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Why Baby Boomer Luxury Purchases Are In Danger

I’m a child of the sixties.

I was fascinated every week by the Apollo pictures in the oversize Life magazine. I watched the death tolls at the end of every CBS Evening News with the man who represented unbiased reporting, Walter Cronkite.

I saw the Beatles premiere on Ed Sullivan. The day John Kennedy was assassinated – when my mom invited the Fuller Brush door-to-door salesman to come in and watch the TV coverage. The riots in LA, Detroit and the rest after MLK was murdered. The summer of love. Anti-war demonstrations. Woodstock. Kent State. The moon landing.

We baby boomers grew up on a steady diet of black and white commercials that included these questions:

  • How about a nice Hawaiian punch?
  • Aren’t you glad you use Dial (don’t you wish everybody did?)
  • Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?
  • Is it live, or is it Memorex?

People really did believe that Sears had the best Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools. Levi’s held up better than the rest and Keds sneakers allowed you to go farther.  It’s back when brands meant something.

It’s back when a box fan was made in America to last, not to meet a $20 price point.

Since there was no Internet, it was when we delivered the day-old news on our Schwinn bikes around the neighborhood.

When my mom shopped for fabric and McCall’s dress patterns. When my dad was the gardener using Scott’s Turf Builder.

Again, it was back when brands meant something.

Baby Boomers were the generation who built Procter & Gamble, Best Foods, Unilever, Macy’s and the rest. And we are still hard-wired to want to see shopping in those terms because we are the generation driving the retail engine.

Spending by the 116 million U.S. consumers age 50 and older was $2.9 trillion last year — up 45% in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the 182 million people younger than 50 spent $3.3 trillion last year — up just 6% during the same decade, according to an analysis for USA TODAY of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Boomer Project.

Photo by Kim Stiglitz verticalResponse

Nowadays CMOs have abandoned the very foundations of a brand.  Twitter is filled with stories about how marketers are paying people to “like” them on Facebook and getting tablet computers into employees hands.

But nothing prepared me for this pathetic example at left provided by Kim Stiglitz at VerticalResponse of GAP paying for people to just say they provided a 10 on their experience – to receive a 20% off coupon!

With all the talk about “transparency” when dealing with the younger generation, GAP is demonstrating they don’t really care about your experience, just lie and get your 20% off.

What an insult to such a once-great retail brand (coincidentally started in the sixties) now reduced to a click to receive yet another discount coupon.

They aren’t asking for what you really think or value, just kidding themselves people really believe this stuff bullshit.

Branding, it was how Boomers were made into the powerhouse shoppers we still are today.

The Retail Generation Gap – Why Premium Brands are Stuck, my new free special report for retailers, can show you that this new generation is being taught its more about appreciating clicking “like” than purchasing premium brands.  I show you the disconnect quickly and easily and ways to get them past that.  Snag your copy now, before your competitors do.



You’re Not Apple, But Your Stores Could Be – Part 2

This is the continuation of yesterday’s post

It is almost laughable how training has devolved into greeters at the front of the store who tell you where the old, discountinued, shop worn, buy-one-get-one leftovers from who knows how many seasons ago are located.  It can feel like having a tour guide to someone’s yard sale.

Thereby leaving the new goods to languish to repeat the same Continue reading You’re Not Apple, But Your Stores Could Be – Part 2 »

You’re Not Apple, But You Could Be – Pt. 1

I was recently on MSNBC talking about the WSJ article, Secrets From Apple’s Genius Bar on Apple’s training for their retail stores.  You can watch the full clip here.

That’s why I was surprised to read an article on the Computerworld blog entitled, “Why Apple sets a bad example” which posited that it is not a business model/method that is transferable.

To me, that negates the laser focus Apple has had since Steve Jobs came back and Continue reading You’re Not Apple, But You Could Be – Pt. 1 »

Groupon Review: Worst Marketing For Your Local Business- Case Study

[This is an excerpt from my new book, Groupon: Why Deep Discounts are Bad for Business] groupon for business book

Just because millions of merchants have fallen under the spell of Groupon, a PR juggernaut, and their like, it doesn’t mean you should. It’s a killer alright, a profit-killer.

And while I’ll give you my opinions afterwards, here is an actual Groupon merchant story not glowing with anything but red ink. Continue reading Groupon Review: Worst Marketing For Your Local Business- Case Study »

Excuse Me, Do You Work Here? 
No, I Fold Clothes

In an article by Jennifer Saranow in the WSJ , Gap Inc. says it has trained “hundreds of thousands” of Gap store employees in the art of folding since the late 1980s.

The folding craze at Gap began in the 1980s when Millard Drexler, who as a boy had sorted towels at his uncle’s towel-delivery service, took the helm as president of the Gap Stores division. Mr. Drexler and his team put tables in Gap stores and had employees decorate them with piles of folded shirts and sweaters. The goal was to better emphasize certain items and color choices and make it easier for customers to sort through clothes.

These former employees now fold their clothing meticulously even going so far as to not be able to shop without straightening up retailers’ folded displays. It isn’t clear whether the next generation of retailers will produce so many compulsive folders.

Contrast that to when I was putting myself through college and the number one thing the seasoned department manager at the Broadway taught me, “Its about selling the merchandise to our customers.”

A pretty display is one thing but it is passive.Imagine if Gap and all the trainers who spent hours getting the perfect crease had instead been learning how to sell the merchandise.

BTW, the trend now is to leave the displays looking a bit messed up – it looks like people were interested in the merchandise rather than a museum.