TM: Should marketers gear their messaging and offers specifically to boomers?
Bickert: Direct marketing is a wonderful medium for reaching boomers, because it can speak to each segment within the diverse boomer population using versioned messages.
I suggest everyone test e-mail marketing for versioned messages. This medium allows you to version copy and offers—easily and cost-effectively.
Using e-mail, the costs are minimal so the potential ROI is even greater [than with other media]. But it all relates back to the issue of relevance. To succeed, you need to know what your prospect's attitudes and preferences are.
TM: What's the key to ensuring marketing messages are relevant to baby boomers?
Bickert: To successfully sell to boomers requires more than a superficial understanding of who they are. You need to invest the time and effort to really know their purchasing habits, their channel preferences, their attitudes.
And it's important to realize that with such a huge audience we're talking about many different attitudes and preferences. Some are more likely to be brand loyal, some are going to be more price sensitive—even if they're interested in the same product.
TM: Can you give an example of how widely boomers' buying habits differ?
Bickert: Let's take a health/cosmetic company selling a vitamin or skin-care product for [mature consumers].
Ronnie and Debbie [a Cohort segment identified by Bickert and Cohorts/Looking Glass] are a working class couple whose median income is $39,000 and median age is 47. They are not at all brand loyal. Their major motivation is price.
Compare them to Barry and Kathleen [who represent another Cohort segment], who, at a median age of 46 and income of $134,000, go for fashion and frequently shop online. They're responsive to sophisticated media such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazines, and are not at all price-sensitive.