Regular readers of this blog know a recurring theme is the efficacy of Baby Boomers – those born between 1946-1964 – as a viable, marketable generation. A little math reveals that Boomers now fall between the ages of 53 and 71. And that leaves this massive generation almost completely beyond the parameters of what is described in radio advertising circles as “the sweet spot.”
25-54 year-old adults
For just about every radio station in America, it's the only demo that matters. That, in spite of the fact there are roughly 75 million Boomers in the U.S., second only to those pesky Millennials in size. And despite robust statistics that clearly show these aging Woodstock Era consumers spend an estimated $2 trillion (yes, with a “T”) annually, they have rapidly become pariahs in most radio strategic research sessions. No one even includes 55-59 year-olds in audience survey for fear of steering a station right smack into the phenomenon of “aging out.”
The much-discussed “demographic cliff” is a stark warning for any format whose demographics start drifting too far northward – a condition that has already claimed Oldies and Jazz, while threatening the future of News/Talk and Classic Rock.
And yet, Boomers continue to be rack up impressive tech numbers. In Techsurvey13, our “Boomer Pyramid” reveals a mature generation ensconced in gadgets, social media, and new platforms.
More than eight in ten own a smartphone and have a profile on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. More than half stream video at least weekly, and a majority now owns a connected TV. Four in ten regularly play video games, while more than half have downloaded a radio or music-centric app.
They're Facetiming with grandkids, posting photos on Instagram, and watching TV on-demand on Netflix. As the president of Brand Keys, Robert Passikoff, told the New York Times' Janet Morrissey, “This group is the forgotten generation.”
That's remarkable when you consider how many of the most influential people on the planet are Boomers. Bill Clinton, Oprah, George Clooney, and Meryl Streep – yup, they're all card carrying Boomers (and probably members of AARP). And yet, advertisers and brand managers can't run away from them fast enough, as we know all too well in radio.
But now, a respected corporate executive and ace marketer, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, is once again flying in the face of conventional wisdom by aggressively marketing his services to people who share their chronology with Julius Erving and Sally Field.
Legere has made some pretty unconventional marketing moves in the past two years, vaulting T-Mobile into the telecommunication forefront. He's positioned his service as the “Un-carrier,” going after the big boys, like Verizon and AT&T. Legere is a brash, active social media user, regularly responding to customers who reach out to him.
And he recently posted a 5:27 testimonial on Twitter that's a pretty compelling argument for catering to the Boomer generation. Legere doesn't mince words, his language is salty (the video is NSFW), but he makes the case that advertisers – and of course, other wireless carriers – should show Boomers “a little respect.”
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) August 7, 2017
Another Boomer, Aretha Franklin, would no doubt agree with Legere's position, as would the legions of Baby Boomers out there making the American economy hum.
Sometimes it takes a savvy and bold captain of industry to get the ball rolling.
As marketer Passikoff explained:
“While the Millennials are sharing stuff, Boomers are buying stuff.”
When will radio's advertisers get the message?
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.