Research the key for businesses hoping to crack mature market
How can today’s businesses profit in the growing mature marketplace?
A panel of Southern Ontario notables with experience in the industry pondered the question at Sheridan College’s Business of Aging: Information Exchange Network (BA:IEN) symposium on April 18 and uniformly noted the complexity of the issue. But if one word emerged repeatedly in discussions, it was: research.
The event was held at the college in Oakville, with FYI serving as a sponsor. Given that the BA:IEN program was hoping to recruit new members, and that its major service is providing information and research on the mature marketplace, the panel’s message could not have been more pertinent.
Among the issues that businesses have to deal with, noted Lina Ko, marketing specialist and proprietor of the website boomerwatch.com, is the vastness and diversity of the boomer demographic – not even considering the decades of seniors who are older than the boomers.
“Even within the boomer segment there is a 20-year age gap,” said Ko. “And to try to lump everybody together and say we are trying to market to baby boomers in a cookie-cutter solution is a grave mistake. Marketing 101, you better understand your audiences and segment those audiences.
“Between age 46 and 65, we are going into different life stages of a boomer’s psyche,” she explained. “I am a boomer, maybe right in the middle, but there are younger boomers, and there is the sandwich generation, and there are some boomers who are empty nesters, there are boomers who are grandparents, there are boomers who are new parents. So if we don’t spend effort in researching what the needs of these different boomers are, it’s not going to work.”
Jacques Major, the managing partner of SCM Marketing Group, put it simply: “You’ve got to research, and research, research, research. So you evaluate the market you’ve got, and then test it, and deliver the messages based on that research.”
Gerald Bramm, founder of Gray Matters Research, advised symposium guests to focus on their specific market and avoid stereotyping all boomers or seniors as being the same.
“You can easily fall back into stereotypes when you are asked how you market to a 50-year-old or 60-year-old,” said Bramm. “It’s going back into very fundamental issues about your target group, and what are the issues you are addressing, whether it’s a seniors home, or cosmetics, or a car manufacturer, it is always going back to the individual consumers that you are trying to target and what you are trying to achieve with your marketing, advertising or promotion.”