Retirees and demography
Gronbach recognizes that his theory simplifies a particularly complex subject. Still, he makes a convincing argument for the relationship between demographic changes and the rise and fall of specific firms and market trends. Software developers need to focus their efforts on immediate marketing challenges, of course. But trends are also important.
The Silent Generation was smaller than the GI Generation that came before it. As the Silent Generation replaced the GI Generation, there was less consumption, and less competition for jobs. If you consider the low birthrate and the small number of immigrants coming to America between 1925 and 1944, Gronbach explains, you'll understand why it becomes difficult to make money marketing to the Silent Generation using the model used to sell goods and services to the previous generation.
Boomers and software sales
By contrast, the Boomer generation is huge. Gronbach describes Baby Boomers as people who don't save money, and who don't spend their money particularly wisely. Boomers spend a lot of money on their kids and grandchildren. They will continue to inherit money that they will continue to spend badly. And they refuse to grow old.
Paco Underhill wrote "Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping." The book describes how consumers purchase items in retail stores. The lessons that Underhill teaches us apply to buying computer and smartphone software on the Internet, too.
Tiny changes to a store's layout, Underhill tells us, can make enormous differences at the cash register. Altering signs in retail stores can increase or decrease product sales. The same principles apply to software developers' online sales presentations, too.
For example, Underhill was hired by a dog food maker to determine how to increase sales. He discovered that mom buys most of the dog food. But dog treats aren't purchased by moms. They're bought by children and grandparents.
Dog food is often stored on high shelves, where most adults can easily reach it. The two groups of supermarket shoppers who can't reach it - seniors and children - can't deal with high shelves. By convincing supermarket managers to move dog treats where kids and grandmothers could reach them, the dog food company immediately increased sales.
How people buy software
The bottom line
Don't assume that retirees are technology-averse people who are sitting by themselves listening to their eight-track tapes and watching Betamax movies. Boomers and the Silent Generation represent a huge market for your software. It's worth the effort to learn to market to them. It's good software marketing.