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How to sell to baby boomers

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

If you're trying to sell to baby boomers or persuade boomers to see things your way, the worst thing you can do is to make them feel old.

It's a fact of life that banks, financial advisers, health care providers and a host of other businesses whose customers are at the retirement planning stage of life don't seem to understand, but it came across loud and clear to market researchers at Ball Corp., says John Saalwachter, manager of marketing and business development.

Founded in 1880, Ball Corp. is a business that has been around the block. It got its start making wooden jugs for kerosene, but made its name selling Ball mason jars. A few years ago, it sold the rights to the Ball mason jars name, but it continues to make packaging, mostly cans and other metal containers.

Its study of how to reach the boomer marketplace concluded three things besides "don't make a boomer feel old," all of which also have implications for anyone who is trying to persuade a boomer to do something.

No compromise. Boomers see retirement as a third  act of their lives and want it to be just as rich and energetic as their earlier years. They expect to be able to do more of what they want -- whether it is travel, outdoor activity, experimentation, work -- rather than less, and expect products and packaging that will help them make that happen.

Don't offer a senior version. As boomers age, they want products and innovations that work for everyone, not just someone who is older than 60. Don't say the easy-open cap is for people who have arthritis. Instead, point out that the new cap is useful for people in a hurry, who don't have time to drop everything and use two hands to open a jar.

Wow them with function, not gimmicks. Boomers don't relate to gimmicks. Make the product stand out because it does what it is supposed to do and does it well.

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August 17, 2011 at 10:37 am

Don't make a Boomer feel old?

Isn't that the truth for anyone above the age of 50?

Why is this now such a revelation when talking about "Boomers"?