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GETTING OLDER, BETTER: ADVICE ON AGING FOR MILLENNIALS

Q&A with barbara hannah grufferman, part three of three

Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Be sure to read part one and part two of the Barbara Hannah Grufferman series.

Why retire, when you can re-imagine?

That's the question Barbara Hannah Grufferman, 58, and thousands of other Boomers are asking. Today, men and women 50 and older are staying active and spending their hard-earned cash by traveling, buying new cars, discovering new hobbies, and investing in new homes.

As the force behind the Best of Everything After 50 website, Grufferman, who produces videos for AARP's YouTube channel and blogs for AARP about lifestyle and aging, has dedicated her after-50 career to correcting the misconceptions that marketers and Millennials have about her generation. Her biggest pet peeve? "I don't want people telling me a product is going to make me look younger," she says. She shared her insights on marketing to Boomers in part three of this series.

As a woman in the 50-and-up demographic, do you feel that beauty marketers are addressing your changing needs?

When I turned 50 eight years ago, definitely not. But I do feel that there has been a shift in the last few years, and there's so much more work that needs to be done. I think that more companies are starting to realize that we are, what I consider, an essential demographic—not just another demographic. We're growing in size, we're living longer, we're healthier. We're always looking for ways to look our best, feel our best, and be our best, now, and as we get older. And we look to advertisers for things like that.

What can advertisers do to better reach you?

I think they're beginning to realize that the best way to reach us is not indirectly—meaning we just happen to see an ad, either in print or on television, that's targeted toward a much younger audience—but directly engage with us.

One of the reasons I think this is true is: when we were younger, we were aspirational. We wanted to look like that celebrity, be like that celebrity, wear that celebrity's lipstick—which is why so many celebrities are used in makeup commercials and ads. 

But that is just no longer who we are, and that's what advertisers must understand. We're not aspirational, we want to now be inspired by others. We want to be inspired by women we see in ads and commercials. We want to know how they do it. How did they lose that weight? How do they look so good even though they're taking care of kids and their aging parents and working all at the same time? This is the reality.

Advertisers need to talk to us and engage with us in terms of what our lives are like right now, today. It's such an important difference, and I don't think they're getting that, still.

Generations have a tendency to misunderstand one another. What do you want Millennials to know about Boomers?

We really want Millennials to know that we are not just going off and retiring like the generation before us did. No, we're re-imagining what life can be next. 

This is something that Millennials need to appreciate—especially if you're marketers. We're traveling, we've got all the money, we're acquisitive, we're inquisitive. We want to buy things, we want to use new technology, we want to travel, we want a new car. We're remodeling our homes; some of us are downsizing once the nest is empty. To properly re-imagine your life you've got to have all the proper tools and toys.

Today, adults ages 50-and-up, like Grufferman, present the biggest marketing opportunity yet they make up one of the most under-served markets. Boomers purchase 50 percent of all consumer goods, own 61 percent of all US financial assets and spend as much time online as 18- to 49-year-olds. 

Ready to reach them? You can access 40 percent of men and women ages 50 and up through AARP's media properties. (Just be sure not to tell them that your product will make them look younger.)