Baby Boomers are booming

HomeEditorialsBaby Boomers are booming

by Al Wahnon

I recently wrote about how marketers have been neglecting an important market segment, one that is the most affluent and influential demographic in the country, that has the most purchasing power and controls 80% of all purchases of both consumer and business goods and services—women 50 and older. Today, I read an article that lamented “the marketing focus always seems to be on youth, consumers 18 to 34 or 18 to 49,” who spend (or have a key role in spending) billions of dollars every year. I can understand being attentive to that gold-plated portion of the consumer pie, but not if it means giving diminished attention to a group that has tremendous buying power—the 78 million baby boomers in the U.S. today.

The Boomers are a unique group, born between 1946 and 1964, the oldest beginning to retire. They have been mistakenly defined as “spend little, resist technology and slow to adopt new products,” which must be re-assessed.

Boomers are prosperous and enjoy most of life’s comforts; they adopt technology with enthusiasm and they display a willingness, if not an eagerness, to try new brands and products. Marketers should spend more of their efforts and resources on boomers and maybe their reward would justify the investment. It is estimated that “less than 5% of advertising dollars is currently targeted toward adults 35 to 64, which includes the latter half of Generation X in addition to boomers.” With most marketers generally focusing on the 18 to 49 segment, more than half of the affluent boomer demographic—ages 46 to 64—is ignored entirely. When marketers get the boomers in their cross hairs, they will see the boomers boom.

The aptly named generations that comprise the demographic spectrum include Millennials and Gen-Xers, but the Boomers are the largest group of consumers and a fertile audience for marketers for years to come. “As the country continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers,” said Pat McDonough, senior vice president, Insights, Analysis and Policy at the Nielsen Co. He shared some facts about Boomers that Nielsen prepared defining the strength of the group.

Boomers dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories. They watch the most television, 9.34 hours a day. They comprise one third of all TV viewers, online users, social media users and Twitter users. They time shift TV more than the 18 to 24 group, 2:32 vs. 1:32. They are significantly more likely to own a DVD player. And they are likely to have broadband Internet access at home.

Those are impressive statistics. One more thing: If you think the websites the Boomers visit are entirely different than those frequented by adults age 18 to 34, you would be mistaken; eight of the top 10 websites are the same. Boomers top 10 websites: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, YouTube, Wikipedia, Ask and Amazon. The 18 to 34 top 10: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Bing, YouTube, Microsoft, AOL, Fox Interactive Media, Apple and Wikipedia.

These are difficult times. Some analysts say we have turned the corner and are experiencing a slow recovery. Others believe we have not hit bottom. All, however, are predicting slower growth in consumer spending and find that as one of the key elements of the recovery. Marketers don’t have to be rocket scientists to explore every opportunity to grow market share and tailor marketing strategy to target Boomers as prime customers. That is a potent group of affluent consumers that can fuel the fires of recovery for any business that knows how to reach them. Don’t wait for it to happen—make it happen.

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