Boomer Van Morrison: the new Nostradamus for Silicon Valley
The cool thing about the predictions of Nostradamus (1503-1566) is that you can pretty much retrofit any outcome into the sage’s pronouncements. Thanks to the Boomers, the last few decades have seen a resurgence of interest in the prescient old gent who lived over 400 hundred years ago. That’s plenty of time for pundits and seers to figure out just what he meant; plus, he’s off the hook for any explaining.
Not to be outdone, we channeled – well, Googled – our inner Nostradamus and uncovered a breakthrough reference to Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. No, really. Honest.
In Century II, Quatrain 89 below, line three clearly means Silicon Valley and line four may apply to IBM – or not, depending on their attorneys’ level of indignation.
- One day the two great masters will be friends,
- Their great power will be seen increased:
- The new land will be at its high peak,
- To the bloody one the number recounted.
Nostradamus was not alone in his insights about future life in The Valley. Boomer Van Morrison nailed it in 1971 with Wild Night Is Calling “… all the girls walk by, dressed up for each other.”
The clairvoyant meaning is clear: in the self-centered Silicon Valley Millennial ecosystem, how the in-crowd appears to one another is all that matters. Boomers are just not on the radar screen of cool.
True, Washington Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa has written about the value of older entrepreneurs, and consultant Jon Nathanson has opined in Slate on Boomers as targets for healthcare start-ups. However, few marketers realize the 50+ space is already a huge source of revenue for everyday tech products.
For instance, consider the 36 million PC/iPad tablets we bought 2012 thru 2014, and the 15 or so million more we are on track to buy in 2015.
Boomers billions go uncontested in the tablet arena
Data researcher Statista estimates Americans bought 35 million PC/iPad tablets in 2012; in 2015 they project a volume of 44 million. That’s a lot of finger prints on a lot of screens.
Of these, surveys by the Pew Research Center suggest about one-third are bought by consumers aged 50-plus – Boomers, seniors and, this year, the first arrivals from Gen X.
Applying Pew’s demographic penetration estimates to U.S. Census population data generates some impressive sales numbers.
Not only do Boomers buy a huge number of tablets, but we also like using smartphones – a lot. Quoting a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, ADWEEK reported in October, 2014, we are twice as likely to intentionally click on a smartphone mobile ad as are Millennials, with Gen X falling in between. Yes, twice as likely!
So it’s beyond strange that Boomers don’t feature in much mobile device marketing.
Madison Avenue claims to leave no stone unturned in the search for mobile ad opportunities, but it ignores the 50+ marketplace.
… all the girls walk by, dressed up for each other …
Let your fingers do the walking: Boomers respond to creativity
The 20th century was a mixed blessing in terms of advertising. On the one hand, it was home to an old philosophy that has outlived its relevancy: supposedly, American consumer adaptability dims at age 50, after which we are not worth targeting by mainstream brands.
On the other hand, it created great and durable advertising. In 1999, awash in nostalgia for the departing millenium, Advertising Age listed its top 15 slogans of the 20th century; coming in at #12 was the Yellow Pages – Let Your Fingers Do The Walking.
Well, Boomer fingers are still walking up a storm.
Manufacturers of tablets, smartphones – and the rest of Silicon Valley’s digital treasure trove – would do well to pay us a little more attention. Brands that want to steal market share from their less savvy competitors need only remember all those truckloads of PC/iPad tablets that just kinda drift their way, uninvited.
The Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965, numbers 93 million and owns over 70% of U.S. household net worth. If we were a country it would be the world’s 15th most populous – the 15th Nation™ – and a larger, affluent market than any EU nation and far bigger than Canada and Australia combined.
Fortunately, there are some Millennial leading edge Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue disruptives out there. We invite them to let their fingers do the walking to the 15th Nation for profits and market share.