Quite possibly the best marketing to women book of the year comes from Stephen Reily and Carol Orsborn, PH.D. from Vibrant Nation. What Boomer Women 50+ Know, Think, Do & Buy provides an insightful and in-depth look at women 50+.
What I like most about this book is that you hear directly from Vibrant Women, in their own words. Even with my extensive background in marketing to women, I learned quite a few new things. As the authors state in the introduction:
VibrantNation.com is the biggest website that gathers women 50+ exclusively. As a result, those of us who manage the site spend all day not just immersed in the world of women 50+, but listening to what they talk about when they know they are talking only with women their age. We have our finger on the pulse of a fascinating, vibrant tribe of women who populate a Vibrant Nation almost forty million strong.
Key insights from What Boomer Women 50+ Know, Think, Do & Buy
Boomer women may be "the last consumer standing". This demographic is the most likely to start their own business, go back to school for retraining, and open their home and pocketbook to adult children, grandchildren, and aging parents. That's right, there's a good chance her empty nest has filled up again. Boomer women are enjoying the greatest financial stability in their lives. Bottom line, she's got money and she's spending it.
Boomer women trust other women like them. If you're looking for a company spokesperson, try a woman in their age group. "Respondents were much less interested in hearing from a male spokesperson or an opinionated expert who hailed from another life stage – no matter their level of notoriety or credentials." Also, 88% say referrals from other women (even strangers online) are the second most important source after their own experience.
Enough with the stereotypes. This is an educated, experienced, active, up-to-date group. 63% own an iPod or mp3 player, 44% own a GPS, and 30% use Skype and a webcam.
She wants to know that she's not alone. This is a big reason why so many Boomer women have joined Vibrant Nation. I also believe it's important in your advertising efforts.
Ignore her at your peril. As one Vibrant Woman put it, "I decided, totally and irrevocably, to write off all those companies that weren't interested in seeking me as a consumer." The authors point out "She is both indignant and mortified about how hard it is to find just about anyone in the fashion, fitness, and beauty industries who will take her seriously." She's not longer putting up with being ignored. If you don't want her business, she'll shop with someone else who does.
Appeal to her inner philanthropist. This is NOT the same thing as cause marketing – a term that refers to companies that partner with non-profits to encourage a connection in the mind of consumers between the for-profit and the cause they respect. Boomer women can be skeptical of your motivations. You have to do more than just slap a pink ribbon on your front door. You have to be more like Toms Shoes. For every pair of shoes you purchase, Toms give a pair of shoes to a child in need. Women want their purchase to lead to a specific action.
Aspirational marketing to Boomer women does NOT mean showing a bunch of 20 year olds. Boomer women do have aspirations, but they are more interested in "reducing wrinkles rather than erasing them." They are more realistic. In the book they talk about the success of the book How Not To Look Old. It was not necessarily about looking young. It's a subtle difference in wording but it makes a big impact. The authors say that Boomer women, "don't aspire to look like their daughters or granddaughters. Rather they aspire to be the best 50 or 60-year-old they can be. And that's saying a lot with the likes of Sophia Loren, Madonna, Helen Mirren, Kim Catrall and Sela Ward." You don't have to feature 50+ women in all your ads, but never featuring any women 50+ can be a problem.
Also remember this key point: It's the quality of relationships rather than lure of status that drives her decisions.
She reads the fine print. These are savvy consumers and they care about the details. "She goes to great length to read the fine print on the label, studying both benefits and warnings. 60% are willing to pay more for products contaiing quality ingredients."
Let her make up her own mind. There's a mindset that Boomer women are looking for someone to just tell them what do to. Actually, they want a transparent presentation of the pros and cons. She still values your suggestions (if she trusts you) but wants options and choices that are crystal clear.
Don't depict her in a passive position. She doesn't like feeling like a burden or that she needs to be taken care of by others. She is in control, and she is active. Reflect that in your advertising. Instead of showing her strolling along or sitting on a dock, show her as the vibrant active person she is.
Full disclosure – Vibrant Nation is a research partner or mine. One of the reasons I chose to partner with them is because they are such a smart and savvy group. If you're marketing to women, be sure to check out What Boomer Women 50+ Know, Think. Do & Buy.