Are Millennials being wooed by advertisers at the expense of Boomers? What do the actual media spends tell us? Is it a zero-sum game?
A recent article lays out the case for why advertisers are still missing the boat by focusing primarily on younger consumers, many of whom are struggling with student loans and other kinds of debt, at the expense of Baby Boomers who have lower debt and much more disposable income.
This is not a new controversy. 20 years ago, we were asking the same questions about the Eisenhower generation. Was it being ignored in order to cater to Baby Boomers?
I don’t think there is a big “aha” insight about this. As a seasoned advertising professional, I can tell you that we don’t neglect good customers and great prospects. We work hard to identify and influence their spending behavior, regardless of age or life stage. This will never change.
What has changed is the media landscape. The days of monolithic media, dominated by network television, are over. Everyone still watches TV but not everyone owns one. Younger cohorts tend to stream their favorite shows, often bypassing the advertising entirely. It’s Baby Boomers and older consumers that subscribe to cable TV. This phenomenon should indicate that television advertising is increasingly Boomer focused, right?
Finding The Right Audience
Where do you—and can you—match your audience to your products? It depends. News channels like Fox and CNN carry ads for catheters, burial insurance, Depends® and Ensure®. These ads are directed at 75+ consumers, not Boomers.
You won’t find those products on sports channels that feature commercials for beer, fast food, cars and especially trucks. This is not surprising since men, of all ages, are the predominate viewers. Does a Corona® get its lime for older men as well as younger ones? I think it does. Do older men as well as younger men drive trucks and eat cheeseburgers? Most definitely.
Millennials are almost anti-brand. They will buy the alternative breakfast cereal rather than Cheerios. Anything but Nike for athletic shoes. They bypass Miller and Bud in favor of local craft beers. It’s Boomers who are picking up the six-packs of Coors Light and Bud Lite, while even Pabst Blue Ribbon is enjoying a sales revival.
Does the advertising imagery skew younger? Who cares? A brew is a brew. A burger is a burger. And a truck is a truck.
Of course, ads should reflect their audience, but many products have multi-generational appeal.
Has all this pontificating made you thirsty? Shall I grab you a Death and Taxes Black Lager? Or just a Budweiser?
SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded companies that market to seniors, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Duff Reiter is an Account Director / Planner at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.