Brands need to look at ‘gray’ with a new lens(not coloured)!


The Age-Old ” Old Age ” Taboo- when will we grow up?  We are so youth obsessed, we remain squeamish frankly about the very notion of getting older. Aging, indeed is frighteningly close to…a Taboo Subject.


If brand owners and marketers had their way, they would market only anti slip bath mats to baby boomers because apparently they do not consume or need anything else( at least that seems to be the perception which for once is reflecting in reality).


I have long held the view that demographics( and the world-wide view it dominated) is dead. Long live demographics. Context, intent, psychographics and hierarchy of needs as defined by Maslow are the dominant spirit driving bucket lists, consumption and nice to have’s. Throw in some must-haves into the mix as well. Marketers are to be tapping into this.


In a culture and the Grand Marketing Narrative that continues to treat the youth as it’s hero, this rant is a shake me up wake up call to pick up the spilled beans and smell the coffee. Cold pressed or not, I don’t care. But marketers and brand owners are hard pressed more than ever to align with the new(knew) normal.


I for one is definitely in baby boomer territory (and very soon will get elevated to Geezer status happily!!)- will someone help me and many many millions like me as we continue our ” travels “? If so, we will shower you with riches. And, actually speaking, will do so for many years to come. Old is gold, has never seen a better time to re-express itself. And come into the spotlight(read worthy target audience with taste, disposable income and a willingness to spend | consume).


When was the last time you saw a communication imagery that respects the buying power of the baby boomer segment? Except for say health insurance? What about cars, real estate, cruises, gadgets, wellness, beauty, education..? Here is a segment that is willing to explore, experiment, expedite- why are they being ignored by brands and marketers especially when significant buying power is domiciled in them? Ivy League marketers and blue chip agency gurus, let us answer this question!


Extracting a summary from the Economist of some years ago- this is to do with car maker Ford. Most of Ford’s design engineers at the time were under 40. Ford came up with a concept called the ‘third-age suit‘ so that its designers grasped the needs of aging drivers. The outfit adds almost 30 years to the wearer’s age by stiffening the knees, elbows, ankles and wrists. It also adds material at the waist- a rotund stomach affects people’s ability to sit easily- and it has gloves that reduce the sense of touch. Ford’s lucky designers were also required to wear yellow scratched goggles so that they know what is it like to have cataracts. The exercise was indeed fruitful. Then on, the company’s cars have become easier to get in and get out of, their seat belts are more comfortable to wear, glare has been reduced, and the controls are more readable and reachable.


In a numbers obsessed profession such as marketing and branding, I encourage you to review the numbers, the market size, market potential. You get to see what has been missing9the wood for the trees). If a group controls the vast majority of wealth and discretionary income, is the market. No Noble(prizes) for guessing that.


Which is not to say the argument here is ‘ about ‘ marketing. Rather: it is about marketing..and product development..and distribution..and customer experience..and strategy. In summary, here is what we can conclude:


Think Boomers | Think Trillion$$$ | Think Brand Promise | Think Strategic Realignment


A quick dashboard view of the past and the present, then and now, was and is:-


Gray means “gray ” to Gray means green(money)


Retirement to Rejuvenation


” Borrowed Time to ” Decades to Go


Old=Decrepit to Old=Active


Marketing Mantra ” 18 to 44″ to Marketing Mantra ” 50 & up


” Older people don’t switch brands ” to ” Older people make brands


Fountain of “youth ” to Freedom of “age “


“Maturity” to Longevity


” Running out the clock ” to revving up the engine


Lost earning power to New spending power


” I am starting to clip coupons ” to ” I have not yet begun to spend” !


The old joke is being rewritten ” Age before beauty “- it is now “ Age and Beauty “. The boomers are not acting their age. They are screaming from the rooftops sayingI have a lot left to do. And I can afford to do it “.


Anyone listening? They have spend a lot on sophisticated hearing aids by the way!!!


Gray at the temple? It is the temple of bloom!



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