This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about targeting baby boomer consumers.

Andrew MacDonald is an owner of Absolute Wilderness, a Nelson-based company that makes freeze-dried meals.

Can you talk me through the proportion of your business that comes from baby boomer clients and why this is an important market for you?

We find that baby boomers as a market segment make up a large proportion of our customers - mainly trampers and people who eat the meals at home. As a market they're important to us for a few reasons: firstly, baby boomers are after quality - they really want nice food that tastes awesome and they're willing to pay for it. Also they're surprisingly active. They tramp for fun and they tramp a lot more often than people of most other age groups. We hear stories from our baby boomer customers about their adventures that are just amazing.

What are some of the ways you're targeting or connecting with consumers in this group?

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The main way we connect with our customers is through word of mouth. Baby boomers are very much about reputation and quality, so they're willing to say if something is great or if it's not - and they tell a lot of their friends. Every day we get customers who have had the meals recommended by a friend, and once they've had their first meal they're hooked.

Most importantly for connecting to this market I've put my cellphone number on the website. A lot of people still want to talk to a real person and by being able to call the guy running it they're able to have any questions answered. It's much better than sending an email or talking to a random customer service person.

On the other hand, are there strategies you've tried for reaching this group that haven't worked as well?

About the only thing we've tried that hasn't worked for connecting our business to baby boomers is magazine advertising. I think baby boomers know that anyone can say anything in an advert regardless of how true it is - or not. They've been around long enough to know that, and really rely on either trying the meals themselves or hearing about it from friends.

COMING UP: Blogging is one way some small businesses are building brands and creating a following for their products or services. Why and how have some small business owners started blogging and what benefits are they seeing in their operations? If you've got a story to share, drop me a note: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.
What are some of your future plans in the business to grow or further connect with this market group?

We've found baby boomers like big bold flavours. It's surprising how many people think as you get older you go for blander food, but we've found nothing could be further from the truth, so we're always searching for ways to make a great nutritious meal that really excites the taste buds.

We'll also continue to do tastings and engage with people in person. For a lot of people knowing the people behind the business is really important; being able to call them if they have a question or know who's handling the orders for them makes it that much easier to do business with us.