CTAM Live: Reeling In The 50-Plus Crowd

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BOSTON—Cable marketers can sell advanced services to the 92 million Americans that are 50 and older by relating to them not by age but by "life stage," according to Emilio Pardo, executive vice president and chief branding officer of the AARP.

By way of example, he noted a 50-year-old woman could be a first-time mother, a first time grandmother or a first-time student. Those stages result in different informational needs, he noted.

Speaking on a panel on marketing to baby boomers in a multi-platform world, Pardo said it is a myth that the age group does not embrace technology. They may not be early adopters, but when they embrace a platform, they delve into it deeply, he said.

AARP has adapted and redesigned its Web site twice in the last few years to keep up with two "huge trends" in the demographic: social networking and blogging by members, he said. Downloading to the site is also on the rise, he said.

The top application at AARP's site is casual gaming, he added.

Pardo understands that goods and services can be misperceived, noting that AARP suffers from a "frozen perception" that its members are old and disconnected. In reality, 51% of its 40 million members still work full or part-time, he said.

Marketers must keep in mind the key interest areas of the demographic, he added. Consumers that age are interested in "financial navigation," healthcare issues, travel and entrepreneurship, among other topics, he said. If cable can create this type of content, and deliver it a way that provides the demographic choice, control and flexibility, "you will be rewarded," Pardo said.

The demographic embraces bundles, but they must be promoted appropriately. The demo rejects any grouping that doesn't offer value to them or is perceived as monopolistic, he said, suggesting that "pay as you go" trials may be a good strategy. He also said boomers are not brand loyal; they will judge a product based on individual perceptions of value and convenience.

AARP finds value in multi-platform ad buys, Pardo said. He noted 90% of the organization's media buy in the last year was on cable. A significant portion of the remainder has been spent online and mobile applications are becoming increasingly important, he added.

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