Enough about Millennials already: Can we talk about another powerful consumer group please?

Let’s decelerate the conversation about the importance of Millennials. Sure, they are 80 million strong, and seem to be the clear consumer target for most brands, but marketing efforts are too focused around Millennials. It’s time for brands to bring Baby Boomers back into the picture.

Baby Boomers’ free-spending tendencies and access to greater than average disposable income make for an intriguing, lucrative market segment for your brand to target.

Instead of focusing our attention on a potential market, we should turn to a more promising demographic- the tried and true Baby Boomer generation.

Even though Millennials represent a major potential buying force, our findings show they are reluctant to actually spend money. Millennials face an overwhelming amount of college loan debt, which keeps them from contributing economically to our society. Millennials aren’t eating out and they aren’t buying homes. In fact, one in five are boomerangs, meaning they live in their parent’s homes, and are eating at home more often than the general population.

A new lens

In 2015, there were an estimated 74.9 million Boomers. They have a spending power of $2.3 trillion, and some estimates show this demographic controls 70 percent of disposable income in the U.S.

Boomers, free of family financial obligations and focusing on new possibilities, will likely spend in ways that Millennials won’t or simply can’t. Since many Boomers have more disposable income, they are eating out more. In fact, Boomers buy an average of 193 restaurant meals a year, according to Restaurant Hospitality Magazine.

Boomers are also easier to reach and engage with as a brand, because so few brands are even targeting them. Baby Boomers spend the most across all product categories, but are targeted by just five to 10 percent of marketing campaigns, according to Jami Oetting of Hubspot.

Strategy, the secret sauce

Millennials are often praised for their tech savviness, but boomers are equally as interested in technology. A Google/Ipsos study of consumers 45 and over found that the amount of time spent on the Internet and traditional television viewing were comparable. The study found that the Internet is the top source for Boomers to gather information on topics of interest. If Boomers are flocking to the Internet, your brand better be there too.

By implementing an Internet marketing strategy, your brand can measure engagement and optimize campaigns over time. So combining the use of linear TV along with a layer of measurable tools like search and email marketing, a campaign has a precise mix to reach and motivate the Boomer audience into action.

No matter which channels you use to market your brand, you need to understand how diverse boomers are. Because of the diversity, marketing segmentation is essential. Segmentation by life stage and other factors is important to effectively get the right message to the right audience at the right time. Segmentation is key.

The Holy Grail

The holy grail for restaurants is frequency of visits. One of the most important variables to frequency is loyalty. And Boomers are brand loyal when you meet their needs.

Creating a lifetime customer is the most important reason why you should be focusing on this audience.

Completely ignoring Millennials is out of the question. Their importance to brands is clear−they represent the future for the brand. Just don’t target Millennials at the expense of Boomers.

Pretty soon you’ll hear about Gen Next and why you should target this emerging group. But until then, trust me, Boomers will reward the brands that speak to them on their terms. If you provide a level of hospitality that respects who they are, they will reward you by opening their wallets and opening them often.

Why Dairy Brands Need to Re-Think Packaging

dairy, cpg, grocery, milk, yogurt, butter, cows, farm
Just because all cows look similar to most people doesn’t mean dairy products should.

Starting at the top, I spend more time than is normal in grocery stores. I walk down the middle aisles of the store, stopping at random spots to just stare at different types of canned tuna. I was recently shopping for some sweetener, stevia to be exact, and I was looking at all my options. Liquid Stevia, Stevia in the Raw, Organic Stevia and then there was Truvia. I picked up the Truvia, and the packaging was a bit different. It was more of a rectangular shape than the other “square-like” package stevias. The design was simple, different shades of green on the top and a strawberry on a white background. Even though it was more expensive than the surrounding products, I bought it. The lesson: PACKAGE DESIGN IS EVERYTHING.

Product design can create breakthroughs in any category, take soap for example. Method was (and continues to be) a company going up against giants like Procter and Gamble, SC Johnson and Dial that was able to breakthrough with its unique design, making the bottle a statement piece at everyone’s sink with a focus on responsible ingredients. While the packaging was what got the product to stand out on the shelves, the environmental responsibility the soap represents is what really makes the point of differentiation. Since Method’s emergence, we have seen the larger players in this category create products to compete with Method.

Opportunities like this are still out there in grocery stores, I look specifically to the dairy section for the next breakthrough. (Now, I realize I’m about to sound like Andy Rooney, so please excuse me, but) why does every bottle of milk or container of sour cream need to have a cow and a grassy field on it? You know what message this sends to the consumer? That all milk is the same!

When it comes to dairy, all brands are treated equally.

Sometimes the cow looks like a cartoon, sometimes it’ll look like a half cow – half human. Sometimes the grassy field is a rolling one, sometimes it’s flat with a tree in the distance. Regardless of the type of cow or field on the bottle, the real question is why? Even a brand like Horizon, which owns 4.2% of the total organic product market still falls prey to this trap.

Think about the audience. For the most part, the consumers are mothers with children under the age of 18 buying the product. Is it really necessary to put a cartoon cow on your milk? Can’t we re-think what the gallon of milk looks like today?

We discovered from our own research study conducted in Q2 of 2015, 68% of Millennials purchase store brand dairy items (click here to download our study on millennial grocery shopping habits). Knowing that other generations tend to mirror the behavior of the Millennial, I’m going to make the assumption that this 68% doesn’t fluctuate much when you look at mothers older than 34.

So what does this mean? Well, when it comes to dairy, all brands are treated equally. Obviously, you’ll have your mothers that will always choose to buy organic dairy but regardless of that fact, if you are a dairy brand, why are you not doing everything you can (which right now wouldn’t take much effort) to stand out in the dairy aisle?

Another Missed Opportunity – Shamrock Farms

Take Shamrock Farms, one of the largest family-owned dairy processors in the country. They provide dairy products to most of the western United States.

A few points of differentiation Shamrock Farms have over their competitors is that they don’t use the growth hormone rBST and don’t use High Fructose Corn Syrup in their milk. But the brand really doesn’t take advantage of that. They do give small real estate on their packaging to the fact that they are rBST free but don’t take advantage of branding themselves as being “better dairy.” How do they choose to show off their unique product? They put a damn cartoon cow on the carton, just like everyone else.

Product Packaging Done Right

One brand that I think is doing it right is Noosa Yoghurt. Their packaging is very simple with black lettering and the product description is in the color associated with the specific ingredient. The container is different than most other yogurts (theirs is flatter) and it’s a clear container so you can actually see the product. This may not seem like anything groundbreaking but just do a quick Google image search for yogurt brands and you’ll see why Noosa stands out.

It’s only a matter of time before a company comes along and totally changes the way we look at dairy. If it can happen to the soap industry, it can happen to any industry.

Guiding CPG Consumers to Your Product at Grocery

shelves, grocery, CPG, food, marketing, brand, friction
For consumers shopping for CPG requires a GPS.

We spend a lot of time identifying and eliminating points of friction for our clients. We’ve written and spoken about it often. To catch you up, the mobile internet has trained us all that any product or service should be one tap away, or fewer. When we encounter a needlessly complex user flow, we leave and search for an easier way to accomplish our desired task. Leading this trend is the millennial segment (called the Children of Uber in a post by the smart people at Made by Many) obviously because they grew up with the internet and came of age with smartphones.

This is an extreme challenge for any brand using software to provide services directly to their customers. One bad experience and they never come back. Until the next solution fails.

Now imagine you don’t have a direct connection to your customer. They don’t rely on your interface for access to your products or services. In this case, you don’t even get the chance to drop the ball. Someone else does that for you. And in many cases, they don’t feel too bad about it.

For many brands in the consumer packaged goods space, this is the harsh reality. When someone visits a grocery store looking for a particular product, there is no one there to represent the brand. Besides the shelf dominating flagship product of companies like Frito-Lay, friction on the shelf is common and difficult to avoid.

In our recent survey of Millennial grocery shoppers across the country, 83% said they were open to changing brands of just about any product on their grocery list.

And 64% of those respondents said they weren’t sure they’d come back to their original brand once they switched.

For brands offering an interface as customer service – or as the product itself – friction related challenges are difficult. We’ve seen cases of pretty mild bumps in the customer software process causing brand erosion. But for a brand that lives and dies on the shelf, it is vastly misunderstood.

Friction at the Grocery Store

Consider a brand of beans. You plan to make a meal. You know you need the item on your list, “Beans.” In your mind that is a specific brand of beans, in a specific size. You stop at a grocery store on your way home from work, not your usual store. This is not the brand’s fault. The store layout is different, so you travel the length of the store and back to find the correct aisle. Not the brand’s fault.

After two minutes of scanning the shelves, you track down an employee to ask for help. He doesn’t know. “Just whatever’s on the shelf,” he says politely and helps you find something similar. It’s a different size and variety, but it is the right brand. Now you’re totally confused. You’re doing math. Consumers doing math while holding a product is never good for sales. You choose an alternative product. At checkout, the friendly employee tells you the brand you want is on a special display near produce if you want to run and grab them. Too late. You’ve moved on.

There are marketing, production, purchasing and distribution causes for every hiccup presented above. But from the consumer perspective, who cares? You have groceries to buy and meals to make.

On the internet, and even more so in the mobile space, we’ve created paths that are very difficult not to find for someone who is searching. The internet has essentially become a sieve for filtering people to completion of the information they seek, and in many cases a credit card form.

Spending entire days on the internet has trained us to be highly sensitive to breaks in these paths. And every few days, we get off the internet to perform a physical task like grocery shopping. We’re often shocked by the disruptions in our path to complete these tasks. And when we encounter even real-world disruptions, we’ve been trained to look for a back button.