i’m not buying it

the official 60's Baby Boomer Site

I recently wrote about how gracefully my wife is aging, while I will be dragged kicking and screaming into my seventh decade.

But, according to the Wall Street Journal, retailers want to ease my pain. (See the video.) Boomers, “famously rebellious and demanding,” don’t want to be reminded that they are getting old. And so companies are making typefaces larger and lowering shelves, while marketing is filled with flattery and euphemism.

My favorite? They are avoiding yellow and blues in packaging, since older eyes don’t see them as sharply defined as other colors.

Consider these examples:

    • Financial advisers offer cups with handles instead of Styrofoam and use lamps instead of harsher overhead lights.
    • Kohlers calls their grab bars “Belay,” a rock climbing term. Apparently climbing out of the tub can be an adventure.
    • Depends now “look and fit like underwear,” with younger models in their TV commercials and packaging that looks just like regular briefs. They spent two years developing this line, since they expect 45 million boomers to need incontinence products by 2020.
    • CVS has been retrofitting stores with carpeting to reduce slippage, and lowering their top shelves from 72 to 60 inches. (What does CVS mean anyway? Corporations Vs. Seniors?)
    • Walgreens is putting magnifying glasses in aisles with cleaners and other products that have fine print.
    • Sherwin Williams, going after a market very likely to sell their homes and downsize, has introduced better lighting, more seating and free coffee, while reducing the fine print on their product displays.
    • Kleenex has cooler, more contemporary designs for their boxes—fewer floral prints and more hip colors and patterns—even photographs. It’s not your grandma’s Kleenex box.
    • Arm and Hammer has increased the print size on their cat-litter by 20%. Who knew cats were having trouble reading?

All this may work, too. After all, they did sell us hulu hoops and bell bottoms. Why not a “Belay” bar to get out of the shower?

Not for me, though. I’m on to them.

I’m going to want the blue box on the top shelf, thank you very much.

The one with the Depends.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

109 Responses to “i’m not buying it”

  1. Literally LOL 🙂 Great post. And I didn’t even need a magnifying glass to read it.

    Yet.

    • My wife figured it out before I did. On our anniversary I expectantly opened a small package from her hoping to find the latest cool gadget, or perhaps some outrageously tiny lingerie that she would model for me later and…it was a pair of reading glasses. While initially a little put out by this, I have to admit that they have proven to be very useful….

  2. We need to get in on the ground floor of making groovy totes for the larger iPhones you technophiles will require… You paint a bleak future of not being able to find such a phone and eventually not being able to read it when you do find it– making the need for it to be bigger and hence, some kind of carryall.

    On the bright side it you’ll have a good excuse to ignore your voicemails…

  3. And, in order to make our childhood memories seem hip and happening, ” hoola-hoops are now hulu hoops, according to auto-correct.

  4. Loved the pie chart with “Looking for things I had a minute ago” representing the largest slice of the day. That slice also includes “Why did I just come in here?” 😀

    • OMG this is just Awesome, I was cracking up lol, thank you, and yes Linda it should also include, “Why did I just come in here?”

      Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  5. Just as long as you don’t whine about not having a motorized cart when you come in my store, you’re okay.

  6. This makes me smile! My mom has had to read her news paper with a magnifying glass (her glasses were not enough) for about 10 years now. I can only hope to age as well as she has (in her 70’s) and apparently you. It all has to be done with honesty and a very healthy dose of humor. Well done!

  7. Love the post and I’m with you. If they really wanted to do something to make me younger they should quit wasting money and instead lower their prices.

  8. Haha! I’m glad you can see through their sales tactics. Nobody’s going to trick you into splurging on chic tissue paper! Great post & congrats on FP!

  9. Funny! Don’t you feel special that big companies are working so hard to adapt to your coming needs?

  10. Just a pure delight to read…..I am so glad you were freshly pressed 🙂

  11. Eh? Speak up, sonny!

  12. Older folks complain about being “invisible” and “forgotten”, so this is great. They will regain a sense of power, at least in the marketing world.

  13. Awesome. Marketers be screwed: I don’t buy my children the cereal from the bottom shelves either. Try your tricks on more susceptible minions! 😉

  14. So funny! Great post…love your site.

  15. I can’t get that pie chart out of my head now- really funny! Congrats on being FP- I’m now following your blog on networkedblogs. Ciao, K

  16. 42… And laughing my ass off!

  17. Finding things I lost in random drawers. Keys, glasses, phone in places I never remember putting there. I like to think I’m too preoccupied and not signs of aging….haha. Great post.

  18. Haha – and don’t you just hate it when your doctor looks about 12 !

  19. Ah! And my tax money is going to pay for your broken hip when you fall trying to reach what you thought was a blue box on the top shell!

  20. haha!
    so cute.
    well, i think it’s quite sweet that they’re catering to the elderly; all society seems to cater to now are retarded, sexually-charged teenagers.

  21. Holy sh*#! I laughed, I cried. I’m only in my 40’s but aging is not fun. I always find myself in a room looking for WHAT? I don’t even remember…And I swear the print is getting smaller on EVERYTHING, it’s not MY eyes! So if the retailers start typing larger to make us FEEL better, I’m in! Sorry, I will to go there, fool me if you want…I’ve had chemo so I try using that as my excuse, it’s not aging, ha, ha!

  22. Great post–Funny! You should write a response letter to the WSJ!

  23. That just shows that Facebook etc is really NOT aimed at older folk, as they keep REDUCING their font size until even young ‘uns like me can’t see it properly without zooming in …

  24. Hey look at it this way: with the economy in the state that it is, these companies are opening up millions of jobs for recent grads. Granted, when I chose to go into Physiology, I wasn’t HOPING for a job analyzing the changes in color-vision as people age….but I’ll take what I can get?

    Just please don’t make me stand outside a CVS wearing bell bottoms and holding picket signs advertising a sale. It might make seniors feel more welcome, but it freezes my hands and, if that happens, who will buy the large-keyed (yet miraculously lightweight) laptops they create in decades to come?

    • I’d rather that young people didn’t primarily have work that seems like indentured servitude to Baby-Boomers. Let’s face it, these college graduates are already entering a world that is much bleaker than they were promised, why would anyone want to add insult to injury?

  25. ..And what’s the name of that thing-a-ma-jigger? Yesterday I couldn’t think of the word ‘umbrella’ to save my life.
    So true about catching these marketing ‘geniuses.’ Like the Boomer tee-shirt says, “Is the Hokey Pokey really what it’s all about?”
    Great post–congrats in FP!

  26. Im gonna hit the big 26..and I can already see the signs of Mid life crisis!

  27. This post just made my day. I love your writing- witty and graceful. I would be quick to forward this post to my parents, but I am not sure they have their “cheaters” with them. (I think that’s baby boomer code for reading glasses, but I’m not certain.) Best wishes!

  28. Interesting article–I hadn’t thought about this before.

    –Jim
    http://jimgilmore2010.wordpress.com/

  29. alessonineconomics Reply February 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I think that this is a smart marketing technique – with the amount of money people my age (young people) pay into social programs to fund exclusively-senior public goods, it’s obvious that we’re not going to be the ones with the purchasing power.

    inb4 “social security taxes went down this year, so you’re paying less” whining. want to guarantee that people my age will never see any sort of relief funding 40-50 years from now? let’s bankrupt a nearly bankrupt system even faster.

  30. Judging by the content of your post, it’s a miracle you even got to your PC to write it! Your commitment to your readers is faultless, even with all the problems you supposedly have. On the upside, there will be people who will benefit from all the new ideas. However, I’m sure there will be more people, like yourself, who, somehow, manage to survive every day very well thank you very much without all the extra help these lovely money-grabbing companies want to give you. Of course, they don’t gain a thing from it all. Patronizing behaviour at its best!! Love it!!

  31. Great post. I love all of this. We want more, more, more. Car keys that find themselves, a Daytimer that talks to me and then bonks me over the head to remind me of appointments, and a minimum age requirement for models (like 60).

  32. Oh, the glories of getting older and marketing gurus taking advantage of this. Congrats on getting pressed.

  33. As a Boomer, I got a chuckle out of this post, especially as my Beloved is a former climber — can’t wait to tell him about the belaying bar. And I have a 15-year old cat (and, for my sins, an 8 1/2-month old one), who I’m sure would appreciate the larger print; perhaps I ought to change brands …

  34. Oh to be an underwear model…

  35. love this, great examples of how the ‘system’ is accounting for the human condition, a pity as much is not done for our benefit instead of profit. i’ll be paying attention to what i purchase now that i never needed to when i was younger

  36. Great post! I’m glad you’re aging so well… ; ) Congratulations on FP!

  37. melancholiastudioinc Reply February 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Very funny. Quit wasting your time with social media engineered by the young’uns to keep us so busy we don’t know the cheapest depends are on the top shelf and write that humor book you’ve been keeping on the back burner.

    As for products, I was wondering where my floral patterned Kleenex had got to, darn, I guess it’s not coming back. They used to put the cheap stuff on the bottom shelf because people were too busy to look that far down. They seem to have figured out the smart people (read ancient) have learned to look high AND low.

  38. Very funny

  39. Really enjoy reading your stuff and will try to read more. I don’t know where I came up with it (like most other ideas, it’s probably not actually an original of mine), but I think that Depends, if they haven’t done it already, should make and market really snazzy adult diapers; the tagline for the ads would be “Fashion Depends….on You!” I am in my mid-50s, and, for most of the last decade, I think, have been able to read almost perfectly without glasses or contacts, but have to put reading glasses on if I am wearing contacts (nearsighted), in order to work or see up close. So I am forever having to remember which glasses I need (“real” or reading), I buy multiple pairs of “+2.00” reading glasses at the dollar stores (they don’t break or fall apart or get misplaced any faster than full-priced ones), and ALWAYS carry a flashlight with me, to help out the reading glasses. By the way, in regard to your “blizzard post”, we’ve had several bad snowstorms, full-fledged blizzards, and ground-blizzards here in South Dakota this winter, and today at around noon we were up to a whopping 9 degrees below zero (yes, Fahrenheit)! Can’t say I’ve ever stocked up on ammo and jerky before a storm, though. Thanks for the good read.

  40. Funny post! Congrats on getting FP’d.
    Caitlin

  41. Loved this. Aging rocks! (consider the alternative) 😉

  42. I’m glad you’ve caught on to them and their games! (Corporation vs. Seniors) Hah! Don’t give in…

  43. I hope that I age as wonderfully as my grandparents and with their sense of humor, thanks for this great post!

  44. This is awesome…though I’m sure my father will greatly appreciate the larger print on just about anything they can print larger letters on.

  45. My mother is 82 and says: “Just wait”. This from a woman who owns and regularly drives a Lexus sports coupe. I’m going into my next decades with her as my model, but might take a little help from whoever wants to hand it out.

  46. I’m all for aging, gracefully or kicking & screaming. Either way, it means we’re still alive. I love how complimentary you are to your wife. Very sweet.

  47. Love this post!
    Love it love it!
    When My hubby (a bit older then me and I’ma knockin’ at 50’s door) started getting the AARP magazine I was a little creeped out. But truthfully? I like getting older. You don’t nearly have to try so hard anymore. It’s like you’ve arrived.
    Kudos to you.
    Looking forward to your next installment.

  48. I find nothing makes me look older than complaining about things others don’t care about. And what is more fun than complaining? And try blogging without it even if you are twenty-nine. How is your hearing? LOL! You have it all. Nice post.

  49. Thanks for this amusing and enlightening post. Marketers are cunning creatures, are they not? The graph of your day shockingly reminds me of mine (and I’m a few decades behind you.) You started my day off right 🙂

  50. I only read the headline and “drawing” , and i instantly liked the post,
    even if i didnt actually read everything. Then i saw the tags on the bottom of the screen “filed under humor” 🙂

  51. Loved the post; congrats on FP. At age 58 I totally related to the pie chart, because I spend 60% of my waking hours searching. In our neighborhood we have a police officer who patrols regularly; I’m sure he can’t be more than eight, yet his moustache causes me some confusion!

  52. Came across your blog, and as a younger reader found it a very good read, shall have to have a read through a few others you have posted.

    Also loving the picture.

  53. I still love guys and gals who dress the same way they did when they were thirty-somethings. As opposed to the ‘Boomers who try to hold on to yesteryear by dressing like present-day twenty-somethings.

  54. This is great!

  55. The fact that you maintain a blog shows you’re well on your way to rebelling against what those mean marketers think about you! I admire that–my grandma is still learning what google is.

    Love the blog!

  56. Good job, my friend! You brought laughter to our lives with your blog! I just spent 3 hours today searching for the cord to connect my IPod to my computer. What can I say? –From your old friend (literally!)

  57. as a marketer by trade… loved it!!!!

  58. Very interesting. It’s amazing what marketing research can do to find out how people can sell to the masses.

  59. great blog…you had me laughing as I saw so much of myself in what you wrote…very funny…and congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  60. Well, shoot. I thought I was all cool for buying the new tissues I thought they’d designed for the youngsters…. and you say it’s all done for us old folks. Crap. And yesterday I got an AARP card in the mail…. now that made me mad! Great post. Oh, I have to tell you – last night I was getting some cheese to grate, and I found my 79yr old mom’s cell phone in the cheese drawer! She’d been looking for it all afternoon!

  61. At least they’re cutting back on fine print or making it a bit larger. That’s something people of all ages can celebrate.

  62. Loving this post! I teach fitness classes for “older adults.” I am barely 30 and was nervous when I realized most of the participants had fourty years on me. Initially, I was given all sorts of advice like: “seniors love relays” and “never refer to their backside while squatting.” Truth is, most of them out wit and out spunk me daily. You certainly prove that we ought to spend less time patronizing the baby boomers, and more time enjoying the gifts they have to offer.

  63. This was great!
    The end was particularly funny 😀

    congrats on FP! 🙂

  64. Great post. As a son of Boomers, I’m watching in anticipation of this era generating some great humour. Well Done.

  65. very funny! 🙂 and very interesting read.

  66. Brilliant writing! Still attempting to stifle my laughter. I’m a bit worried only being 24 and joining you in the “looking for things I just had a minute ago” portion of the day.

  67. hahaha, this brightened my morning. me and my mother often joke about her impending old age and this made me laugh at work, covered as sneezing 🙂

  68. Good points.
    I totally agree.
    Have a great day!
    gdw

  69. Lol..guess people dont wanna age. I hate the thought of it myself.

  70. As I was shoveling a foot of snow the other day, I was wondering when I could start using my advancing age as an excuse to foist that task onto someone else. Then I realized, I’d probably have to either hibernate or wade through the snow until it melted if I pleaded my age so I kept working, remembering that I drive a 2-seated roadster so I can grin a lot as I go down the road. I didn’t buy it to feel younger. I bought it because I figure it could be my last car and I’ve always wanted one. I think it is funny that marketers cater to us — I’d love to find one of those cute Kleenx boxes to buy.

  71. Oh this is great. I’m convinced that the writing on labels is getting smaller and smaller. About time the went the other direction. The place where their just not getting it yet is the telecom industry. I got my boss a new phone recently. The text on the screen was so small that neither one of us could read it with out glasses on. It went back in the box. Fail.! Remodeling our bathrooms this month and love the belay bar. I ordered 2 for my tub 🙂

  72. LMBO. Thanks for the laugh. Yeah, not sure some grow old gracefully but there is definitely a market. My sight is deminishing, my energy is pooping out and my hair is thinning, but such is life. I’m still young enough to get ’em and old enough to please ’em. Rock on my fellow blogger 🙂

    http:\\angnic.wordpress.com

  73. Love this post, happened upon your blog and even though this is probably a once off, I really enjoy hearing about ways marketing is changing over the years and what retailers are doing to change their perspective!

  74. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed; so glad to have discovered your blog! 🙂

  75. I hope the entire nation caters to my generation someday too.

  76. So I read the CVS anti slippage bit and and say aloud”C-V-S…con-venience-store? ‘go down to next line’ ha ha” seems as though I’m not the only curious one…

    love your post.

    http://www.ReallyPhatChow.com

  77. My goodness, I’ve never seen so many responses to a post!! But I sure could relate–being home recovering from hip replacement surgery. I love, love, love my “belay bar” in the bathroom. My reachers are in every room since I have restrictions forever from bending past 90 degrees. I won’t be 60 for 3 years but because of discovering the congenital hip defect–my world is slower. I’m enjoying simple pleasures I previously raced through and very definitely I’m thankful for human and technological help!!!!

  78. My mom is a baby boomer and she seems like she is still 40 years old to me. Nothing stops her and she just keeps going strong, and she has more energy than I do lots of times! I can believe that they are changing up products for baby boomers, they definitely are going strong and nothings coming to stop them either!

  79. You’re a guy so you might not know this one…but they’re also resizing womens’ clothes. You know, so we won’t clog up the dressing rooms crying about wearing a size 10 and contemplating how we’re going to get back into that size 4 we wore 15 years ago. They just tweaked the numbers. Now as we get older, our bellies may get bigger, but that very arbitrary number on the back of the jeans will stay the same. I’m not making a judgement call on this one, it may be fine since we feel better, or maybe it just puts us in denial. Either way, I’m pretty sure a psychology degree is essential to marketing and selling everything from nails to nail polish.

  80. I’ve seriously considered putting a small magnifying glass in my purse. The reading glasses alone just aren’t cutting it anymore. I figure I could just pretend I’m Angela Landsbury in that show she use to be in…oh, what was the name of it…you know, the one where she solved murders… Darn! Why can’t I remember the name of that show?! 🙂

  81. hahaha. I will TOTALLy go for the magnifying glasses in the aisle of Walgreens!

    Congrats on making Fresh Pressed!

  82. Thoroughly enjoyed your blog and the pie chart was what caught my eye. Searching for things I just had and why did I come into this room? occupy more of my time than I’d like to admit. I’d probably think it was funnier if things just didn’t seem so urgent at the time. I mean, there MUST have been a reason …….. was important enough to go seeking, right?

  83. um, that pie chart made my stomach hurt from laughing. congrats on FP!

  84. Interesting blog and catches retailers offguard I am sure. However, one thing forgotten to mention in this blog is the mashrooming of anti aging products, either in form of pills, machines and all sorts of creams targeted at the Boomers.

    Honestly I am in my mid 30s, I have never seen more emphasis on anti aging elements like am seeing now, its incredible, everywhere I look, are creams, pills, to alleviate old age wrinkles; this makes me realise that I am getting old as well. The market ranges from 30s to 50s going upwards. My worry is what happens there after if you start mitigating wrinkles in your thirties…. disasterous results would be the outcome.

    The question I may pose though, is since when did humanity start snubbing at old age, we know it as wisdom with all the experiences in life and whats not there makes old age something to be proud OF!

    The Baby boomers cohort has different view from the research point of view.

  85. You sound just like my dad, I am sure you two would have heaps of common grounds and ideas for a good natter over a cup of your chosen poison (like a nice bottle of red wine)…

    will have to bookmark 🙂

    thepixtakers

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