Just last week a colleague of mine was told she has the beginnings of a cataract at the young age of 50. And to my surprise, my eye appointment revealed the same diagnosis for me – just a week later. No, not the same doctor, just two Boomers experiencing one of the very real effects of getting older. What it brought to mind is one of my greatest pet peeves…advertisers that don’t understand the needs of Boomers when it comes to typography. Recognizing the decline in visual acuity that starts afflicting people as early as 40 is essential when it comes to marketing materials for Boomers. Boomers don’t like being made to feel old and when they can’t read something easily they feel old. They also end up not liking you very much as a company because you are now the one that gave them that feeling.
Let me tell you about a personal experience I had and how I rejected a company because they continued to refuse to change their format to something that Boomer eyes could read. I had a subscription to Rachel Ray’s cooking magazine. And, at first, I loved it. Then, they decided to let their art directors have their way with it (and I would guarantee those directors are all under the age of 40 or never read the magazine after it’s published). The result was a magazine filled with tiny type, light-colored type on a light background, lots of reversed out (as well as tiny) type. Every nook and cranny of the magazine was packed with articles I couldn’t read easily. However, I thought there was hope. A woman wrote into the magazine and they published her letter. It said everything I was feeling about the difficulty in reading the magazine. I thought: “Surely since someone has brought this to their attention, they will change.” No, in fact if anything it got worse. So, I didn’t renew my subscription. I am sure they continue to have lots of young readers and I guess that is okay with them. However, they have set themselves up to lose a very large population with the money to spend on cookware and the other ancillary items that they sell as a part of that brand. Does the magazine look great? It sure does. Does it do what it needs to do to meet the needs of a Boomer population with money in their pocket to spend? No.
Older eyes can’t easily read large blocks of reversed out type. They need distinct contrast in colors and larger type. And don’t think that these are just guidelines for the over 65 population. If you have ever been out to lunch with anyone over the age of 40 who has forgotten their reading glasses, you know their arms aren’t long enough to hold that menu where they can read it. Please note that forgetting the reading glasses is probably a subliminal action: “I don’t really need to bring them along because I don’t need them that much.” However, the reality of those out-stretched arms is that they really do need those glasses and you really do need to recognize the importance of doing everything you can to make the Boomer experience a positive one. Your business will depend on it.