According to developmental psychologists, one of the central tasks of aging is the search for meaning. Boomer women find the answer by looking outside themselves to the greater needs of the world. It’s about leaving a legacy.
Older people have long been America’s most responsible citizens. Driven by their need for vital involvement, they volunteer more hours; give more money to community, church and other causes; and vote at more than twice the rate of people in their mid-30s and younger.
The Search for Significance
Boomer women’s search for the meaning of life is a bit different than their male colleagues’ quest because women have always been a bit more spiritual and more “others-oriented.” Barbara Payne-Stancil notes in The Handbook on Women and Aging, “Women’s search for the meaning of their lives begins long before they become ‘older women’ … it is reflected in their involvement in religious activities and practices. Women are more religious than men-at every age.”
In addition, because women are wired to be more other-oriented and inclusive, their worldview is, “We’re all in this together. Might as well help each other out.” Therefore, their search for a meaning in life, for a way to give back to the world and leave a lasting contribution, has always been on their minds.
For Boomer women, this comes to the forefront. Social responsibility rises to new highs among women in middle age, a pattern that does not emerge among men; fully three-fourths of women over 50 say contributing to their communities is of central importance in their lives.
Among high net worth individuals, the desire to give back is always stronger among women than men, as the graph below shows:
Marketing to Boomer Women and Legacies
So how does this interesting information help brands when marketing to Boomer women? Here’s an example from my own consulting work. When I worked with private asset management firm Neuberger Berman, they created a series of networking events targeted to very high-end women investors called “Beyond Success to Significance.” The topic was one with extraordinary resonance among Boomer women, so the invitations were successful in attracting a high level of attendance in five cities. The events were headlined by panels of three well-known women executives, who discussed ways in which they had been able to leverage their position, rank, visibility and influence into opportunities to make a higher-order difference.
Neuberger Berman took a very restrained role in the events they created. Their highest-ranking woman partner introduces the panelists and led the discussion; they had some discreet signage and materials in the room; and, most importantly, several of the firm’s women advisors mingled in to make new connections with these very successful women.
The post-even evaluation forms were a powerful indicator of the positive effect these events had on the women attendees, and the positive corporate halo is created for Neuberger Berman. An impressive 35% of women checked the box “I would like to receive information about Neuberger Berman” (normal response rates for an inquiry like this are typically in the 10-15% range).
Neuberger Berman also leveraged the legacy principle in one of their ads. It shows a beautiful portrait of a Boomer woman, her daughter and granddaughter. The headline reads: “Money management is what we do.” And continues, “But we also know some dividends have nothing to do with numbers.”
This example shows a comprehensive marketing to Boomer women plan that successfully and tactfully addressed Boomer women’s desire to find meaning in their lives. Other brands that develop similar marketing strategies will be rewarded with a shiny corporate halo and loyal Boomer women customers.