Emotional Balance of Baby Boomer Brain Drives Changed Ad Messages

Neuroscientists have been studying how the human brain responds to stimuli in a retail environment for some time now. The results of studies that have tracked shopper emotions through specially designed wearable electronic devices while they are in stores or looking at ads may help marketers sway purchase decisions. But, early research released by Nielsen Neurofocus shows that marketers will need to adjust their messaging according to the age group of the target audience.

The researchers in this specific study focused on Baby Boomers, primarily because this consumer group holds a vast amount of purchasing power. Findings debunked some of the common myths that older brains lose plasticity. Consumers over age 55 showed they are easily and quickly able to change brain structure after a short period of training. But this ability isn’t helpful for marketers hoping to sway older consumers through emotion. Boomers tend to have an ‘emotional resilience’ so the urgent ‘last one’ sales message will not motivate them to make a purchase. These consumers also tend to have a longer attention span when taking in information.

As a result, the research reveals the message types that marketers can use to be more effective with this age group:

  • Emphasize positive marketing and tell the audience what they will gain by making a purchase.
  • Present simple and steady visuals and reduce clutter. This doesn’t mean simplifying the message, only the delivery style. After all, this age group began to first use media in a simpler age and trained their brains to respond to that format while younger consumers are more comfortable with a hyperactive visual environment.

This research should help marketers get at some of the $7 billion that Baby Boomers will spend online this year. The group spends heavily in traditional stores as well and marketers can tap those funds as long as they remember that ‘with age, comes wisdom.’

To learn more about Leading Baby Boomers, check out the Audience Interests & Intent report available at the research store on Ad​-ology​.com.

[Sources: Neff, Jack. Inside the Brain of a Boomer. Adage​.com. 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012; Rethinking Marketing to Baby Boomers. Csnews​.com. 21 Sept. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.