Marketing To Baby Boomers Today

by Steven Muro, President, Fusion Marketing

Baby Boomers’ Attitude Towards Healthy Eating

Baby Boomers aspire to maintain a healthy lifestyle, according to the results of the “Healthy Eating” survey conducted by NPD Group, a market research company based in Port Washington, NY. The survey revealed that the No. 1 motivator for Baby Boomers is eating right. Yet further exploration into the research shows that these aspirations do not always mirror reality.

When comparing consumers’ actual consumption of various food groups to USDA’s HEI (Healthy Eating Index), an aggregate measure of the overall healthfulness of a diet, the findings uncovered distinct opportunities for improving healthful eating habits. The No. 1 opportunity for Boomers is the increased consumption of fresh fruit. This is followed in varying degrees by dairy and vegetables.

The Challenge

Consumers expect to have what they want, the way they want it. They expect information that is clear and relevant to their needs, aspirations, and stage in life, especially in today’s environment. This means bringing the same level of effort, research, and knowledge to marketing efforts that is applied to researching, producing and growing products.

If you think targeted marketing is not critical to the produce industry, think again. The competition is not just the rival grower/shipper across town or from that “inferior” growing region across the country. Fresh produce is up against an entire sweet and salty snack food and industry with billions of dollars in research and marketing resources.

“Produce can’t compete toe-to-toe with these types of monetary resources. We have to be smarter, more targeted and more efficient with our resources,” says Steven Muro, president of Fusion Marketing.

The produce industry can create an advantage with consumers, extend resources and increase its return on investment by utilizing a micro-targeting strategy. The industry can use its strengths to know customers better and get closer to them than the competition in the packaged/snack food industries. But how? By dissecting Baby Boomers further, we can discover how to apply a micro-targeting strategy aimed at this group of consumers.

Who Is “The” Boomer?

According to the latest research from NPD Group, there are two very different segments of the Boomer generation. Young Boomers are those age 46 to 54. Older Boomers are 55 to 64 years of age. Below are the percentages of the population made up of boomers:

Younger Boomers

From 2005 to 2010, younger Boomers increased their annual consumption of fresh fruit by 7 percent. Watermelon consumption has nearly doubled since 2005. Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and cherries have also experienced notable growth. However, grapes, mixed fruit, and nectarine consumption have declined among young Boomers.

Additionally, among young Boomers annual fresh vegetable consumption has risen 8 percent from 2005 to 2010. The leading increases in consumption among young Boomers are green beans, carrots, onions, lettuce and mixed vegetables, while the largest declines are corn and squash.

Older Boomers

Older Boomers decreased their consumption of fresh fruit annually 5 percent, from 2005 to 2010. While bananas are the top fresh fruit consumed by older Boomers, consumption has substantially declined over the past five years. A noticeable decline in grape consumption has also contributed to the overall decline in fresh fruit consumption among older Boomers. Tangerines, watermelon, and apples are among the fresh fruits experiencing growth in consumption by Older Boomers.

Among older Boomers. the rate of eating fresh vegetable annually declined 4 percent from 2005 to 2010. Specifically, older Boomers have increased their intake of mixed vegetables, peppers, and asparagus, while reducing their consumption of corn, cabbage, and tomatoes.

Motives and Implications

According to NPD Group research, the top health motivator for both young Boomers and older Boomers is “feeling healthier.” Another prime motivator for Young Boomers is losing weight, whereas living longer is high on the list for Older Boomers.

“The research reveals just how differently these sub-sets of a traditionally homogenous group of consumers can be. By applying even these top-line findings, marketers of fresh produce can generate real and measurable results. Further research into Boomers and other important consumer targets can yield even deeper and richer results for businesses in the produce industry,” Muro concludes.

Promotions related to weight loss should be targeted toward the young Boomers, whereas the older Boomers may be more interested in messages related to maintaining health longer.