The U.S. Census Bureau now has an official count for the number of Baby Boomers: 78,058,246.And we make up almost 26 percent of the entire U.S. population of 304,059,724.The census bureau last week released population data current to July 1, 2008.The Baby Boomer numbers represent those Americans who are between 45 and 64 years old.The 78 million Baby Boomers represent the nation's largest population segment.Some of the other numbers offered by the census bureau: Under 5 years old: 21,005,852 Ages 5 to 13: 36,004,639 Ages 14 to 17: 16,931,357 Ages 18 to 24: 29,757, 219The segment of college-age students will shrink in the next several years by almost half. What affect will that have on college enrollments?And there are the retirement issues with the size of the Baby Boomers themselves as they advance into the age of getting Social Security and Medicare, and whether the retirement system is prepared to handle the influx.
Boomers are assuming multi-generational housing responsibilities to a degree unknown since perhaps the Great Depression (remember "The Waltons"?). But 63% say that an adult child is living with them now. And 70% of those blame the economy for this outcome. Two-thirds of them even expect their adult child to remain with them for more than a year. Of those adult children, nearly half have brought one or more of their children with them. And that's on top of the 13% of Boomer women who report that their parents or in-laws are living with them as well. The result? Increased stress on the Boomer mom. While grateful they can support their children, 39% report that the experience has either strained or greatly worsened their relationship with the adult child they are hosting. They also told us that the experience has affected their available discretionary income, their marriage, and how much they can eat out or travel. We know that becoming an empty nester can be heart-breaking for many Boomer moms. But we also know that, sometimes after clearing out the child's bedroom to make way for a new home office, the empty nest offers a host of new opportunities to the Vibrant Boomer Woman. These opportunities are lost when the children move back in, and 71% of our respondents reported that living in a multi-generational household will make it harder for them to achieve their personal goals.
How should marketers respond to these facts? First of all, they should be supporting this woman as the overtaxed innkeeper she is, offering solutions to her multi-generational challenges, whether they involve food preparation, household cleaning, legal services, or financial planning. Second, they should remember that she needs a break, and remind her how they can help her achieve personal goals in spite of the crazy environment around her. Hotels and day-spas should present affordable ways to give the Boomer mom a break from boarding-house management. Colleges and other educators may want to suggest that this mother consider returning to school herself as a way to get away from her children. She doesn't want to put those personal goals on hold forever. Like the recession itself, these trends are powerful enough to suggest that the new, "full" nest will be with us for a while. Marketers should not consider it a temporary phenomenon, and the companies who win over this Boomer mom will be the ones who line up to do business with her first, right next to her adult children, grandchildren and parents.
Apple bucks the trend of how many companies market to Boomers. Consider: Absence of "senior" visuals: None of these campaigns uses an "older" actor to visually represent a Boomer as so many television and print advertisements do (think: pharma advertisements).In iPhone ads, the iPhone is the visual hero; only the actors' voices are present. In "First Steps," only the baby is shown; voices allude to the other actors. Given that many Boomers don't believe that they are "old," this non-senior casting is spot on. Absence of "senior" copy: The scripts never allude to age; there are no direct references to "now that we're of a certain age," common in so many advertisements targeting Boomers. Instead, Apple focuses on communicating the rational benefits of owning and using its products -- albeit highlighting Boomers' desire for technology that helps simplify and manage their lives. Authentic, clever story-telling: Apple uses story-telling to illuminate how technology helps a Boomer's life in an authentic and often humorous way. There is no staged, corny encounter between couples on the merits of a product over dinner or between spouses before they go to bed. Those conversations don't really happen in real life -- and Apple's creative team gets that. Of course, it helps that Apple products deliver on the advertised promises. They have won over Boomers with their thoughtful designs, intuitive user interfaces and inclusion of technologies that make Boomers' lives simpler or more rewarding. Maybe that's why Boomers represent a third of iPhone users, half of Mac users and the leading group that pays $99/year for one-on-one training in Apple's 284 store locations. Given that Boomers control 50% of all discretionary spending in the United States and that they are expected to outspend younger generations by $1 trillion on technology purchases in 2010, it's a smart strategy.
It's not entirely surprising that Facebook is their social network of choice since Boomers view social networks as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. According to Anderson Analytics, 58% of Boomers state that this is the reason they use social networks. This may also explain why Boomer-specific social networks never took off [with Boomer Authority as a notable exception]. Boomers need a multi-generational network and thus far only Facebook fits the bill: it offers Boomers access to old friends as well as their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and younger friends. Most Boomers also learned of a social network from a friend who sent an invite, suggesting that this demographic group is just as open to sharing discoveries as younger groups. And, if you're thinking, "Well, so what does this have to do with selling a product?," you should know that Boomers who use social networks are twice as likely, according to Anderson Analytics, to purchase products online than those who don't.
Implications for MarketersInclude social media in plans to reach Boomers: it is clear that social networks are not a passing phase for Boomers. Like others, they are finding that online social networks enhance their existing relationships. Join them at the networks they already frequent; don't create a separate unique network for them based on their age: Boomers want to connect with their friends and family across generations. They don't want to be segregated by age. Create "share worthy content": Boomers aren't just lurking on social networks, they are sharing and recruiting. Give them content they deem worthy of sharing or a reason to "recruit" others. Don't be afraid to incorporate video and pictures for Boomers to share: Half of Boomers on social networks have watched videos, uploaded pictures or read someone's blog. Finally, social media shouldn't replace traditional media yet for this age cohort: While Boomers are embracing social networks, they still spend significant amounts of time with traditional media -- television, newspapers and magazines -- more so than younger generations.
(Re) Introducing Florida Boomers: A Fresh and Surprising Look at the Consumers We Thought We Knew (but really didn’t) 1
Baby Boomers by the numbers Source: United States Census Bureau and its website.
Background and Methodology Plenty of information about Boomers nationally Goal: take the pulse of Florida boomers Survey dates: March 19 to 23, 2010 Specific to: Purchasing habits, consumer behavior and influence Optimism/Pessimism and Life outlook Health and wellness Receptivity to marketing messages Scientific JettPoll™ of 444 Florida boomers 45-54 (49%) -men (52%) 55-64 (51%) -women (48%) Also balanced by region Precision is +/- 4.7% at the 95% confidence level
The Boomer Home in 2010: A Multi- Generational Boarding House 10 13% of female boomers have live-in parents or in-laws 71% report it’s harder to achieve their personal goals Discretionary income, marriage, travel and dining budgets are all strained 63% have an adult child living with them 70% blame the economy Source: MediaPost’s Engage: Boomers 3-1-2010.
Result? An overtaxed innkeeper with “full nest syndrome” who thinks “I didn’t sign up for this.” 12
How can marketers help the overtaxed “innkeeper” boomer moms? 2. Help her get away 1. Offer solutions Affordable Hotels Day trips Day-spas Colleges for continuing education Chocolate and other affordable indulgences Food preparation Household cleaning Legal services Financial planning 13 Thenew “full nest” will be with us for a while and the companies who win over this Boomer mom do business with her first, then her adult children, and eventually their grand children and parents. Source: MediaPost’s Engage: Boomers 3-1-2010.
Advertising receptivity What’s important to Florida boomers when it comes to advertising messages targeting them? Case Study: advertising that missed the mark Spot on boomer advertising Apple Boomers and social media 16
The boomer brand promise: integrity, positive interactions, innovation 17
Social Media Participation By Generation 24 US Internet users who currently maintain a social networking site profile.
85% of younger Boomers check into social media sites at least once a week or more
73% of older Boomers check into social media sites at least once a week or more
Source: MediaPost’s Engage: Boomers 2-8-2010.
Top Social Media Sites Among Boomers 25 Source: MediaPost’s Engage: Boomers 2-8-2010.
Social media implications for marketers Include social media in boomer marketing plans Don’t segregate by age Create “share worthy” content Include multi-media content: video, audio graphics Don’t replace traditional media. Boomers are still spending significant time with “old media”, specifically: TV Newspapers Magazines 26 Source: MediaPost’s Engage: Boomers 2-8-2010.
Florida boomers…in summary Is it safe to come out? Florida boomers are mixed on being bullish vs. bearish on Florida’s ability to bounce back But… 74% plan to stay in Florida 71% claim FL allows unique lifestyle advantages Poor finances ≠ poor quality of life And boomers are still spending money 27
Lessons for marketers Take another look at the nation’s largest population segment; they’re not going away Florida boomers value integrity, innovation and advertising that makes them feel positive when using their products and services (Apple) Avoid reminding them of their youth, making them feel in touch with younger generations Avoid reminding them of their age. If you must, make them feel empowered. Boomers are redefining aging Avoid prematurely categorizing them (AARP, The Scooter Store, retirement, funeral services, etc. ) By all accounts, avoid stereotypes Pre-test your campaigns with actual boomers—either on your staff or via consumer research 29
Lessons for marketers The Great Recession: low prices are now #1 driver of loyalty—vs. customer service in 2008* Need to understand how the role of the brand has changed This too shall pass…but will you be ready for the new boomer consumer? 30 *Source: Retail Customer Experience.com 4/2/2010