I was shopping with The Cute Girl this weekend and discovered nobody under 50 in the appliance department of Best Buy. Ageism in this case is a sort of defense mechanism; I’m not really going to trust some Gen-Y’er to inform my refrigerator purchase as he riffs about how bomb the icemaker is. I will take the word of someone who has years of cooking under their belts.
This got me thinking; what if Apple provided a fund to Best Buy to hire a ton of unemployed, not-yet-retired Baby Boomers to be PC experts?
Baby Boomers who couldn’t get hired anywhere else would love it. Boomer tech shoppers would love to have someone their age to relate to for technology questions (huge market capture!). Best Buy would regain market share lost to other dealers who might be more age-friendly. By all accounts, Apple would be praised for providing training and assisting in the creation of a slew of new jobs.
Reverse this situation and you have the Microsoft Store. A slew of Gen-Y-ish peeps promoting Microsoft-based products and partner products to anyone who wants to listen.
In hiring Baby Boomers to be PC Experts, Apple would look like a hero despite stacking the deck – flooding the PC department with what Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Gen-Z would perceive as geezerville. Wrong or not, you’ll send ’em straight toward the Apple section. Push the bar further by encouraging “partner days”; something I did as an HP employee. A hip, young employee from Apple shows up with Best Buy’s blessing to inform customers about the latest and greatest from Apple (when asked). When it comes time to whip out the wallet, and that nice young person from Apple has been helping me, and there’s nobody here from Dell, guess who’s computer I’m going to buy?
If you’re getting uppity about this idea, consider the Get A Mac commercials featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long. Justin Long is supposed to be a younger, cooler individual and John Hodgman, who could act his way out of an execution, is supposed to be an old, stodgy dufus.
Seth Godin wrote today about the limitations of intolerance as a marketing strategy; I definitely agree, but there’s power in perception – especially when you’re the one projecting perceptions into the market. What perceptions are you projecting?
(Photo credit: yaruman5, creative commons license)