Upfronts 2013: Demo Doesn't Want to Sing 'Hope I Buy Before I Get Old'

Baby boomers may be exiting monetizable Nielsen numbers, but their value to advertisers remains high

Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013

In just six years, the generation
that once defined television will,
by its own definition, “disappear.”
That’s when the youngest of the baby
boomers (people born in 1964, the cutoff
year according to the U.S. Census Bureau)
will turn 55, exiting the last monetizable
Nielsen demographic. In fact,
the last of the baby boomers are already
halfway out the door—they turn 50 this
year, leaving the so-called “advertiserdesired”
18-49 demo group behind.

And just like that, more than 80 million
viewers—with an estimated spending
power of more than $3 trillion—will
no longer be considered relevant.

Alan Wurtzel, president, research
and media development, NBCUniversal,
who has been outspoken on the subject
of baby boomers, disagrees. Though
they are exiting the demo, “it doesn’t
mean that they’re not there,” Wurtzel
said. “But if they’re not being counted,
we’re doing ourselves a disservice in
terms of how we count people and how
we monetize them.”

Wurtzel asked Nielsen to consider adding
a new demo break in its published reports:
55-to-64-year-olds. Nielsen does
provide demographic information for
that age group, but most companies do
not have the time or manpower to cull
the numbers themselves, Wurtzel said.

“If Nielsen would put [the 55-64 demo]
into the reports, I believe we could begin
to get people to become familiar with
how those folks are behaving,” Wurtzel
said. “When we changed from household
ratings to 18-49 as the currency…people
got used to it. I think that over time, the
same thing could happen.”

Marketers may be reluctant to adopt
the 55-64 demo because, as Wurtzel addressed
as part of a panel discussion on
cable network RLTV’s Rethink 50+ Town
, if advertisers don’t have to pay for
an audience, they won’t push to.

“There isn’t an agency or client that I
know of who doesn’t secretly agree that
this age group is extremely important,
extremely influential and very powerful financially,” Wurtzel said on the panel.
“They just don’t want to pay for it.”

Boomers Aren’t All the Same—And They Like Technology, Too

Even as boomers’ value skyrockets, a
misconception is that their brand choices
remain stagnant while younger consumers
are more apt to make new decisions and
are therefore more important to target.
According to an August 2012 report from
Nielsen and BoomAgers called “Introducing
Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable
Generation,” baby boomers are just as
brand loyal as any other consumer—
and that extends to television.

Targeting them all at once is a mistake,
says Erin Vitellaro, managing director,
client leadership at Mindshare Chicago,
leading the Kimberly-Clark account.

“Age doesn’t really define a baby
boomer,” Vitellaro said. “It’s more about
their life stage and mind-set, and you
need to plan accordingly.”

People are living longer and are retiring
later; younger boomers may still have
children in the house, while the older set
are empty nesters. Counting them as one
group can lead to missed opportunities,
especially in regard to technology.

“We’re starting to play with more
emerging channels, because we know
that the younger baby boomers still
with children in the household have
a stronger relationship with technology.
We need to treat them differently,”
Vitellaro added.

Reaching consumers online has been a
focus of advertisers, but the emphasis has
been on millennials, not boomers. The
Nielsen/BoomAgers study shows that
boomers represent a third of all online
and social media users; furthermore, an
eMarketer study conducted in February
2013 shows that one in five digital
video viewers is a boomer. By the time
they all leave the Nielsen demos, boomers
will represent 70% of all disposable
income—a group most likely to purchase
the pricey tablets and smartphones on
which they watch digital video.

For one of Kimberly-Clark’s products,
Depend Real Fit, Vitellaro says Mindshare
specifically used online video to
target male baby boomers. The shortform
video features professional athletes
and runs primarily in sports content,
underscoring an important aspect of the
way boomers view themselves—not as
couch potatoes, but active.

Happiness, Health and Wealth

RLTV launched a new brand identity
in November 2012 to capitalize on baby
boomers’ adoption of technology and to
move away from the “retirement” misnomer
in its original name (Retirement
Living TV). The relaunch included a
“destination for video, linear programming,
video-on-demand and online,”
said Paul FitzPatrick, president and CEO
of RLTV, which has boosted its Web traffic threefold since the effort began.

Its overall new tagline, “Experience
Matters,” represents what FitzPatrick
calls the network’s six verticals: exploration, finance aid, health and wellness,
issues and answers, relationships and
transformation. FitzPatrick says the
network stepped up its programming
investment, introducing shows such as
Second Act, which premieres April 17.
Second Act
follows Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition carpenter Paul DiMeo as
he helps older people transition into a
new career.

“There is clearly a desire to see content
and advertising aligned with [baby
boomers'] more aspirational, positive,
optimistic view of life,” FitzPatrick said.

In fact, Nielsen/BoomAgers demonstrated
it in its report: People get happier
as they get older. Not only do they
want to consume news (which they do
in droves), they want entertainment that
coincides with how they feel.

“Boomers are saying, ‘If you don’t
speak to me and if you don’t deal with
me, we’ll go find somebody else,’”
Wurtzel said. “An advertiser can’t assume
that they are going to be there—
they have to follow them.”

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