generations who are saving to buy houses and cars and struggling to raise a family, Boomers have a fat wallet of disposable income (some experts have approximated that Boomers have nearly a trillion dollars of spending power). Knowing this, no company can ignore the sheer size of the market, nor the wealth or voice that they have. That’s why smart marketers are rethinking their ad campaigns and targeting this profitable niche.


So what’s the best way to reach this market? TV and Internet, for sure. While television is still the most effective medium for reaching Boomers, the online options are growing fast. Following are some guidelines for using each effectively.


The TV Generation


Boomers were the first generation to grow up with TV, so it makes sense that they still prefer this medium as they age. In fact, on average, Boomers watch 22 minutes more TV per day than younger people, according to Nielsen Media Research. And since TV viewership increases with age, as the Boomers mature, their TV viewing time will continue to rise. What does this mean for marketers?


· Focus on the right type of programming. Boomers tend to watch programs that center around life stages. For older Boomers, shows like CSI and Dancing with the Stars are favorites. Older Boomers also prefer news programs and are less interested in reality TV. For younger Boomers, shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are popular. Additionally, science fiction programming is popular with all Boomers, perhaps because this generation watched so much of the genre while growing up. Therefore, if you want your TV ads to reach Boomers in the most cost efficient manner, you have to place them during the shows that Boomers watch.


· Boomers don’t multi-task. While younger TV viewers are likely to be online while watching TV and may even interact with the program via online voting, text messaging or chat rooms, don’t count on that with Boomers. They tend to focus on one media at a time. For advertisers, that means Boomers won’t likely type in your displayed web address while watching your commercial spot. Rather, they’ll pick up the phone and call the toll free number you display or go to your website after they finish watching a TV show.


· Help Boomers identify with your ads. Since Boomers are not in their 20s and 30s anymore, make sure your ads reflect the needs, wants, and images of older Americans. A 20-year-old perfectly airbrushed model touting an anti-wrinkle cream won’t speak to the Boomer market. Go for more mature spokespersons and really do your homework to determine how your product or service helps Boomers. The big categories or “hot buttons” for boomers are security, longevity, money management, wealth transfer, lowering their bills, and travel.


The Internet – You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks


The big misconception in online marketing is that you can’t reach Boomers via the Internet. In fact, Baby Boomers make up one-third of the 195 million web users in the United States, according to JupiterResearch. Additionally, ad buyers targeted Boomers with close to 5 billion dollars in ads in 2004, out of 13 billion spent in web advertising. So don’t think that Boomers aren’t online and that they reject technology. Nothing could be further from the truth.


According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, over half (54%) of 60-69 year-olds go online, and 72% of 51-59 year-olds surf the net. Further, studies show that Boomers spend more money online that the average web user, yet they’re still the most underserved audience on the net. Therefore, if you want to serve this demographic, consider the following.


· Create a network. Boomers crave social networks. Sites like and target younger people, and focuses on business professionals. While Boomers do participate in such online social networks, they usually discover that these sites have little to offer them. If you want Boomers to be a regular visitor to your site, offer them a place where they can connect with each other and explore topics of interest to them. It may be helpful for you to check out a new site, TeeBeeDee,, which is specifically designed for Boomers and is positioned as a Facebook for Boomers.


· Offer the right information. Boomers are most interested in such topics as alternative health, entertainment, finance, health, hearth and home, hobbies and fitness, and travel. Boomers are frequent and engaged online users, so make sure your site has the kind of information they are most interested in. This generation is also going through a life stage filled with lots of tough issues, including retirement, investment planning, and healthcare. If your product or service can help Boomers better plan for these life transitions, then you need to prominently state so on your site and offer lots of information on the topic.


· Go easy on the multi-media effects. Boomers don’t want a web page to be overwhelming. Therefore, limit how much “stuff” you have going on the screen. Remember, Boomers don’t like to multi-task, so don’t try to pull their attention away from the core information they came to your site for.


A Profit Boom


Once you effectively target the Baby Boomer demographic, your sales will increase. The key is to understand what this group wants and how they use and view the different advertising mediums. So take a look at your current TV and online campaigns and make sure they address the needs and concerns of the Boomer market. Revamp your marketing messages and placements as needed so you can cash in on the nearly trillion dollars of spending power this group has. When you do, you’ll have tapped into a large and profitable niche that can quickly boost your company’s profits to new levels of success.


About the author:

Peter Koeppel is founder and president of Koeppel Direct, a leader in direct response television (DRTV), online, print and radio media buying. Peter is a Wharton MBA, with over 25 years of marketing and advertising experience. Koeppel has helped Fortune 1000 businesses; small businesses and entrepreneurs develop direct marketing campaigns to increase profits. For more information on his company, please visit: or call: 972-732-6110.


Editors Note: Watch the January 2008 issue of Direct Marketing Digest for a one on one interview with Peter Koeppel. Peter’s interview will launch our newest feature, “Direct Marketing Success Stories!”

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