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By Matt Thornhill, President
The Boomer Project
Everyone knows the baby boomer cohort, those 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, is the largest, wealthiest, most important demo-graphic segment in the history of travel marketing. With the oldest boomers entering their 60s and the midpoint at age 50, they are now into their empty nest years and will have time, motivation and money for travel. But if you don’t recalibrate your marketing efforts to appeal to this group, you could miss out.
In our work with clients in the travel and tourism industry, we have identified some “new rules” for marketing travel to today’s boomer consumer. There are lots of new tricks to learn, and we’ll share three important ones you’ll need to master to attract Boomers to your attraction or event:
1. Treat everyone differently.
In a national survey, we asked boomers who were the musical bards of their generation. Boomers born before 1955 tended to say Bob Dylan. Boomers born after 1955 said Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know about you, but to me Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are not one and the same.
We consider this the first rule to understand when it comes to marketing to today’s boomer consumer. They aren’t all one and the same. Not at all.
Effectively marketing to today’s boomer consumer starts with an understanding that they all are different. The sheer size of the demographic should suggest that boomers come in
millions of shapes and sizes. (Actually, if you’re a “one-in-a-million” boomer, there are 78 more just like you, so there is some overlap). One in three adults over the age of 21 in the United States is a boomer. The group’s size—78 million— equals the population of Canada, Chile, Cuba and Australia combined! One wouldn’t treat the citizens of those countries as one homogeneous group, so take my advice when I tell you not to group all boomers into a single segment.
2. Tell your message as a story instead of presenting a set of
Facts only appeal to the rational side of the brain, while a story involves the entire brain and often the heart. The story can be a simple anecdote, analogy or example that brings your message to life. This approach enables boomers to maintain control, because they have to actively engage in the story to determine if it is relevant to them. Decisions around travel can be emotional—they are taking the trip to have an experience.
3. Make it personal.
Provide context for how the experience they’ll have at your destination fits their individual life, not “everyone’s.” That means make sure your language is personal—use second person singular (you) not third person plural (they). For today’s boomer consumer, what is important is only what is important to them personally, especially when it comes to a vacation.
These new rules and others we’ve identified will enable you to have much more success in connecting with today’s boomers, be it online, in an ad, in your marketing materials or elsewhere.
The Boomer Project will publish a new book, Boomer Consumer, with more details on reaching boomers. The book will be available in June.
For more information, visit www.boomerproject.com. The Boomer Project also publishes a monthly newsletter. Click here to sign up.
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