From The Desk of Ted DeCorteOctober 30, 2007Baby Boomers: Who Are We?Baby Boomer MarketingWhat Your Know. What You Think You Know21st century marketing ﬁrms palpitate at the thought of the purchasing power of “BabyBoomers” over the next 30 years. Baby Boomers, approximately 78 million of them, make upwhat is viewed as the largest “Big Spenders” the planet has ever seen. Yet as the BBs areviewed as some monolithic tsunami gaining economic strength, ready to deluge theeconomic landscape with billions of pent up dollars, BBs are far from monolithic in theirpolitical, economic and social tastes, and marketers should take note.Baby Boomers in the U.S. & Canada (and Great Britain and some European countries) havebeen thusly dubbed as they represent the post-World War II generation born from 1946 to1964 – an eighteen year period of intense domestication and family building, fostered by apre-birth control, pre-feminist era of immense conspicuous consumerism. Add to this the“leveling” effects of the proliferation of the automobile, the advent of national commercialtelevision & the standardization of public education, and the BB generation becomes ageneration unlike any one before it.Yet, the eighteen-year Baby Boomer period represents two very distinct groups, the older BBsfrom 1946 to approximately 1955 and the young BBs from 1956 to 1964. Their collectiveexperiences differed from one another much as the oldest siblings in a family differ sodrastically from younger ones. Whereas older BBs are on the edge of retirement, taking careof their elder parents, and beginning to experience the “empty nest” syndrome en masse,younger BBs may have children still in pre- or elementary school and see themselves in theirforties as actively engaged in their career & family trajectories.Older BBs are beginning to transition or “shiftdown” their lives in some fashion, whileyounger BBs are still “shifting up”. The two BB groups are as signiﬁcantly different as thosewho listened in their formative years to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Traffic, Pink Floyd, andthe Beach Boys, and those who listened to Abba, Van Halen, Air Supply, the B-52s, & DuranDuran. It’s as signiﬁcant as those who watched Annette Funicello on a 12 inch black & white
TV screen and those who watched Star Trek on a 20 inch color screen. And then there arethose 8 track tapes vs. cassettes, or Sean Connery as James Bond vs. Roger Moore, or the“Vietnam War” & Watergate generation vs. the Iran Hostage crisis & Reagan one. Younger BBsare the largest share of the total U.S. population.With this distinction made, here is what we can say about the BBs and their impact to themarketplace.Desire to bring simplicity to their life via new products.User generated or navigator brands, i.e. Facebook & Google, to take control of contentconsumption and branding and help them ﬁnd what they want. BBs are at the forefront of theUSER REVOLUTION.Improve brain health and ﬁtness. BBs do not see them selves as “old” but do understand the“slowing down” of their physical capabilities and want to address them head on.BBs are the television generation – more than any other generation before or since. They arethe largest TV viewers in U.S. as they have not gravitated en masse to other forms of media.BBs are more eclectic than other generations in their media choices – using TV, internet,radio, YouTube, print media. More eclectic than younger AND older generations.BBs still read printed books & magazines – preferring them to digital versions.BBs are dominated by female decision makers. By 2030 – females will be 60% of BBs.BBs are 42% of the workforce today and hold most of the major corporate & politicalpositions in the U.S..BBs state that they will never “retire” fulltime like their parents and they plan to retire later.BBs will go into “Un-Retirement”.BBs plan to be younger longer and to work longer, and will mix work with play.BBs will reinvent retirement with hodgepodge of part-time, ﬂex-time, telecommuting,consulting and entrepreneuring.Trends will include retro sports, folklore/storytelling, micro housing developments, fauxfamilies, social/cultural renaissance, custom tailored health vitamins/elixers, turn “retired”time into political power, nostalgia & collectibles, automobile downsizing, householddownsizing, increased household furnishings, home remodeling, multi-media centers,gamble via lottery or LV, increased need for ﬁnancial counseling, personal and planetaryhealth, aging gracefully – not youthfully (think Helen Mirren).BBs VOTE and are the single largest voting bloc and they are beginning to ﬂex their political
and social muscle.BBs shop quality & price and have been the impetus for “discount” stores, i.e. Costco,WalMart, Target, Ross.Many BBs will NOT retire to “senior” communities. Gravitating to smaller intergenerationalcommunities.BBs will regain freedom – freedom from children – which equates into time to doing otherthings.And don’t call them “senior citizens”. They are mature or elderly.BBs still use PRINT MEDIA as information/recreation source.TV is till the #1 mass medium for BBs.BBs stick with what they know, but they do embrace the new . .adding it to their repertoirerather than replacing it, i.e. print, TV, radio, Internet, IPhone.BBs WILL adopt one-touch multi-media and technology to improve their lives and save time.BBs very diverse. 12% are immigrants. Increases in both Hispanic & Asian BBs.Older BBs come from Civil Rights era, yet are dominated by ethnic, cultural and economicclasses of the past. Older BBs still represent an “unequal” American Society. 10% of older BBslive in poverty. Olders BBs have not experienced the economic “boom” across-the-board asyounger generations have.Inequities in wealth and income will persist and increase as BBs age. BBs more unequal thanother generations.BBs better educated than previous generations.Younger BBs are ﬁrst generation that begins to experience a positive “equality” shift.Older BBs were not all campus radicals and many cannot relate to the counter culture exceptthrough “mainstream” outlets – i.e. music, radio, TV.BBs will work longer as many held off on having children and thus have children in college.BBs have saved less than previous generations. Yet, overall they have more disposableincome and most will have more time to earn, save and compound the interest on theirinvestments.Huge jump in travel and healthcare marketing opportunities.A BB reaches age 50 every 7 seconds.For recreation, Older BBs are heading to Las Vegas, whereby younger BBs are still active inmore strenuous sports, i.e. mountain climbing, skiing, etc.Las Vegas’ Older BB tourists stay longer and spend more money.
Other BB trends: full-service restaurants, travel, second homes, smaller homes, health/ﬁtness,BBs (primarily women) will pursue educational and hobby venues that were “back burnered”for family and career.42% of BBs state they will cycle between work and leisure during “retirement” period.16% state they will have part-time jobs13% state they will start businesses6% state they will work fulltime17% will RETIRE completely.Internet Job Banks for Older BBs will ﬂourish, i.e. YourEncore.com. SeniorJobbank.com,Seniors4Hire.com, Dinosaur Exchange.The MARKET will demand that BBs remain in the labor force as there will be a labor/talentshortage in 2011+.BBs will transform from “ME” generation to “WE” generation as they turn their focus ontotheir children, grandchildren, their parents and their communities.BBs are more “outer directed” – 10 times more likely to “put others ﬁrst”.BB women are better educated, more independent and ﬁnancially engaged.HUGE difference in the way BB women plan to retire and BB men. BB women will pursuefurther educational, community involvement & personal growth. BB men want to spend moretime with their spouse.Older BBs watch more TV and listen to more radio than any other generation.BBs are “On-Line” as much as the Net Generation. Boomer though do not multi task asyounger generations, preferring to stay with one medium at a time.69% of Boomers use Internet as source for information (compared to 74% for youngergenerations).Internet savvy BBs go on-line more and stay on-line longer than younger generations.RETIRE for BBs will mean: MORE TIME to devote to Media outlets.BBs are increasingly HOMEBODIES. They are NOT relocating to new economic “hot spots” andmany are returning to their older more mature regions of the country where they grew up.Where do BBs live?: New England, Eastern seaboard, upper Midwest, upper Rocky Mtn westand Paciﬁc NW.Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont & Maine have the largest share of BBs.
Followed by Wash DC, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin &Michigan.The largest BB communities are Falls Church, Wash DC, Marin County, Putnam NY, Denver,Nashville, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, Baltimore, Portland, Santa Fe, as well as former“Yuppie” communities – Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta and Wash DC.BB eating habits still shape restaurant marketing behavior as BBs move to steak, salad, soupand seafood venues.BBs want to “have it their way” regarding prepared foods and consumer goods.BBs STILL visit shopping malls more than any other generation.BBs are more likely to have underage children – their own or their grandchildren – still athome2/3rd are marriedBBs less likely to change their marital status as this stage of life and less likely to changejobs6 million BBs are already grandparents – quadrupling over the next 10 yearsBBs are highly individualistic, less happy with the status quo, more skeptical and more likelyto reject authorityBBs are notorious credit card usersBBs have less leisure time than their parents as they have both their children and theirparents to care forBBs focus on education and own computers – more so than other generations.BBs are more intuitive than reason orientedFirst impressions are important to BBs – more emotionally basedBBs want more information than younger consumersBBs more sensitive to metaphorical meanings, nuances & subtleties; more receptive tonarrative style communication – Think Hallmark Cards.BBs STILL purchase CDs and visit retail music stores. Only 6% download digital music only.MUSIC is central to BBs lifestyle and compilations of their favorite artists or genre are “hits”.——————————————————————————–One survey identiﬁes ﬁve different BB Groups:
1. Empowered Trailblazers2. Wealth-Builders3. Leisure Lifers4. Anxious Idealists5. Stretched & StressedEach has a different “hot” button.——————————————————————————–Mindshare, a media consulting ﬁrm, sees two types of BB media consumers:1. Leading Edge – 45 to 54 years-old – CSI, The West Wing & ER – interest in news, scienceﬁction (from Star Trek years), and Lifetime cable network – entertainment for women. Willsearch for “in-depth” programming, ie. Social documentaries, challenging scientiﬁc specials,comedies with sophisticated historical or cultural references, substantive radioprogramming, Cable News. BBs average 21 hours per week listening to radio. News/Talkradio is #1, Rock is #5.2. Later Boomers – 35 to 44 years-old – ER, Friends & Survivor – interest in reality shows,science ﬁction. Rock radio is #2 and adult contemporary #1.——————————————————————————–Boomer Cultural Trends:Bach & Botticelli are out. Classical is being replaced by “show or movie theme music”, thinkJohn Williams, James Horner & John Barry. Older BBs will still dominate the ﬁne arts venuesfor a time – classical music concerts, opera, theater, ballet and art museums as they mirrortheir parents tastes. Younger BBs do not. Younger BBs made up 44% of the jazz concertattendees, but that ﬁgured has now dropped to 26%.How to Market to BBs?1. Sell experience, not age
2. Use “Mature” or “Prime”, not “older” or “Senior”3. Use positive role models – don’t focus on limitations – use healthy, active, age-appropriate role models in advertising.4. Use larger fonts – or give BBs ability to manipulate fonts on webpage.5. Make good use of white space – copy too dense is hard to read6. Use strong colors and contrasts – b & w is best – not subtle color differences.7. Do not refer to older customers in 3rd person. Address them directly and personally.8. Treat them like family9. Identify niche opportunities/markets10. Ads need to connect to BBs idealized image of self11. WOMEN – responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases!/ 92%-vacations/ 91% -houses / consumer electronics – 51% / Cars – 60% / banking relationship – 89% / healthcaredecisions – 80% - NEED I SAY MORE!12. BBs are not older versions of “30-somethings”——————————————————————————–Baby Boomers will provide ample marketing opportunities for several generations ofmarketers & entrepreneurs over the next 30 years. Anticipating and responding to both theﬁrst OLDER wave and the more substantial YOUNGER wave will be an exciting & potentiallylucrative challenge. Our intuitive decision of providing a marketing focus involving bothdigital and print media will serve us well to “captivate:” and “capture” a portion of this hugewave. The above “snap shot” of BBs will certainly assist us in identifying trends, issues andproducts that will be of importance to BBs over the next 30 years.P.S. - The After ThoughtsYou may ﬁnd my “research” ﬁndings a bit rambling, but there are certain themes that I havetried to capture as well as certain stereotypes I tried to shatter about BBs.
BBs are a much more diverse group with a different consumer pattern than the rest of thepopulation – both older and younger. The 50+ BBs have in many ways more in common with“their elders” than they have with the 40+ early BBs. Older Boomers are the “bridge” betweenthe “older culture” of their parents and the “newer culture” of today. Older BBs as a wholehave adopted, and adapted to, both the old and new.BB demographic research points to a much broader spectrum of opportunities for those whowish to target this diverse group. AND it is a long marketing ride - some 30 years! Yet, to besuccessful a marketing focus must ﬁnd the commonalities and “dissect” the differencesbetween Old and New BBs to provide unique, targeted experiences.Either way, old or new BB – a WOMAN’S POV – will play a major role in how your BB marketingefforts play out. Think Sally Field (1946), Oprah (1954) - the early BBs, and Meg Ryan-(1961), Sandra Bullock (1964) - the late BBs!- Ted DeCorte, M.A.