Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and will be provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.
Now hear this: Verizon is partnering with a select group of midlife bloggers across middle America as part of a new program called “Verizon Boomer Voices,” and they chose yours truly to lend her voice to the chorus. This an important step in the right direction—for boomers and for Verizon.
According to “The Boomer Consumer: Preparing for the Age Wave,” our cohort controls 77% of all U.S. financial assets and 50% of discretionary spending. And a 2012 article in the Huffington Post reported on a study by the media ratings firm Nielsen and BoomAgers, a creative company that assists companies in marketing to boomers. The study’s findings reveal that boomers, which will make up half the U.S. population by 2017, are “the most valuable generation.”
Pardon me while I indulge in a brief editorial digression:
And yet, despite our obvious value, boomers have been largely invisible to advertisers and television programming executives. A segment on HuffPost Live last year, “Over 50, Under Counted,” focused on this oversight. One of my very smart boomer blogger friends, Darryle Pollack (in a previous life Darryle was a television reporter), contributed wisely to the conversation. And it delighted me to see that a comment I sent in during the segment’s live stream received attention by the moderators, even if the impossibly young woman did mispronounce my name as Marc. I. Rich.
With Verizon’s program, it appears as though at least one mega-brand recognizes that it’s good business to pay attention to our colossal clout.
Here’s how they’re doing it: Verizon will put some of its best technology into the hands of boomer bloggers who are keenly interested in learning more about tech and becoming something of an expert in the realm. Those among us who have felt sidelined by advertisers and the mainstream media should take heart by Verizon’s initiative. Verizon gets it. They care what we have to say. (And no NSA jokes, please.)
In an e-mail, Verizon Social Media Strategist Iskra Dobreva explained the evolution of the two-year-old Verizon Voices program, which, she notes, was established “to pull together like-minded bloggers to check out some of the latest and greatest Verizon devices, products, and accessories, and then network and share their experiences with one another, and with their readers and social following.”
Since its inception, the Verizon program has, according to Dobreva, “pulled together bloggers that focus on a variety of topics and interests, including sports, fashion, health and fitness, food, family life, etc. Boomer Voices is the latest group Verizon has launched.”
While the Verizon Voices program exists in a variety of markets in the United States, Dobreva notes that the program in which I’m participating is “a Midwest-based program and … the first time a group of Boomer bloggers was formed.”
Verizon is flying me to Chicago this weekend for some training on the device I’ll be testing. In return, I’ll post about the device once each month through December, and I’ll augment those posts with tweets and Facebook updates. One could nickname this program “posting and hosting,” since I’ll also host two house parties where I’ll invite friends, family, and neighbors to eat good food and check out the Verizon goods. I’ll also have to attend monthly webinars, so you can see that this endeavor will keep me busy.
It goes almost without saying that I’m thrilled they chose me for this program, and not just because of the perks. (One of my favorite lines from All About Eve is when Bette Davis says, “I’m … not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.”) What Verizon is paying for is my honest opinion, and that’s what they will get. If you’ve read the product review I wrote for Viewpoints on a kitchen appliance, you know that I play it as it lays.
I think it’s great that Verizon cares what boomers have to say about the products we buy in the marketplace, and that we use as an integral extension of our daily lives. I should note that I’ve been a loyal Apple consumer ever since my first desktop back in the 1980s, so if I’m to be playing around with non-Apple devices, doing so will mark a first in my own consumer history (except for the Kindle I received from my husband as a Christmas gift). I don’t count the Kindle Paperwhite that I reviewed for Viewpoints, since I donated that to the Richmond Public Library.
Suffice to say that if I encounter any cumbersome learning curves, I’ll try to make reading about them enjoyable for you.
So let’s all raise a glass (and a salted peanut) to Verizon for thinking that the opinions of boomers have value. And for being willing to listen.
Updated on June 22, 2013.