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As the baby-boom generation it’s the sixties, the Washington Post reports this morning, it is prompting companies “to redesign basic kitchen tools and even high-tech electronics with a new end in mind: selling to older consumers who don't want to concede they are older. The conundrum was at the forefront of this year's National Retail Federation convention, which opened Sunday in New York, where designers and marketers wrestled with the fact that it isn't enough to manufacture, say, a can opener that's easy for someone with arthritis to use. It has to be marketed without mentioning arthritis, or even age.”

This means creating tools and appliances that are clearly easier to hold and manipulate, without being too obvious about it. There’s a lot of money at stake here – $1.7 trillion in annual spending, with people older than 50 representing almost half the consumer spending in the United States. But they are part of a generation that either resists the notion that it is getting older or is in utter denial about it.

Marketing to this generation doesn’t exactly have universal appeal, however, with a lot of companies preferring to cater to the youth market, believing that there is greater potential there.
KC's View:
Being a 51-year-old boomer, we can certainly appreciate the conundrum facing marketers. But the story is absolutely right – just don’t tell us that we’re getting old.

By the way, if you want to watch a great movie that has this as a theme, watch “Robin and Marian,” the 1976 movie written by James Goldman and directed by Richard Lester. It stars Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as Robin Hood and Maid Marian later in life…as they try to reconcile who they were, who they are, and how they feel about themselves. It’s romantic (watch it with a significant other) and has plenty of humor and action…plus a terrific performance by Robert Shaw as an aging Sheriff of Nottingham. (Watching Connery and Shaw face off here has even greater poignancy because you can remember their younger selves battling in “From Russia With Love.”)

In a lot of ways, these are universal and ageless themes. They get a lot of attention now, because there is more media and more ways to stay young or feign youth. But in a lot of ways, it’s still the same old story…