Posted by: nickgerlich | April 23, 2008

Gray Anatomy

There are over 67 million active Facebook users. There are over 110 million MySpace users. And the overwhelming majority of them are young. As in under 35.

So is social networking a way of life only for the unwrinkled? The not-yet-balded? The pre-Grecian Formula crowd?

Think again, puppy dog breath.

EonsPerhaps the biggest demographic now being pursued by online marketers is seniors…a term that sends shivers of reality up and down the stiffening spines of 78 million Baby Boomers. But it’s true. There are three times more Boomers than there are teens and 20-somethings, and this group has many desirable traits: discretionary income, leisure time, and computer skills. Sure, they may have vastly different concerns than their offspring and their friends, but they want to be a part of this wave, too, and not just get swept away by it.

So it is no surprise then that sites like Eons are targeting the Boomers specifically with the ability to build MySpace-like profiles and connect with like-minded users.

Yeah, I know…the possibilities for cracking jokes are almost limitless. Friends are now cronies. And the topic du jour is gall bladders and those pesky stones. Shuffleboard anyone?

A quick glance at the Eons home page illustrates the decidedly different concerns of folks in the 50-up group, and rightfully so. A man in his 50s probably doesn’t want to discuss his prostate problems with a young buck trying to find a doe.

And the young buck probably doesn’t want to hear about it either.

But I still had to laugh at some of the “hot topics” making the rounds of Eons…like video uploads (in three parts) of the Happy Days pilot episode. Photos of a hummingbird bathing. And a discussion group focused on the Top 6 Causes of Clutter.

Honey, hold the Metamucil! I think I found a new place to hang out!

While I tip my marketing hat to Eons for seizing the opportunity to zero in on a lucrative demographic, I sure as heck hope there’s more to my golden years than watching lame reruns of the Fonz, sharing pics from the retirement center garden, or organizing my desk drawer. It’s stuff like this that gives old folks a bad name.

On the other hand, it does keep people out of trouble. And the plethora of age-oriented sites popping up is noteworthy. Sites like Escapees bring full-time RVers together. Although the site is not a true Web 2.0 hub of activity, it comes close.

Wisecracking aside, the assimilation of all age groups into E Society is affirming and refreshing. And while I am not yet ready to ponder the cultural significance of when Fonzie jumped the shark, my furrowed brow is raised with delight to see a demographic not being left behind.

Dr “Anyone Out There Remember Disco?” Gerlich



  1. Dr Nick – Glad I found your blog. I’m a geezer marketer. No, I don’t specialize in marketing to my fellow geezers, but I’ve thought about it. When I turned 50-something, I got an invitation to join AARP. It ticked me off. Several years later, I joined and noticed something amazing. Most AARP staffers appear to be under 50. I have coached CEOs and marketing executives to hire young marketers to plan and implement strategies for young audiences. I would advise the same CEOs to hire marketing teams in their 50s, 60s or 70s to develop age-appropriate campaigns. I wonder how your students would respond to such an idea.

    Ken Sethney [marketing coach]

  2. Thanks for your comments. I think my students would approve of the idea. I have tried hard to impress upon them the need to understand consumption differences between various groups, and that the best way to serve those groups is to actually…well, be one of them. Using 30-somethings to sell to 50-somethings is pretty presumptuous and actually quite risky.

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