Just what are 'the good old days'? Nostalgia presents a pretty picture that isn't always true - but, does it have to be? Why can't the good old days be just what we remember - fun, family get togethers, perhaps. Or, long summers playing around the neighborhood - staying out till dark playing hop-skotch on the broken city sidewalks?
Many of us remember other things - not so pleasant things, but in retrospect, they were minor issues. The best part of being a baby boomer and remembering the good old days is that they were just that... good. And it's the good parts we take with us, adding little touches that may or may not have been part of the reality.
I was reminded of all of this when I was reading an article on MediaPost: Engage-Boomers: Mature Consumers Want To Have Their Cake. And Eat It, Too!
The article focused on the ways boomers act today - noting our new focus on healthy foods. Which is confusing because they also note that recent focus groups cite boomers as unwilling to change eating habits - preferring to take any one of the new medicines to offset any gastrointestinal upsets their regular diet has introduced. I'm confused about how that contributes to our 'healthy' eating habits.
Yes, we're concerned with "heart health" and "bone health" and we don't like heartburn, but my sense is that a whole lot of us refuse to grow up and we aren't ready to think about being 'senior'... with all the attendant issues. Healthwise or otherwise.
The article purports to show marketers how to reach out to seniors. Sigh. Seniors. What is that? A category? A channel? A group of people? Heavens, I know kids in their 20s who act more 'senior' than many of the people my own age. Here's what the article tells marketers to do (with some thoughts from me):
- Formulate products that meet a changing physiology (like ALL people aren't experiencing a changing physiology - honestly, what about pregnant women?)
- Subtly educate them as to what they can do to continue enjoying your products (I object to the word subtly - like they have to 'trick' us into doing what's right)
- Reformulate recipes, add supplements or suggest food combinations (this one seems like a good idea, to me - but not just for boomers - for all people)
- And, the best bullet point of all is to Consider aspects of your brand's heritage that will connect with this market segment, and bring them to the forefront.
According to the article, we boomers not only want to have our cake and eat it, too. We are having cake and eating it, too. I can say that coming from the generation of people who wanted it all, who went out to get it all, and who realized later on that all wasn't what it was cracked up to be, marketers can appeal to us by building experiences that tap into our nostalgia while at the same time allowing us to tell the stories of our lives - never expecting us to depend on reality.
Because reality, really, is all in perception and my perception is that the good old days were good in ways our kids and grandkids will never experience. Slapping on a logo or tagline that mimics what I remember doesn't work because I know you're making it up. Being subtle just insults me because I know exactly what you're doing. And reformulating recipes angers me - because it hints that I can't have what I want ...
Give me what I want. I want to engage with my boomer friends and tell stories that are as much fiction as reality and I want to bring the smells, tastes, and experiences of my childhood with me. If you can't figure out how to do that - just ask. I'll tell you.