Boomers are about to increase dramatically in size in the next ten years. No, not our bodies individually, but the body of boomers, the powerful overall demographic: Ages 50+ (That’s us!) will grow by 22 percent, according to U. S. Census Bureau data.
Matt Thornhill, founder of the marketing research and consulting firm, the Boomer Project, figures boomers really began to “matter” about eight years ago. Even then, he says, advertising agencies were “slow to respond. They figured people over 50 were set in their ways, not interested in trying new things. Now, all that has changed.”
Don’t Ignore Us
Thornhill cites recent data from the last Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey that shows…
- the 50+ segment spent $2.7 trillion on goods and services, while under 50 spent $3.1 trillion.
“You’re talking about a difference of $400 billion dollars, so if you’re focusing on the 18 – 49 demo, you’re ignoring 47 percent of the market.”
Those chief marketing officers who wisely determine how to include 50+ in the marketing plan will foster brands that succeed. Don’t do that, and proceed at your own peril, says Thornhill. “If you turn off the incredibly important 50+ market, you’re screwed.”
Although the boomer segment is 76 million, “they all think of themselves as one in a million,” says Thornhill. And of course, he’s right. He does take issue with anyone who lumps all boomers into their own affinity group. “There’s no such thing.”
American business: Are you listening? Rick Erwin agrees in AdAge this week, writing that “mini-segments” of boomers, such as those with adult children back in the house or those caring for aging parents, constitute “different consumer segments with potentially significantly varying needs.”
Additionally, said Erwin, “what may have been an appropriate message strategy a few years ago may not be accurate today. The purchase behaviors of affluent, trailing-edge baby boomers in their peak earning years are vastly different compared to empty-nesting baby boomers who are on the cusp of retirement.”
Even though recent media reports have focused on “delusional” boomers who think they’ll live long and healthy lives, Thornhill says we’re much more realistic than that.
“Boomers are not trying to stay young any more. They accept the fact that they can’t,” he says. “They’re drinking from the fountain of vitality, not youth. We boomers will spend time and money trying to stay vital until we take our last breath. It’s a perfect time for marketers to help us accomplish that task.”
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