The Key to Winning Boomers Is To Be Turn-key

By Peter Hubbell

One of the biggest trends within the trend of aging is the boomers' desire for simplification and streamlining, and why not? As you age, you develop an increasingly keen appreciation of what matters and what doesn't. What matters is more quality time in a life that's running out of time, and what doesn't matter are the things that get in the way of getting what you want. Those material possessions that used to be a must-have? Now they're things that require time, money, maintenance, and upkeep. If you're marketing to boomers who have had enough with owning stuff, it's time to focus on turn-key solutions.

In marketing parlance, turn-key involves providing a product or service that is complete and ready for immediate use. Both of these benefits - complete and immediate - fulfill very specific and critical aging-related needs. By including everything that's necessary to use it, aging consumers can avoid wasting precious time sourcing accessories. And by being ready-to-go, it satisfies the desire for instant gratification which is growing in all age cohorts as on-line shopping fulfills demand on a dime. Here are some of the key sectors where turn-key has become the new imperative for marketing to age.

Real Estate

Turn-key in real estate is a move-in property that the new owner can begin to enjoy immediately or rent asap as is. While a younger consumer might relish the experience of renovating and furnishing a new home, the boomers are eyeing up condos in Guatemala with just the right appliances and decor in their favorite color scheme. Since time is worth more when you have less of it, they're making a balanced trade-off i.e. the pleasure of taking title to a new home, turning the key and hosting best friends is far more enjoyable than the time-consuming experience of creating your own dream home and delaying the gratification of its use. Regardless of what business you're in, think "move-in ready". Offer them something that delivers immediate joy or utility without preparation or practice.

All Inclusive Travel

At this stage of their life, a boomer travel enthusiast has experienced a lot of different destinations in different ways. While there's always a place for a DIY trip or a make-it-up-as-you-go itinerary, the growing preference for a mature traveler with mature tastes is a fully-planned, all-inclusive experience. I have some friends who are still raving about their week-long walking tour of Mallorca. They stayed in three different towns and four hotels and never lifted a suitcase or picked up a phone to make a meal reservation. There was a time when they might have thought of an all-inclusive experience as one that limited their spontaneity, but now that they're older it gives them freedom to do limitless things.


For every boomer who complains that technology has made their life more complicated, there are five who praise it for simplifying tedious tasks and freeing up more free time. Back in the day, nothing made you pull your hair out more than applying for a bank loan or a mortgage. But with the proliferation of on-line lenders like LightStream, you can get a loan for anything at any time in no time. Now you can bank on nights and weekends, be approved the same day and receive funds the next day. Businesses like turn-key financing fuel turn-key acquisitions. People are buying cars without ever driving them and closing on homes in seven days. Those are keys that practically turn themselves.

Customer Service

It's summer time and you're in the market for a new gas grill. For most, that means a trip to Lowe's or Home Depot where you'll find a wide selection of brands and styles, in stock and ready to take home. Perfect, until you realize that there's some significant assembly required, followed by a trip to a propane dealer to fill up the new tank - a serious half-day endeavor. In my town, there's a family owned hardware store that sells more grills than anyone else in the state. Their secret? Turn-key solutions for busy people who have better things to do on a weekend than to get frustrated with assembly instructions seemingly written in a different language. Instead, your new grill can be ordered over the phone, delivered fully assembled with a full tank of gas and put any place you want it in your yard. Need it cleaned or serviced? Yep, they do house calls too. During the pandemic they became a drive-through hardware store. Place your order on-line, come at the designated time and have the items walked to your car. Need a key made? They do that too ...

At the rate with which the world is changing, turn-key will become an antiquated expression in a world with no keys (what's a phone book anyways?). And the same trends that are rendering keys obsolete have now been accelerated by the pandemic e.g. digital transformation and remote-everything. Behold the power of these two potent forces, which when combined, will heighten the demand for immediate and hassle-free gratification to stratospheric levels. If your marketing doesn't already have a turn-key orientation to it, beware. You're at real risk of someone driving off in the night with your hard-earned market share.

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