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3 Tips to Get the Baby Boomers to Love Ya

by Guest Blogger  |  
August 9, 2011

A guest post by Paul Prisco of Dog Food Design.

Consider the fact that by 2030 Baby Boomers will outnumber those less than 20 years of age. Not so youthful or sexy for the future of America? Right now, there are almost 80 million baby boomers (and growing) with a huge capacity to drive consumer spending.

Baby boomers are one of the most loyal and active users of direct mail. It's been part of their daily routine for quite some time and that's not going to change anytime soon---regardless of the Internet, mobile, and social media.

When crafting a direct marketing program for baby boomers, consider the process of ergonomics, which is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. Great examples of brands that are adapting to this demographic shift are Ford, CVS and HP to name a few. Aging does bring on a unique set of changes to the body and mind, which does affect how you should approach direct mail in a holistic way.

Here are three key ways you can leverage the power of ergonomics to connect with baby boomers in a relevant and meaningful way:

1. Mail Package Format
The power of touch and physical ergonomics is one way to connect with boomers. Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, and some of the anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. It sounds a bit cliché, but arthritis is a real concern for boomers. Handling small items can be a task for some, so:

  • Simple is best when deciding on a direct mail package format. Avoid using complex folds to deliver your offer.

  • Go big with your mail package size if you can afford it, which will allow for larger mail package components (OE, Letter, Reply Mechanism, etc.). This will deliver an easier handling experience while providing more real estate and should be most effective.

2. Overall Type Size
This approach would involve the cognizant side of ergonomics and be the most easily to implement. Cognitive ergonomics is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. As we age, it gets tougher to scan, read, and recall type with a small point size.

  • Consider headline point sizes of at least 14 point and body copy size of no smaller than 10 points. While offer and copy points are most important, if they cannot be read easily, you don't have a shot.

  • Avoid serif fonts that will become increasingly difficult to read when reduced. This applies for both print and digital marketing strategies.

  • Do remember overall recall is higher with print media in general.

3. Icons
The use of simple and easy to decipher illustrations is another use of the cognizant side of ergonomics. Icons serve as a great platform when trying to communicate key subject areas or benefit points.

  • Less is more when making a quick connection.

  • Icons are a great substitute for costly photography, which if not done tastefully, will be a complete turn off to baby boomers.

The average baby boomer now cites 68 as the new retirement age, which is up from 65.5 back in 2003. There's no doubt the failure of the economy has contributed to boomers working longer and harder. This means your direct marketing programs will have to do more to connect with this busy, distracted and potentially lucrative demographic to deliver more brand value.

Paul Prisco is the founder and principal at Dog Food Design, a design and direct marketing agency for brands. He can be reached at 404.829.2704 or

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  • by Baker Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Great concept and points well taken. That said - I'm really thrown off by "...80 million baby boomers (and growing)". The most basic agreed upon definition of baby boomers is "individuals born between 1946 - 1964". While there's certainly some debate about whether the definition is more nebulous, I think this is a possibly misleading statement for your audience. It appears that you're talking about best practices for marketing to an age range demographic *currently occupied* by baby boomers - but the actual number of baby boomers has only been declining since 1965. And of course - there are other cultural nuances relative to the culture of the time in which they grew up which further differentiate their buying psychology from future 47 - 65 year olds born and raised in different times. Again - I think you've made very valid points here, but that parenthetical is stuck in my craw.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Though the specific number is a bit vague, most folks agree there are between 77 to 79 million baby boomers in 2011 ... The St. Peterburg Times, for example, says 77 million ( and other reports, such as from PBS ( and CNN (, agree that baby boomers today number "almost 80 million."

    It's a huge number, isn't it? Wow!

    your friendly neighborhood Daily Fix editor

  • by Harry Hallman Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    So you said "Not so youthful or sexy for the future of America? " I say did you see Jane Fonda (in her 70's) on TV this morning. How about Rachel Welch? Pretty hot boomers and something to consider when communicating with boomers. We are not our parents or grandparents.

  • by Cole Forrest Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Great points on font size. The target demo in my industry are baby boomers and I've had to adjust my DM practices accordingly. Of course the double-edged sword to larger, more visible font is less room for content and information. In addition to making the copy more visible, you have to be judicious in what you actually include with less of a "canvas."

  • by Janelle Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    I agree with Baker. How is the number of Baby Boomers growing? And why do we have to wait until the year 2030 for Baby Boomers to outnumber those less than 20 years of age? There will be less and less Baby Boomers every year.

  • by Jen Thu Aug 11, 2011 via blog

    Good observation. Journalists should be held to a higher standard in regard to the accuracy of their statements. The only way Mr. Prisco's statement could be true is if he's aware of some new time-travel technology, whereby someone used it to persuade our grandparents to have even MORE unprotected sex back in the day.

  • by Julia Stewart Fri Aug 12, 2011 via blog

    Thank you! There's been tons of talk about how the millenials -- aka the "digital natives" -- are going to force business to change everything about how they interact with customers, we forget about the power of the boomers. Type size -- everywhere from the web to packaging -- cannot be overlooked.

  • by harry Hallman Thu Sep 1, 2011 via blog

    Paul is correct about this. Why do you think congress and the government are so worried about social security? First of all people are living longer now than 20 years ago and with medical advances we could see that increase by 2030. Baby boomers will be between 65 and 84 by 2030. He said boomers will outnumber people under 20 at that time. Birth rates are lower than they use to be. A person born now will be under 20 when 2030 comes around and their are certainly a lot less being born than there was between 1946 and and 1964. That is based on trends. I am not a fortune teller.

    Either way it is a great market.

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