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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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