Archive for November, 2014

Boomers: The Invisible Generation?

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

One of my favorite clients, noted for a great sense of humor, once said to me that as women enter middle age they become invisible, especially to men. Consequently, she quipped that middle-aged women would make great bank robbers because no one would be able to identify them.

Likewise, it seems that Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are invisible to many marketers!

According to Nielsen, the 100 million people aged 50 and older in the U.S. are “the most valuable generation in the history of marketing” and yet only 10 – 15% of advertising is directed at them.

AARP reports that this segment represents the third largest economy in the world,  behind the gross national products of the United States and China, and soon will control more than 70% of the disposable income in this country.


  • Screen Shot Boomer at Computers[1]Buy two-thirds of all cars, half of all computers, a third of all movie tickets and spend $7 billion a year shopping online. (AARP)
  • Outspend other generations by an estimated $400 billion each year on consumer goods and services. (United States Consumer Expenditure Survey)
  • Represent one-third of the 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. (Jupiter Research)

Moreover, Boomers are more advanced technologically than many marketers assume:

  • 36% of Boomers own a smartphone, and 44% of those owners access the Internet daily through their device. (Pew)
  • 4 million Boomers engage in social networking, 19 million of which are on Facebook (comScore)
  • 82% of Boomers use the Internet to research health and wellness information (Pew Internet and American Life Project).

So why is this valuable segment virtually ignored? Perhaps because for many years the 18 – 49 segment has been the focus of marketers, and for many years the sizable Boomer population was a part of this age segment. Another issue may be that marketers tend to be younger and have misperceptions about their older counterparts.

Researchers, too, often overlook this important segment. How often does the screening age range stop at 65 (or even younger)?   How often are Boomers researched as a distinct target segment? Clearly, many researchers assume that older respondents are not viable participants. However, we have found that respondents 65+ are willing and able research participants. In our experience, they tend to be incredibly reliable respondents; thoughtful and diligent if given pre-work assignments; and eager to have their voices heard. Many are computer savvy, allowing for online research methods to be used. And with a few accommodations for seniors with mobility issues, in-person research is equally viable.

Some examples of research projects that we’ve successfully conducted with Boomers (and Seniors) include:

  • Online video diaries conducted over time for a major CPG firm to gain an in-depth understanding of Boomers—their lifestyles, habits, attitudes, product purchase decisions, usage, and other behaviors.
  • In-home ethnographies and shopalongs for a major bath safety product manufacturer to uncover barriers to purchase, unmet needs, and opportunities for refining and expanding its product line.
  • In-depth interviews with aging women to explore need states and drivers that lead to consideration of cosmetic dermatology treatment options.

So don’t overlook Boomers in your marketing and new product efforts – you can’t afford to ignore these big spenders!


Fire the Moderator!

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by doyle

Why You Don’t “have to be there”. Tech-Driven Self-Ethnography

From the desk of Alice Morganalice and hugh car shopping

The dirty little secret of ethnographic qualitative research is that the moderator’s presence in any kind of in-home, onsite or shopalong situation causes bias. Think about it: if you were shopping with a moderator, would you really put all those Pop-Tarts in the shopping cart? Would you buy cigarettes – or feminine hygiene purchases, for that matter? As much as moderators try to downplay their presence, sometimes just being there gums up the works.

Enter the smartphone. Or any other kind of video-enabled technology, for that matter.   We at Doyle Research are all about asking respondents to, well, respond. Using technology. Away from us. By using their smartphone to tell us how a new product looks on the shelf at the grocery store. By recording a webcam video at home when they embark on a home improvement project using a new caulk. By taking a picture of the car they are considering on the dealership lot.

After these experiences have occurred, then we moderate. We follow-up and ask respondents all about the experience, their reactions, the whole shebang. But only after the initial moment of experience has been captured. In a far more authentic manner than if we had been there.

You don’t have to be there. You just have to capture what happens. And then figure out what it all means.

If you’d like to know more about this topic, Doyle Research will be presenting at The Quirk’s Event on February 23-24, 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.  We hope to see you there!