As we enter a new decade, marketing to the largest, wealthiest and most diverse generation in the country, the Baby Boomers, may seem an intimidating task. That doesn’t have to be the case. We want to provide you with some tips for reaching this group, whose members no longer qualify as young Americans but are not yet senior citizens either.
When World War II ended in 1945, many countries experienced a boom in births. Nearly 78 million Americans today were born between 1946 and 1964. Three years ago, the oldest boomers turned 60 years old, and approximately 8,000 people turn 60 every day.
Boomers are a diverse group comprised of empty-nesters, parents and grandparents. Probably the most significant fact about this group for your business is that they remain the wealthiest and most educated of purchasers.
Why do boomers require special attention?
This famously non-conformist group reportedly has around $2.3 trillion1 in hard-earned cash to spend. Blaine Branchik, a marketing and advertising professor, told the New York Times2, “Baby boomers each believe they belong to a market segment made up of exactly one person. Many believe the only thing they have in common is that they are all so unique that they have nothing in common.”
Marketers are faced with the dilemma of how to reach millions while making Boomers feel as if they’re speaking to them individually. Some marketers may opt to categorize and label Boomer consumers to make this task easier. For example, the consulting firm Age Wave has categorized post-retirement consumers as “Ageless Explorers,” “Comfortably Contents,” “Live for Todays” and “Sick and Tireds.” As Boomers move up in age, their sense of individuality may make categorizing them more of a challenge.
It is important to be cognizant of Boomers’ needs because they represent big bucks in potential sales. Rix Quinn, author of a syndicated column about Boomers, suggests that there are 10 things this generation will need most within the next 20 years: affordable health insurance, housing, low-cost transportation, travel options, communication options, fitness solutions, advice on care giving, advice on parenting, investments and more education.3
When marketing to Boomers, don’t even imply that they’re “old,” for the same reason you wouldn’t call young adults “kids”—they simply don’t like it. One optimistic Boomer stated, “When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a 50-year-old. I see a 35-year-old.”1 Many Boomers will even purchase an item targeted to a younger group simply because it reminds them more of their youth and less of their current age. For example, despite being marketed to a younger audience, the Honda Element has been popular among retirees who appreciate that it is low to the ground and can easily hold items like gardening gear.
Get in on the opportunity
A careful, targeted effort to reach the boomer audience can pay dividends—and it’s likely many are already your customers or clients. After all, they have the cash; we just have to earn their respect. To do so, be sure to keep these things in mind:
1) Speak to Boomers as individuals.
2) Be mindful of Boomers’ needs and their perception of their needs.
3) Never label Boomers as “old.”
1 MSNBC.com, “Baby Boomers create new marketing frontier”
2 New York Times, “Six Decades at the Center of Attention, and Counting”
3 eZinearticles, “10 Things Most Baby Boomers Need”