For many years, I have been carrying a message about how marketing must evolve to include the 5E’s. The new model looks like this:
But maybe I’ve been getting it wrong?
I have been encouraging brands to focus on these 5E’s, applying them throughout the organization, and especially through all of the different functions that must deal directly with the customer. The inspiration and core audience for these 5E’s — delivered and enhanced thanks to the digital channels and tools — was the younger digitally switched-on population, aka the Gen Y and Gen Z. But, I must admit to having had a bit of a revelation recently.
The digital silver economy
It struck me in a conversation recently that the 5E’s are possibly most applicable to the silver generation, aka the baby boomers. What if the digital economy and new marketing mindset were actually better, even best adapted to the silver-haired generation?
The marketing of 5E’s adapted
Taking a look at how the 5E’s might be interpreted by and relevant for the baby boomers, it would go something like this:
- Engagement. “Just because I’m nearing or in retirement, it’s not too late to get engaged in some causes.” Whether it’s a political race, an environmental issue or a charity, the baby boomers are not only unafraid to pronounce a point of view (not necessarily trying to please people as much), they also may have more time to spare and even have more money to spend.
- Exchange. Having spent a lifetime of learning and gaining experience, the baby boomers have volumes of advice and life-lessons to impart. Even so, learning can be lifelong and many baby boomers are keen to keep on attending lectures. Moreover, as the silver generation gets deeper into retirement, there is a potential isolation, if only because of physical limitations. Grandparents are happy (if not eager) to exchange with their offspring and grandchildren living in places far afield.
- Emotion. As much as one might have spent a life of working hard, there is an ever clearer and keener understanding that emotions are the signal of life. The opportunity for the silver generation to connect with their own emotions is vital. Just check out the vitality and vibrancy of a silver-clad person after a hearty laugh or a good sob following a moving play.
- Experience. As one gets on in age, the desire to buy new goods just seems to shrink away. The need for a new pair of trendy shoes, a new watch or swank new car just doesn’t seem as important as before. Having and sharing a new experience takes on much more meaning. The saying that life is short becomes a de facto reality: it puts living new and enriching experiences into greater perspective.
- Essence. Having a spent many years catering to material constraints, doing things “just because” and otherwise running on the treadmill of life, the silver generation is much more aware of the ‘why’ of life. They may be looking at the final stretch and wondering what’s it all been about.
So, to the extent the 5E’s were intended to help articulate a new form of marketing and interaction with customers, linked to and enhanced by the digital tools and platforms, the notion of the 5E’s should speak powerfully to the silver generation. Maybe the 5E’s should form the basis of the digital silver economy?
At the end of the day, the silver-haired executives running big business today are possibly the ones most in need of a mindset shift. On weekends and by night, they get it because they realize increasingly what life is all about and what’s most important. Yet, slipping back into business suits, the notion of the 5E’s, somehow, still seems anathema to so many. If we can just bring our whole selves to work, maybe the gap will narrow quicker?
Your thoughts and reactions are welcome, as always!