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How to connect with Baby Boomers: Maslovian orientation

Jim Gilmartin:
Contemporary theories of marketing are increasingly defined in the context of collaborative relationships between a marketer and customers that operate on behalf of meeting needs of the latter. To begin, you need to understand the challenges involved in synchronizing your company values, marketing, operating policies and practices and the impact of company culture on the life stage values of Baby Boomers.

Today, enlightened marketers consider marketing “a conversation.” However, too often marketers frame the contents of a monologue rather than the outlines of a conversation. That is how it was in marketing — when the marketer had virtually full control over the message and the medium. To benefit optimally from a company brand, a company needs to assume the role of conversant instead of message master.

To have a strong presence with Baby Boomers, a brand must stand for something that is meaningful to them aside from its functional attributes. It must symbolize values and beliefs that resonate with the Boomer’s own values and beliefs. In telling its story, a company needs to project their values, but a thin line exists between brand messages that reflect an organization’s social conscience and messages that are merely expressions of braggadocio.

Maslovian resonance (aspiring to self-actualization) considers life as being processed à la B-cognition (for being-cognition) by self-actualizing people. “However, we spend most of our lives processing the world through D-cognition (for deficiency-cognition,)” said psychologist Abraham Maslow.

Typically, traditional marketing takes its cues from the D-cognition domain. For that reason marketers often see themselves as “curing” Baby Boomers’ deficiencies. This presents unfamiliar challenges. How do you approach Baby Boomers who have no sense of deficiency (in a Maslovian sense) in their lives? The answer is creating a company culture that reflect the company and its products/services as gateways for being (meaningful) experiences that support achieving Baby Boomer life aspirations.

This Maslovian orientation can give a company a formidable competitive distinction that is likely immune to erosion by competitors. However, reaching that state depends on a profound understanding of the differences between marketing based on Baby Boomers’ deficiencies and marketing based on the Boomer’s beingness.



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