At a local PR seminar this week, the speaker discussed a few of his company's corporate case studies, most of which focused on new technology and communication channels....
It isn't the first time I've heard marketers refer to their PR activities in podcasting, online social sites (like MySpace), and other new media channels.
Yet I can't help thinking - how much of this new technology is embraced by Baby Boomers? It's one thing if a company is targeting consumers under 40. But, what if the target markets include a variety of age groups? Since I represent the 50+ (just barely), I do have some personal experience as a bonafide Baby Boomer. I'm not a market research expert, and admittedly, I haven't read any reports on this topic, but I can attest to the fact that I am likely the most technologically advanced of my entire social circle, probably because I'm a marketer.
Many of my friends can manage basic computer tasks, like e-mail and word processing. Some even know how to use Excel and accounting software if they run their own businesses. And, depending on their interests, a few know how to use digital cameras and some other electronic toys. But, beyond that, the majority wouldn't know a podcast from a text message or an RSS feed from a blog, and frankly, don't care. Simply researching the Internet or playing movies on their DVD's can be challenging for some of them.
My friends see many of the newer communication channels as options for their kids. Remember, we're the generation that grew up writing college term papers on typewriters using carbon paper. We're talking the dark ages here! As a teenager, I opted NOT to take typing in high school to show solidarity with the women's movement that told me that I could have any career I wanted, beyond a secretarial one. Who knew there would be computer keyboards and online chat rooms? My four typing fingers have to dance all over the keys just to get out one e-mail.
Many of us are the 60's and 70's generation of peace, love, drugs and rock 'n roll. Plus, we've lived through major social changes like the sexual revolution, women's liberation, the civil rights movement, and the redefined family unit. There is no way we are easily going to accept becoming "seniors" and all the stereotypes that it represents.
But, we also have another reality. Many of us have kids in university, aging parents who require caretaking, and the pressures of planning for our retirement years, as we will live longer and healthier than our parents did. Plus, those I know in their 50's are still working their tails off to pay for all this. Practically speaking, who has any energy left to learn the latest software, buy the latest techno gadget and read its manual, or press cell phone buttons to send a message when a simple phone call is faster? Besides, our joints are beginning to show some wear. Those buttons are not only small; who can see the letters without reading glasses anyway?
So, unless one of you can show me evidence that Baby Boomers are adopting all the new-fangled communication channels in large numbers, those young marketing experts may want to re-think how to reach us. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first to say so.
"Hello? Can you hear me now?"
Take the first step (it's free).
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