The impending implosion of Baby Boomer spending threatens to send the U.S. economy into a Japanese-style “Lost Decade” marked by low GDP growth and high unemployment. There’s a very real possibility that the U.S. economy might face low growth for the foreseeable future. This possibility rests squarely in the hands of Baby Boomers. The generation that overspent in the past 30 years will under-spend in the next 30, and the Gen X-ers and Millennials among us will continue to pay the price.
But there’s still hope. Here are a few best practices to consider for loyalty marketers seeking to maintain relationships with aging Boomers:
1. Emphasize experiences.
The importance of experiential rewards to many loyalty-marketing initiatives is a direct result of Boomer interest in self-actualization—and the hunger for unique experiences will likely not abate just because they’re entering their 60s. And because many U-Boomers will be working longer than they planned, reward programs will continue to play a central role in helping these older consumers fulfill some long-deferred dreams.
2. Enable the Boomer legacy.
Once tagged the “Me” generation, Boomers are transforming themselves into a “We” generation. Boomers aren’t just jumping on the cause bandwagon; while green marketing initiatives are often targeted squarely at Millennials, for example, it was the Boomers who first celebrated Earth Day in 1972 and drove Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to the forefront of public consciousness. A 2007 survey by AARP Services and Focalyst reports that 70 percent of Boomers say they feel a “sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.”
Loyalty marketers can help by emphasizing cause-related partners and reward options. Ultimately, though, it will take executive-level commitment to sustainability to help build brand connection—and you can’t fake it.
3. Harness the power of Boomer women.
Here’s a little-known fact: Until 1973, a woman couldn’t get a bank loan without her husband or her father’s signature. The drive and determination among Boomer women to demand an equal share of the economic pie will help them seek out value in their brand relationships even as they enter their 60s.
4. Continue the Discipline.
To enable Baby Boomers to power the economy well into their senior years, loyalty marketers need only continue the discipline that they’ve spent the past three decades refining—marketing to individual consumers based on their needs, wants and desires. Boomers will find the brands that resonate with them and continue to fuel revenue and growth for years to come.
Rick Ferguson is editorial director of Colloquy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.