Genius car marketers target exactly who isn’t buying cars, ignore Boomers who are

Conventional marketing wisdom — first formulated back in the Don Draper days — says, “Get ’em while they’re young.” Marketers  target young families because, in theory, their brand preferences are still in play. Get them to try your brand when they’re just coming on to the consumer marketplace, and you might have them for life. As  for older customers, why bother? Their brand habits are set in stone, they don’t spend much and they’re going to be dead soon, anyway.

Longevity and the “reinvention” of aging have made nonsense of these theories, of course. But it’s astounding how they still persist. Nowhere is that more true that in the auto sector, where carmakers, following the traditional script, target the Millennials….while the bulk of sales are racked up by the Boomers and those even older.

You can get all the details in this article. Here are some of the highlights:

  • In the USA, drivers over age 75 register six times as many new cars as those aged 18-14
  • The number of cars registered by US households headed by someone 65+ has jumped by 65% since 2010
  • Consumers aged 50 to 63 account for 63% of US car sales
  • While the average age of the US population is 38, the average age of a new car buyer is 52
  • In Canada, consumers over the age of 60 buy more cars than any other age group

And yet, according to AARP, carmakers devote less than 10% of their ad budgets to targeting seniors. They continue to chase the cash-strapped Millennials, ignoring the fact that between 1989 and 2013, overall spending by those aged 75+ increased by 15%, while spending by the 65-74 age group jumped by 18%. Every age group below 55 saw a decrease in discretionary spending.

As Steven Szakaly, chief economist of the US National Automobile Dealers Association puts it, “It takes four Millennials to replace one Boomer in terms of economic impact.”

In fairness, some carmakers — most notably, luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW – emphatically do get it, and are seeing strong increases in sales and market share.

Also, many people who direct the carmakers’ ad campaigns will argue that they knowingly frame the messaging as if it were aimed at a younger consumer precisely to attract an older consumer, who wants to “think young.” This might explain some of the creative strategy, but it doesn’t explain why the allocation of media dollars is still heavily tilted to Millennials who absolutely cannot and do not buy the products.

You’d think marketers would be the first to “get” and appreciate new trends that bust old ways of thinking. But for some reason, it continues to take a lot more time than I’d ever have imagined.


New research: a nap a day could help you live longer and maybe even save your life

Winston Churchill always tried to take an afternoon nap. He lived to 90. New research suggests a daily nap could not only promote longevity, but possibly even save your life. The reasons: it reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attach. Here’s the full story.

Robert De Niro or Pajama Boy? Why Millennial women want to date older men.

Here’s a shocker: it seems a lot of Millennial women don’t like dating Millennial men.

When I first came across this article, I thought the reason might be tied in, somehow, with the whole “feminization of men” thing. You know what I mean: the triumph of indifference and irony as the dominant style points, the self-mockery, the vague (and sometimes not so vague) air of helplessness. And my own pet peeve: the apparent requirement that male pop artists sing in falsetto, a trend that can’t go away soon enough. How desirable can all this squishiness possibly be?

That’s part of it, as you’ll see. But there’s an area where a lot of Millennial guys are apparently not squishy: making sure, as aggressively as possible, that the women understand there is no future relationship on offer.

From the article:

Men are impolite to the point of viciousness to ensure that the women they just hooked up with understand they don’t want a relationship. Women “self-objectify” in profile pictures to get men interested, renouncing the “wrong idea” that they might want something more than a one-night stand. No matter which way you spin it, landing yourself in a committed relationship seems to be, by millennial standards, “the wrong idea.”

In response, says the author:

I’ve noticed a new strategy among my set of female friends—lovely, intelligent, independent women—to combat the grime of the online dating world: date up.

I don’t mean status, I mean age. More and more women I know are dating men twice, yes twice, their age. In her new film, The Intern, Anne Hathaway stands with Robert DeNiro and a bunch of young male colleagues in a bar and draws a harsh comparison: “How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to . . .?” She gestures despairingly at the four men in front of her, archetypes of my generation in their hoodies, craft beer in one hand, iPhone in the other, with their untrimmed beards and general lack of ambition. I see what Hathaway means: Why put up with Tinder when there’s a whole generation of men out there who wouldn’t dream of using it?

Not only that, but the older men are actually…um…better dates. And maybe more.

My friend Gabrielle met her boyfriend at a restaurant opening. They are twenty years apart, and they’ve been together for two. He “treats me like I’m a person,” she told me. “I watch so many of my other friends agonize over text messages from guys who . . . just clearly don’t care.” The stereotypes, she says, are true: Older men are attentive, they aren’t threatened by your career success, they didn’t grow up watching porn on their laptops, and they certainly don’t expect sex from you before you’ve even had a chance to meet. It’s not an “old-fashioned” dating scheme, it’s just a more humane one. “I wasn’t trying to go back in time,” Gabrielle added at the end of our conversation. “Nobody wants to go back to the 1950s, we just want to be treated with respect.”

The money quote, I think, is: “How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to…?”


Too many old people: Japan has aged out of its economic miracle

We’re always excited about longevity and the “reinvention” of aging here at this blog, but that doesn’t mean we’re blind to the problems. If the population is too concentrated among the older groups, it can be a recipe for disaster, as Japan is apparently proving.

Japan Has Aged Out of its Economic Miracle – IEEE Spectrum

Never mind 65-plus, by 2050 Japan’s over-80 population will outnumber its children.  I’m not sure they’ll all be helpless and dependent. The youngest would only be 45 today, and they’re likely to benefit from at least some of the trends in health and longevity and the social/cultural/attitudinal redefinition of “old age.” Even so, the imbalance will be extreme — and certainly enough to inhibit economic growth, which is the thrust of this article. (Mind you, by 2050 today’s Millennials will themselves be pushing 60, and it will be interesting to see what reinvention they’ve undertaken.)

Pro football player won’t let his kids received ‘participation’ trophies. He might be on to something…

Pro footballer James Harrison has had his 8-year-old and 6-year-old sons return trophies they received for participating in a sports activity. He wrote on Instagram:

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”

As reported here in the Washington Post, his action received a lot of support on the Internet. People may be  finally getting fed up with the excesses of the feel-good, everyone’s-a-winner culture.

I’m not so sure you can’t give a “participation” trophy to a very young child and still foster a “want to do better” attitude. I don’t where the cutoff is: perhaps 4- and 5-year-old get a crest or something, and the win-or-lose trophies kick in by the age of Harrison’s kids. I do agree with his bottom line about entitlement. Let’s not forget that at one end of the continuum is the “participation” trophy and at the other end is the “Occupy” movement and the “safe” room on campus: a world in which self-regard is all, in which feeling virtuous trumps actually achieving anything. Remember the “Occupy” movement? All those demonstrations in the service of….well, what, exactly? As I wrote in Beyond Age Rage:

“There is no connection between desired goals, policies that would achieve those goals, and actions that could bring those policies into force in the real world. It is all make-believe.”

Maybe it started when they received “participation” trophies as little kids…




James Harrison thinks kids’ participation trophies are worthless, sets off debate – The Washington Post.

Did you hear the one about the stand-up comedian who performed on a college campus…

Never mind. It’s not very funny.

Check out this terrific article from The Atlantic, dealing with the problems of booking acceptable comedians for college campuses.

Stand-Up Comics Have to Censor Their Jokes on College Campuses – The Atlantic.

Believe it or not, there’s an actual organization — the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) — whose annual convention includes a showcase for comedians to strut their stuff, and then get booked (or not) by representatives of the various universities. Caitlin Flanagan attended the event, interviewed some of the comedians and officials, and her article makes for fascinating — and disturbing — reading.

I already knew that certain comic mega-stars, like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, had spoken out about why they were no longer interested in appearing on college campuses: the kids were too humorless, demanding only the safest and least offensive material. But I had never heard of NACA and its mass audition process, and so this article came as a big reveal for me — as I think it will for you.

Here’s just one excerpt:

A young gay man with a Broadway background named Kevin Yee sang novelty songs about his life, producing a delirium of affection from the audience. “We love you, Kevin!” a group of kids yelled between numbers. He invited students to the front of the auditorium for a “gay dance party,” and they charged down to take part. His last song, about the close relationship that can develop between a gay man and his “sassy black friend,” was a killer closer; the kids roared in delight, and several African American young women in the crowd seemed to be self-identifying as sassy black friends. I assumed Yee would soon be barnstorming the country. But afterward, two white students from an Iowa college shook their heads: no. He was “perpetuating stereotypes,” one of them said, firmly. “We’re a very forward-thinking school,” she told me. “That thing about the ‘sassy black friend’? That wouldn’t work for us.” Many others, apparently, felt the same way: Yee ended up with 18 bookings—a respectable showing, but hardly a reflection of the excitement in the room when he performed.

Is it possible that the  entire generation of college students can be so stiff and fearful? Maybe,  but there’s an even more chilling explanation:

The students’ determination to avoid booking any acts that might conceivably hurt the feelings of a classmate was in its way quite admirable. They seemed wholly animated by kindness and by an open-mindedness to the many varieties of the human experience. But the flip side of this sensitivity is the savagery with which reputations and even academic careers can be destroyed by a single comment—perhaps thoughtless, perhaps misinterpreted, perhaps (God help you) intended as a joke—that violates the values of the herd.

When you talk with college students outside of formal settings, many reveal nuanced opinions on the issues that NACA was so anxious to police. But almost all of them have internalized the code that you don’t laugh at politically incorrect statements; you complain about them. In part, this is because they are the inheritors of three decades of identity politics, which have come to be a central driver of attitudes on college campuses. But there’s more to it than that. These kids aren’t dummies; they look around their colleges and see that there are huge incentives to join the ideological bandwagon and harsh penalties for questioning the platform’s core ideas.

Why does  this matter? Because eventually they will graduate and move into the real world…

How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus – The Atlantic

I’ve commented before – and cited articles – about the crazy growth of “trigger warnings” on campuses: the sanitizing of all material to eliminate any content that can be even mildly upsetting. Most of the discussion has been framed around the issue of “political correctness,” and as such, necessarily focuses on the content itself, and whether or not the censorship reflects a left-wing (yes) or right-wing (are you kidding) bias on the part of university administrators.

But now comes an article that talks about the dangers in the process itself, independent of whether or not content is being censored for ideological reasons.

How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus – The Atlantic.

The article has generated a huge amount of discussion and comment – mostly positive – and I urge you to read it. The authors point out that the protection of students from disturbing material is actually psychologically damaging. Learning how to confront and cope with diverse or even hostile ideas — even those that play into past stressful experiences in the lives of the students (e.g., being a victim of racism or sexual harassment) — is an important skill that contributes to better mental health. Hiding from those ideas does the opposite.

This seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yet here we are.

Of course it’s fair to pay attention to how the ideas are packaged and presented. And it’s reasonable to be sensitive to individual situations: a student who has directly experienced violence or oppression may indeed require some special allowances to be made if certain texts vividly force the replaying of highly disturbing events. But such cases are a tiny minority,  and they seem to have been handled in the past without much fuss. What marks the “trigger warning” movement today is the laughably trivial nature of the “disturbing” material from  which students claim to need protection. And the equally laughable remedies, including “safe rooms” where students can take refuge, literally, from troublesome content. If you wanted to damage the entire American economy by producing a generation of new workers who are completely unfit to compete in the modern world, you couldn’t do much better than this.