Baby Boomers: Experiences Matter
In 1966, Baby Boomers were named as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”. Even though the Boomers at that time were under 25, it was already clear that they were making a major cultural impact. Simply due to the force of their numbers, Boomers have made a tremendous difference in history and society as they have moved through the demographic spectrum.
Born from 1946 to 1964, there are 75 million Boomers representing around 29 percent of the U.S. population. Approximately 3.2 million Baby Boomers turned 62 in 2008. This means they are getting close to retiring. However, a survey by The Associated Press found that even after retirement, which they are expecting to happen around age 63, 66 percent of them expect to work for pay. Forty-three percent will do so because they want to stay busy, 27 percent say they'll keep working to make ends meet and another 19 percent will work so that they can afford "extras." This is especially true now that we are going through a recession.
Retirement however, brings about one question to the minds of this generation – “What will we do?” Boomers tend to define their identity based on their work or occupation. Their community is based on being a part of a work team. Once they are retired, they are going to need to establish a new purpose for themselves – a new identity. They will need to find a new community, whether it be their family, another job, a health club or a religious group. They are going to want to stay active by participating in activities like biking, swimming, tennis, golf, traveling, etc. Retirement, for some, will bring about the opportunity to live out some dreams they didn’t realize earlier in their lives.
By 2010, one-third of the U.S. population will be over 50 years old and they are expected to outspend younger adults by $1 trillion. The over-50 crowd also shows the highest intent to purchase consumer electronics – out of any other age group. Boomers spend a large portion of their disposable income on apparel, health care and grocery purchases. One interesting bit of information that you might not expect is that retailers such as Build-a-Bear Workshop are a hit with this generation because they enjoy taking their grandkids to these kinds of places. A few of the other preferences of Baby Boomers are:
- Subtlety – It is in your interest to court this generation based on their buying power. However, you need to make sure you go out of your way to not make them feel old. Boomers still feel young and will reject an environment that reminds them of their increasing age.
- Experiences – Baby Boomers prefer sit-down restaurants, entertainment venues and specialty retailers that offer an “experience” to go with their products.
Because Boomers are looking for experiences and a new identity, they are open to changes and enjoy trying new things. This is a great time for marketers to attract this target audience. Show Boomers that you know they are individuals, smart, active and still young at heart. Do not get caught stereotyping or calling them “seniors.” After all, Boomers are considered America’s largest and most wealthy demographic segment. You definitely don’t want to offend them.
Stay tuned for a recap and comparison of the three generations I have covered: Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers.
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