business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to last week's piece about marketing to Baby Boomers, one MNB user wrote:

Just read your piece on the Gap between Need & Want.  What strikes me the most is when you mentioned companies trying to develop products that would meet the 50+ crowd and their $3 trillion in spending power.  I am in an industry where you get the opportunity to see hundred’s of new product launches and line extensions each year.   All of the presentations are by Brand MGRs, Asst Brand MGRs or Sales Strategists who are in their 20’s or at the very most early 30’s.
Not faulting the age of these people who are very bright .  It’s the culture of many of the CPG companies.  If you are still a brand mgr who hasn’t moved up after 18 months- you are failing inside the walls of the company.

What many of these companies need is someone who thinks like a 50+ year old.   Not very easy to think like a 50+ year old when you are 28.  ( I was never able to do it and believe it is virtually impossible for just about anyone.)   You have to walk a mile in those shoes ……)    Maybe the CPG’s should start or foster a Silver Division 50’s & 60’s inside their company walls that have Brand MGRs and Sales Strategists who are 50 +.  And who knows , maybe even a Golden Division  . Maybe CPG companies should cull back their financial drive to exit everyone over 50.  It might pay a hidden dividend.

MNB user Joe DiVincenzo wrote:

Regarding those of us in the over 50 crowd all being very different:
Case in point with your very next editorial on Wet Wipes which you concluded with “IMHO”.    I’m 52 and had to look up what that meant.  My parents who are both in their mid 80’s wouldn’t even have a clue how to look that up.  To find ways to market to the over 50 crowd as one demographic seems silly at best.

And from another reader:

I think you hit the nail on the head. I understand that I am over 50, but in general I don’t think about it much. I am not thinking about retirement because I am not ready to retire and I don’t know when I will be ready. I don’t have a bucket list, because I plan on being around for a while. I do have goals and objectives and plans. I don’t feel like I am the same as my grandparents were at my age, but that could be wishful thinking on my part. I don’t have the same needs as my dad who is in his 70’s, but he doesn’t have the same needs as my in-laws, who are also in their 70’s. We are definitely not a homogenous group and treating me like my dad will not endear me to your brand.
And from MNB reader Steven Ritchey:

One thing I think food companies may be missing out on.   As we get older, it gets harder to open cans and  other containers.  Plus, we tend to eat less, don’t have kids to feed all the time.  So how about products that come in a size that doesn’t mean copious waste or leftovers and is easy to open.
I’ll soon be 55, so I’m right behind you, and I don’t have any kids to burden with my care when I get old and feeble.  I watched both of my  parents exist, I hesitate to call it living, their last few years in a nursing home, so the idea of long term care is something I’m thinking of as well.  I’ve seen up close and personal how expensive that kind of care is.  It’s smart to  think of it now rather than later.

And, from yet another reader:

Sorry...which one of you is constantly complaining about the senior discounts making you feel old ....and it Kevin or Michael.... amnesia is what makes me feel old 🙂

That would be me.

On a related issue, the new Gap ads starring the adult children of Billy Joel and George Harrison, one MNB user wrote:

Love it! It’s perfect. And by the way, age is only a state of mind. I don’t feel old just because I see children of my contemporaries making a statement – their own statement, in their own way. Shoot, I’m almost 70 and still shop at the Gap for jeans. Hoorah for the Gap, and Alexa Ray Joel.

On the subject of Dave Dillon's retirement from Kroger, one MNB user wrote:

Kroger is an amazing company and David Dillon displayed equally amazing leadership. I spent one year with Kroger (having been part of the Fred Meyer, Inc. management team) and in that short time, I came to really appreciate who Kroger is, what they do, and how they work. David Dillon came into leadership at that time and I have been so impressed with what he accomplished. I wish him well and hope he does get some time to go fishing…

And from another:

I think it is fitting that Dillon and former Safeway CEO Steve Burd retire at relatively similar timeframes.  Both leaders helped to reshape their organizations during a timeframe that saw enormous change in the Grocery business.  From the dramatic Grocery expansion of Target, Wal-Mart, and the Dollar channel, to the numerous battles with Labor Unions….Burd and Dillon, faced the same enemy over the years, and although tumultuous, have successfully navigated their companies through battle to fight another day (as opposed to Supervalu for example).

And yet, I think it would be hard to find two business leaders with more disparate styles.
KC's View: