The Mistake: Not Engaging The Largest Consumer Market – The Baby Boomer

Though it may seem as though the entire tween population is the consistent and unavoidable movie theater crowd, recent films and TV shows have proven that with the right script and the right cast, the baby boomer is the actual market to target.

Brands have a phenomenal opportunity to engage with these customers through new entertainment content specifically being created for this market.

Older audiences have been incredibly underserved as an entertainment media audience, but Hollywood has started to realize the major opportunities being missed as a result, which provides brands a phenomenal opportunity to engage with this, the largest generational customer base.

The baby boomer generation is massive, the largest ever born in U.S. history. Healthier, more active, and more likely to stay in the workforce longer than their parents, boomers are far more affluent with money to spend. It is estimated that baby boomers will control 70% of the nation’s disposable income over the next 20 years. As such, baby boomers offer the most disposable income – and free time – available to spend while watching movies.

Baby boomers are one of the hottest markets to Hollywood right now, and a multitude of films are in pre-production, offering phenomenal starring roles for brands eager to engage the audience. Below are five ways to tap into this opportunity before your competitors do:

1. Oldies but Goodies: Align your brand with content that is already proven to capture the baby boomers attention.

As for any age group, nostalgia is an incredibly effective advertising strategy. Research proves that to transcend cultures and tap into emotions that fuel purchase action as a result of the increased feelings of connectedness.

NBC figured this out with the Holiday season broadcast of The Sound of Music Live!, bringing back the classic in true throwback form: as a live televised musical, a format not utilized since the Eisenhower era. The program drew 18.6 million viewers with a median age of 55.

2. Books which already have an established baby boomer fan base.

Brand managers can also look to the NY Times best sellers list to see what books have resonated with baby boomers. Books that have proven to be successful films geared towards baby boomers: Philomena, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and virtually any feature adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel. Hollywood currently has acquisitioned over 100 books slated to be turned into films in the near future, and baby boomer targeted content are amongst them.

3. TV shows and feature films with actors who appeal to the baby boomer demographic.

In order to appeal to this growing number of older viewers, numerous TV shows have recruited older actors. CBS brought on 66-year-old Ted Danson and notable Cheers alum to the cast of CSI in 2011, while Tom Sellack, 69, joined the cast of Blue Bloods. Mark Harmon, 62, has been the star of NCIS for over a decade now. And this coming fall, Scott Bakula, 59, will join the cast of the spinoff NCIS: New Orleans. Even Fox, the network with the youngest audience, brought on 46-year-old musician Harry Connick Jr, who has become a favorite of the mom viewers.

As for films, any project Meryl Streep is attached to tends to garner high box office numbers, particularly with baby boomers. Actors such as Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, and Bruce Willis – all who are over the age of 50 – are more than just relevant names at the cinema, and continue to drive and deliver strong numbers at the box office.

3. Don’t be afraid to partner with projects who are taking modern-day risks.

The 50+ generation may be older, but they are not old. In fact, they are the leaders in technology adoption and media consumption.

An example of this is the Oscar-nominated film Gravity and its use of 3D technology. In the past, the most predominate use of 3D has been geared more towards children, as most would assume that kids would be the most eager and willing to embrace the advanced technology.

With Gravity, however, with the combination of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney being an older cast, the technology married with the storyline performed extremely well at the box office. The film succeeded in capturing an older audience who were more than willing and able to pay in the extra dollars for 3D, and grossed over $221 million with 59% of the audience being predominantly older.

As technology evolves, so are baby boomers, said Beth Brady, global head of Nielson Marketing. And it’s something marketers must not forget. “Don’t tell them [baby boomers] they’re old because they do not think they’re old. They think, ‘Not only am I not old, but 50 is the new 30,'” said Brady.

4. Create strategic, promotional partnerships with film and TV projects.

One of the best ways to leverage a brand experience interwoven into content appealing to baby boomers is to create strategic, promotional partnerships that live outside the theater using already planned brand media or available retail space. Sponsor screenings or explore ways to work with the film’s marketing department with grass roots efforts. The possibilities are endless. This allows the brand manager to create a multi-prong campaign strategy that resonates and creates higher awareness and engagement.

Fox Searchlight’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring two actresses in their 70s and targeted to people over 50, was the breakthrough movie that had studios immediately adding films to their slates that appeal to the baby boomer demographic. Fox Searchlight even held screenings through American Association for Retired Persons and specifically targeted retirement hot spots, including Arizona and Florida. The comedic drama ended up surpassing $100 million at the box office on a $10 million budget, an overwhelming response that was well beyond the production’s expectations.

Identifying the baby boomer generation as a valuable audience is the first step. In order to strategically align your product with these types of opportunities and optimize exposure to the baby boomer audience, working with industry experts who understand the role each generational group plays in the modern entertainment world is invaluable. Tap into this underserved consumer group – with money and time to spend – before your competitors do.

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