Your model is dead – ZoomerU

Your model is dead

Marketing programs still teach the “consumer lifestage” model. You want the younger shoppers who are just forming families because they have a lot of new purchasing needs all at once, and their brand preferences are still open to being influenced. You don’t want the older shoppers because their brand preferences are locked in place…and besides, they’re going to die pretty soon.

Makes sense, right?

Sure – if it’s 1960. Or even 1970. Or maybe even 1980, with 65 year olds who were born during the First World War.

But today, the model is…there’s no gentle way to say it…dead. Obsolete. Kaput. And marketers who still cling to it are kissing good-bye to hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and market share.

Yet the model persists.
“They’re not our primary target…”
“They’re important, but we’re getting them anyway…”
“We want to reach the shoppers who haven’t made their brand choices yet…”

Of course, nobody is arguing – ZoomerMedia least of all – in favor of reducing ad spending against younger demos to literally zero. It makes perfect sense to devote some of the marketing pie to younger shoppers who are still formulating their brand choices, and who have a lot of “family start-up” purchases to figure out all at once. That part of the model still makes some sense – except for the awkward fact that “family start-up” is increasingly an event that occurs in the 30s (Gen X) and not in the 20s (Millennials).

But the second part – older shoppers have their brand habits all figured out so there’s no point throwing too many marketing dollars at them – is demonstrably not true. A look at the Fall 2013 PMB numbers quickly establishes the case:

  • 3.1 million Baby Boomers (1945-1965) agree with the statement, “I try to keep abreast of changes in style and fashion.” This is more than the 18-24 group (1.4 million) and the 25-34 group (1.6 million) combined. True, the percentage of Boomers who agree with that statement is 31.5%, compared to 40.9% for the 18-24 year olds and 33.3% for the 25-34 year olds. But the Boomer percentage — combined with the huge size of the cohort – throws off a market size that, against this attribute, that far outnumbers any other age group. It’s a phenomenon we see in all questions – when you look at “body count” (how many actual people are in a particular segment) instead of indices or percentages, you arrive at a group size that is simply too large to ignore. Here are some other good examples.
  • 3.9 million Boomers agree that they cannot imagine life without the Internet. This compares to 1.9 million in the 18-24 age range and 2.6 million in the 25-34 age range.
  • 2.3 million Boomers agree that they like to buy products that offer the latest new technology. Only 1.3 million in the 18-24 age range and 1.6 million in the 25-34 age range follow suit. Of course advertisers should go after them. But at the expense of 2.3 million Boomers?
  • Finally and most importantly, let’s look at all those who disgree with the statement, “In general, I consider myself very brand loyal.” How many are 18-24 and 25-34? 1.3 million and 1.7 million respectively, or 3 million in total. A big number, to be sure – all waiting for your message to win them over. But how many Boomers? 3.8 million – more than the two youngest cohorts combined. 3.8 million who you may not want to talk to because you believe their brand preferences are established and unchangeable.

How many sales dollars, and how much market share, will you allow this dead model to cost you before you change your strategy?

Today's Factoid


That's the number of Zoomers who bought concert tickets online in the past 12 months -- more than any other age group. It's clear -- Zoomers have embraced online shopping and are the most important market in virtually every category. Source: Vividata Spring 2018