Golden Years? Not Even Close

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The Wall Street Journal last week labeled people over age 50 as being in their "Golden Years." Ouch! Since I turn 40 this summer, that's hitting a little too close to home. I don't even classify my parents as being in their golden years yet. So why did the Journal use the golden-year term in a headline about a story marketing to consumers 50 and older? It certainly can't be out of disrespect to the most affluent age segment in the United States, controlling a household net worth of $19 trillion and accounting for 60 percent of all healthcare spending, 41 percent of new car purchases and 80 percent of all luxury travel.

People in this age group don't want to be told that they're getting older or even look like they are -- and they don't have to, thanks to plastic surgery, Botox injections and chemical peels. If you want to cash in on the next economic frontier, cater to the soon-to-be-retiring baby boom generation. Adults 50 and older represent 79 million Americans, according to the Census Bureau. That number is expected to grow to 106 million by 2015, at which point it will account for 45 percent of the adult population.

Even stodgy marketers like Procter & Gamble are realizing the value of this group, the Journal noted. Those in the 50+ population want to be treated like their younger counterparts, but their physical and emotional needs are different. Marketers should keep that in mind. One thing's for certain: They will never appreciate being told they're in their golden years.

Revisiting Google's Gmail

I've been thinking about what I wrote last week regarding the privacy implications of Google's new e-mail service, Gmail. I've also read the dozens of privacy critics' comments comparing its e-mail scanning/ad serving technology to Russian surveillance equipment, as well as some early reviews of the service from beta users. Google is not doing anything wrong here. It is offering a free service and has some requirements for those who use it. If people don't like those terms, they don't have to sign up for the free (let me emphasize the word "free" again) service.

Filtering software is already scanning our e-mail, so it isn't like this is something new. As I wrote last week, I'm going to give Gmail a try. If the ad delivery creeps me out, I'll stop using it. I'm more concerned knowing that no e-mail is ever completely deleted from Google's system. However, if Gmail's pros outweigh its cons, I'll keep using it. If not, I'll stop. It's that simple.

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