Jumping Jack Flash Newsletter
In this issue...
Info Overload
Generations and Leisure
Happiness and Longer Life

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Boomer Consumer Book

About Us
The Boomer Project is the nation's expert on marketing to today's older Boomer Consumer.


We offer consulting, training and marketing research to help companies and organizations develop their "50+ plan." If you don't have one, you better. It's the demographic segment that will increase in size over the next decade, growing some 22 percent while the 18-49 segment grows less than 5 percent (Census data, baby).


We conduct on-site programs, where we educate your marketing and/or customer service personnel about how today's Boomer Consumers think, feel and respond to your messages. These sessions include insights obtained from our on-going proprietary national research among Boomers.


Contact us to learn more about all of our services.


Email: info@boomerproject.com
Phone: 804.690.4837
June 1, 2011

We're back!


We've been absent for far too long for a couple of reasons:

  1. We've been busy working with clients (yay!).
  2. Somebody had to write our new book, Age Ready (Linx Publishing, 2011). Take a guess who that was.
  3. The volume of "Boomer" news and information has grown exponentially with the first ones reaching age 65. You have had plenty to read. Unfortunately, not all of it was helpful or insightful.

So, we're back now.


In this issue of Jumpin' Jack Flash, we'll share our appreciation for our loyal readers who keep up with us by "ranting" about how hard it is to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. Our own Matt Thornhill recently voiced his frustration and conclusion on what to do next.


We will also share some data from BIGresearch's semi-annual study of consumers and media consumption. The differences in reported leisure time activities vary greatly across generations.


We've found some exciting new scientific research that counters the long-held belief that it sucks to grow old (a belief held by almost everyone in the advertising world, based on portrayals of older adults in commercials and ads). For example, did you know older people are emotionally happier people? Did you know happier people live longer?


Plus, we've grown. New folks have joined us and are ready to help your company or organization best capitalize on the 50+ marketplace.


Enjoy, and then we'll see you next month (we promise)!


                                      -- The Editors

No Way Out

The Information Super Cul de Sac

As we mentioned above, there are an abundance of information resources online today about Boomers. The glut actually is part of the reason we have been quiet for a while.


We really wanted to see what others had to say and how they went about saying it. Who has a voice worth following? Who has insights contributing to the overall knowledge about marketing to Boomers? Where and how do they get the word out? Tweet? Facebook? Blog?


After months of poking around and examining the possibilities, the Boomer Project's Matt Thornhill popped a gasket and posted a screed for Media Post's Engage:Boomers site.


His frustration is this: There are far too many choices and places for too many people to publish too much content. The reality of chasing too many of these opportunities, Thornhill concludes, is that:


"The no-upfront-cost aspect of having a presence in social media comes with an extremely high time cost.


"We simply cannot be all things to all people by appearing in all social media. Nor can we consume all social media. We're going to pick and choose. We're going to focus our efforts where we can have a presence and share insights for an audience that knows us and appreciates our work."


That advice applies to all companies and organizations. While mass media may be dead (except TV, see article below), trying to cover the waterfront is futile, too.


Special note for those embracing Facebook as the home for their business or organization online: Buyer beware


Read the entire piece here.


Worlds Apart

Generations and Leisure Time


A question in the December, 2010, BIGresearch SIMM Study among 24,000 adults 18 and older, is "What are some of your favorite ways of spending your free, leisure time? (Check all that apply.)"


When sorted by generation, we see that the four dominant generations in the U.S. today are worlds apart when it comes to leisure time. Click the image below to see a legible version.

Generational Activities
Click to Enlarge

We simply ranked the top five answers by generation, and then included any others on the list that more than half of the respondents had selected.


Here are the key takeaways for us:

  1. TV is still king. You want to reach across all generations? Run TV ads. Now, you'll have to be selective where, but it remains the mass marketers ideal venue.
  2. Don't invest in any publishing stocks. The youngest generation isn't reading books for leisure - print or digital.
  3. Music still matters to Boomers. As Tom Hanks once said, "TV told us what time it was, music told us what to feel." Boomers at age 47 to 65 rank "listening to music" higher than Generation Xers.
  4. "Go to Movies" is a top activity for both Millennials and Gen Xers. But is that the result of Hollywood only making movies appealing to the twentysomething set?
  5. The Internet is a part of the leisure time landscape now and forever more. Keep in mind that the generations use it differently. For Boomers, it's more for research and planning than entertainment and socializing. The opposite is the case for younger generations.
  6. Multitasking is a young person's game. Only five activities were mentioned by more than 50% of the Silent Generation. Only six for Boomers, seven for Gen Xers. But Millennials mentioned nine activities.

The Boomer Bottom Line: Connecting with any audience works best when you demonstrate you understand their lives and can offer empathy. Staying abreast of current leisure activity trends helps marketers reach any age.


Note: Boomers enjoy "cooking" and "socializing with friends" as much as the younger generations. They outscore Gen Xers, who are now becoming homeowners and parents, when it comes to things like "home improvement projects" and "gardening." And, well, "going to casinos for gambling."


Turn That Frown Upside Down

Don't Worry, Be Happy...

And Live Longer

Surprising Research Findings  


The academic journal, Psychology and Aging, published a paper by Dr. Laura Carstensen, et al., entitled "Emotional Experience Improves With Age: Evidence Based on Over 10 Years of Experience Sampling" in November of 2010.


For Boomers and anyone marketing to them, it is a watershed piece. The Stanford Center on Longevity's recent newsletter provided a link to the full paper (PDF), should you want to plow though it. It is an academic research paper, so have a Red Bull (sugar-free) handy.


Let us give you the four key findings.


As people age, emotional experience becomes more positive.


That's right. Older people are happier people. In fact, the data suggests that overall emotional well-being improves up until one reaches his or her 70's, then it levels off.


This flies in the face of aging stereotypes and beliefs about aging by younger people that old age is a time of sadness and loss.


As people age, there is a greater stability in emotional experience.


The wild swings between negative and positive emotions lessen. Our ability to "regulate" our emotions improves with age. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a child throw a temper tantrum? How about someone over the age of 50?


As people age, emotional experiences become more mixed, with positive and negative emotions increasingly likely to occur during the same "emotional moment."


Dr. Carstensen refers to this as "poignancy." She acknowledges that not all older people are uniformly happy, but factoring in health and other variables, older people are able to have both positive and negative emotions simultaneously - like gratitude accompanied by a sense of fragility, or happiness tinged with sadness.


Our take on this is that older people see the "gray" in everything - nothing is black or white. Everything comes with a shade of gray.


People who have relatively positive emotional profiles live longer than people with relatively negative emotional profiles.


That's right, Bobby McFerrin was onto something. "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is one way to make sure you live longer. Who says we don't control our own destinies?


For our academically-inclined readers: Dr. Carstensen and her colleagues studied the emotional well-being of a representative sample of adults across a wide age range over a 13-year period. Rather than construct a study to measure one's recollection about how they felt about something, this study was designed to collect 35 emotional moments in time over a week-long observation period for 19 different emotional states.


Boomer Bottom Line: Marketers who continue to portray old age and older people as unhappy, sad, downtrodden and desperately wanting to be young again will miss the boat.


What's next for Boomers is an exciting, positive and emotionally satisfying stage of life. Don't bring us down.


Take it from here, Bobby McFerrin:


In your life expect some trouble 

But when you worry 

You make it double 

Don't worry, be happy...... 



Boomer Project News


Three new recent hires for the Boomer Project, expanding our capabilities for our clients:


Derek WebsterDerek Webster, Client Services Director. The best people performing this job function in organizations tend to be zealous, devoted and entrepreneurial. Then you won't be surprised when you learn Derek comes to us after a successful stint with the International Mission Board, planting churches in Scandinavian countries, Austria and Switzerland. That background, plus his engaging personality, will serve us and our clients well as they wake up to the 50+ opportunity ahead.


You can reach Derek at derek@boomerproject.com.


Nate Brown, Director of Technology. Nate is tasked with developing our various Web properties, building Web tools and resources for clients, and improving our use of technology and social media. He is part of our parent company, SIR Research, and can be reached at nate@SIRresearch.com.


Danielle Chonko, Manager. Dani is our in-house marketing maven, helping us spread the word about the Boomer Project and our services. If you are thinking about bringing in an outside speaker for any event, contact Dani and she will tell you about the Boomer Project's Matt Thornhill and John Martin, two of the most engaging, entertaining and informative speakers you'll ever see. 


Reach Dani at danielle@boomerproject.com.


Stay tuned for more news from us in the next issue.