Selling to older women. Is there a different dynamic? What are they buying? How do they shop?

According to ImmersionActive.com the peak age of vehicle buyers shifted upward from 35-to-44 to 55-to-64 in 2011, and, as of this year, 50 percent of the U.S. population is now over the age of 50. There are 74.9 million Boomers – ages 51 to 69 – in the U.S. The National Association of Baby Boomer Women says there are currently more than 39 million Boomer women in the US.

Female Baby Boomer represent not only a massive portion of the North American population, but one that will inherit more wealth and will control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income over the next decade. These consumers — male and female — spend close to 50 percent of all dollars yet less than five percent of advertising is geared towards them.

Baby Boomers have always had an outsized presence compared with other generations, and that’s translated into their purchasing power. Globally, the spending power of consumers age 60 and older will hit $15 trillion by the end of the decade, up from $8 trillion in 2010.

Who is the Boomer Woman?

Although individual women ages 50 to 70 may still be youthful and vibrant (think Jessica Lange, Iman, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, and Diane Keaton), some companies think marketing to them is not. Most retailers are loath to be seen as “old” or “aging,” and so they shun marketing to women over 40. “It’s not cool to talk to us,” says Stephanie Stahl, a partner in a new online shopping site aimed at women ages 45 to 65. “This demographic is so underserved!”

Boomers are not only focused on having nicer things, they’re also looking for good quality. Specific brands that have a history of excellence – Cadillac, for example – rate well with Boomers.

Boomer women have the time, money, and motivation to take control of their future but are less likely to be swayed by advertising flash and hype. Marketers and advertisers have to do their homework to get these women to pay attention. You’ll need to operate quite differently from the current practices of most retailers.

How do you reach the Boomer Woman?

According to Marti Barletta, considered by some to be the “High Priestess of Marketing to Women,” the most powerful ways for marketers to create relevance and appeal for women is to elicit “That’s me!” moments when a woman sees herself in the situation and your product or service as the solution. “As women approach their 50s,” Barletta says, “they’re even more in tune with ‘That’s me!’ moments than before.

Instead of products or price discounts, Barletta suggests retailers offer experiences interesting to the Boomer woman. “She is in the prime of her life and has time to be adventurous. She doesn’t want another knickknack to sit on the shelf. She wants to live life to the fullest. And if she can share that experience with friends, the reward will be valued even more,” explains Barletta. “Offering gift certificates for spa services, dance lessons, NASCAR rides, day trips, and wine tastings are all shareable experiences that might appeal to your particular Boomer women target. Get creative!”

Barletta encourages you to combine an experience with a cause for a really powerful marketing to Boomer women initiative. Women have a propensity to be the “guardians of civilization.” Therefore, they are much more active in supporting causes, so partnering with a nonprofit will polish your “corporate halo” with Boomer women, who are actively looking for ways to make the world a better place and leave a legacy.

An example of a good experiential marketing/cause marketing combo might be a tree-planting picnic sponsored by a hybrid car brand, suggests Barletta. Interested Boomer women could bring a friend or two, plant a tree, enjoy some live music over lunch and leave with a seedling memento of the occasion in her goody bag.

Jeff Mowatt suggests companies hire mature employees who can relate to your target market; not students who have no interest in the products they’re trying to sell.

Women nurture lots of people. While classic sales theory emphasizes benefits to the individual, asking “What’s in it for me?” you’ll get more response from a woman by telling her what’s in it for the people she’s responsible for, her spouse, parents and children. In fact, she’ll often take action sooner in order to help someone else.

Social Media is Her Friend

A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows Facebook was the most useful platform for reaching this demographic. According to Pew, 62 percent of internet users ages 65 and older use Facebook, and 72 percent of 50 to 64-year-olds use Facebook as well. Facebook has the highest number of users in these age ranges, though many of these users prefer to share media from another source instead of posting something themselves.

In an article at Business News Daily, Laura Simis, inbound specialist of Coalmarch Productions, suggests that Pinterest is a good social media platform to focus on if women are part of your core buying demographic. She says this visual platform helps connect you with communities that share interests, so post photos or videos that will help your business connect with the community.

An article at MediaPost says Boomer Women want to identify with your advertising. She is looking for that flash of recognition that sparks a connection between her and the real people, real situations, real product usage and actual reactions that tell her you do get who she is.

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