Turning 65 (or up to 67, these days) isn't what it used to be. Gone is the era of expectantly awaiting retirement on your 65th birthday. According to the AARP, 81% of today's Boomers intend to keep working well into their 70s.
Why Aren't Boomers Retiring?
Unsurprisingly, many Boomers delay retirement because they need the money. They have a long way to go to fund any unemployed retirement. And many want to keep their health benefits. However, there are also other reasons. Boomers want to be mentally engaged. They want to feel appreciated and like they are continuing to make a contribution. They also like the camaraderie and teamwork.
Here are some statistics from the AARP on why Boomers will keep working past their official "retirement age."
Why Boomers Aren't Retiring
Need the money
Need the health benefits
Desire to stay physically active
Desire to remain productive or useful
Desire to do something fun or enjoyable
Desire to help other people
Desire to be around other people
Desire to learn new things
Desire to pursue a dream
From our Girlfriend Groups, we gained some insight into why Boomer women prefer to keep working. Here's what Colleen and Susan had to say:
"Work is my most important source of joy; for everyday social life, stimulation, travel, learning and challenge... I also enjoy drawing, singing lessons with my husband and a varying cast of gospel singers, movie club, book club, etc." - Colleen, 56
"I was semi-retired and returned to work full time. I like to get up in the morning and have a place to go. I also missed the personal work ‘relationships.'" - Susan, 62
From a marketing perspective, companies must soon realize that the stereotypical "retirement age" consumer in all likelihood won't actually be retired. The oldest Boomers are just now turning 67, so they have years of work ahead of them. There will be little sitting around on the couch watching TV sitcom re-runs or Hallmark Channel movies while knitting and sipping tea. Is your marketing team ready to communicate with these active Boomers?
Okay, retailers, you've started doing a pretty good job recognizing the importance of marketing to women. But let me give you a little tip-don't waste a woman's time. Women give more consideration to context and have a greater sensitivity to their surroundings than men. When a woman walks into a car dealership, a doctor's office or a bank, she immediately starts receiving and assessing signals that will factor into her overall impression of the product and company. What a golden moment to send her a message! Instead, many companies let her stand-or sit-waiting.
Waiting Time Can Kill Your Brand
Studies show that waiting time is overwhelmingly the single most important factor affecting a shopper's opinion of store service. It's likely that it affects women even more than men, because multi-taskers (most likely women) feel they're being kept from moving ahead on several additional projects. To "uni-taskers," (usually men) waiting, though frustrating, is still on task and still oriented toward the sole goal they are pursuing.
A few principles of retail design, office décor and even common courtesy can go a long way toward overcoming her sensation of wasting time-and your mistake of wasting opportunity:
1. Reduce waiting time for routine tasks by providing alternatives. An example would be check-in at a business hotel, where there are always long lines around 3PM when rooms become available. Instead of having customers wait in line to obtain a key from a desk clerk, why not set up kiosks in the lobby? Guests could insert a credit card and receive an e-key plus directions to the room.
2. Make waiting time more productive. Some places, like Jiffy Lube, and doctors' offices, have waiting time built-in. In that case, help her make good use of it. Recognizing that 65% of auto repair/maintenance visits are handled by women, Jiffy Lube offers free Wi-Fi and HD TV in many locations.
3. Offer some modest amenities and courtesies. Jiffy Lube, as part of its very savvy program to capture the women's market, redesigned its waiting rooms to make them more appealing to women with new furniture and color schemes, free bottled water and Starbucks coffee, and women's interest magazines.
As you see, it doesn't cost a lot to make waiting time more amenable for women-just pay attention to how women prefer to spend their time.
Marketing to Women isn't Over Once You Launch-Listen and Adjust
The Japanese term kaizen means "continuous improvement." Just as with any unfamiliar new endeavor, don't expect to get marketing to women perfect on the first try. No matter how much prelaunch research you do, the consumer will always teach you something when you least expect it (Remember New Coke? How about Motrin's infamous "baby wearing" campaign?) Your research results are essential to kaizen. Without feedback, you can't know what to flaunt and what to fix (although women will let you know in a big way if you do something patently offensive like Motrin launched-try to avoid that!).
Successful marketing to women requires gender-savvy tactics aimed at the five stages in the consumer-planning process:
3. Investigation and Decision
For women, this process is a Spiral Path.
Without concrete marketing strategies for each stage, the female market will either remain ignored or slip through your grasp. Don't let it get away. With a strong product or service enhanced by gender-savvy communications that are constantly tweaked based on your feedback research, you will ensure that the women's market is knocking on your door instead of on your competitor's.
If you are leading the marketing to women charge in an organization skeptical of the power of the purse, it is imperative you capture the results that validate your program's impact. Build measures that track the impact of your marketing to women initiatives-- these systems aren't easy to implement and are hardly ever free, but they are essential to overcoming corporate inertia.
Tracking must be comprehensive and should include elements such as:
- Brand preference
- Repeat purchases
- Customer satisfaction
Measure men as well as women. Many companies fear that by reaching out to women, they may alienate men. But the opposite is actually true-because women have a longer list of wants and seek the Perfect Answer, improving effectiveness with women tends to boost customer satisfaction among men. Track it and prove it.
Presales Indicators Will Be Key
Because women's decision cycle is longer than men's, it's likely that you will see presales indicators from female consumers before you notice strong improvement in actual sales. These indicators might include:
- Increased awareness
- More favorable perceptions
- Increased requests for information and sales materials
Given the pressure companies face to deliver quarter by quarter, your ability to sustain marketing to women programs throughout the ramp-up time may depend on your ability to demonstrate preliminary movement in the right direction using these "stand-in" measures.
How to Track Presales Indicators
Quantitative surveys conducted via phone, mail or online and mall-intercept are a great way to track changes in women consumers' awareness of, attitude towards and interest in your product at the expense of your competitors.
Given that the competitive future of your company may well depend on its ability to market successfully to women, it would be a really good idea to put those tracking systems into place right from the start.
Not every company is structured to measure the results of their marketing efforts by gender, which makes determining the success of marketing to women strategies difficult-if not impossible. If you can't measure something, is it worth doing at all?
I'd like to remind you of the McNamara Fallacy, former U.S. secretary of defense Robert McNamara's answer as to what led the U.S. to defeat during the Vietnam War. Charles Handy outlined the fallacy in The Age of Paradox:
The McNamara Fallacy
Step One: Measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.
Step Two: Disregard that which can't be easily measured, or give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.
Step Three: Presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness.
Step Four: Say that what can't be easily measured doesn't really exist. This is suicide.Ideally, your company will start to collect gender-specific data to effectively measure response to marketing to women (and men!) efforts. In the meantime, though, avoid falling into the trap of assuming that what can't be easily measured isn't important or doesn't exist. You don't want to be either blind or suicidal, now do you?