Marketing to Baby Boomers

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Today, the youngest Baby Boomer is 53 and the oldest is 72. This wide-spanning group has witnessed and shaped almost every major event of the past century. While they may be aging, they still have more buying power than any other demographic, and there are no signs of them slowing down.

Who is a Baby Boomer?

Baby Boomers are defined as the group born immediately following World War II, from mid-1946 continuing thru mid-1964. The name “Baby Boomer” stems from soldiers coming back from the war. With one baby born every 17 minutes in the year after the end of the war, “Baby Boom” seemed reasonable. The 18-year time span, a length that surpasses the exodus of World War II, is based on the birth rate returning to the pre-1946 rate.

Boomers are more than just parents and grandparents. They grew up during the sixties and seventies and were highly influenced by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, and politics. There have been 13 Presidents since they were first born, and three Presidents are Boomers themselves. They are technology innovators; witnessing firsthand autonomous cars and wearable computers. Some famous tech Boomers include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Michael Dell. Boomers were there for the first moon landing as well as the Challenger and Columbia disasters. They witnessed both the inception and privatization of space travel. They have had front row seats to cloning and transplanting. Additionally, they experienced multiple wars. Globally, they remember the USSR and a divided East and West Germany. Tragically, they remember both attacks on the World Trade Center and every mass school shooting since Charles Whitman climbed the tower at the University of Texas in 1966. Let’s not forget to mention the advent of the internet as well.

What is a Silver Dollar?

The dollars that the aging generation is spending has been nicknamed the “Silver Dollar.” This is a reference to the graying or silver hair of the consumers. Some marketers recognize the value in this group and market accordingly. These advertisers implement strategy and creative assets dedicated to the older demographic. But, there are far more that treat this group as an aside or afterthought. To them, Boomers are the fringe to be captured within their Adults 25-54 campaigns. This can be a mistake as marketing to Boomers is far different than marketing to Millennials, although Gen X can be associated with both Boomers and Millennials. Yes, it gets confusing!

Which Generation Spends the Most Money?

Boomers currently account for about half of consumer spending in the United States. The fastest-growing segment is the Boomer consumer and they have a higher level of discretionary spending power. To be more finite, by the end of this decade, annual consumer spending by age 60+ globally will reach $15 trillion.

What About Retirement?

Will consumer spending among Baby Boomers go down when they retire? The question isn’t at what age they want to retire…It’s at what income. Two-thirds of Baby Boomers plan to or already are working past age 65 or do not plan to retire. Baby Boomers are keeping their skills up so that they can continue working beyond retirement or into it if needed. Boomers have a unique fear of outliving their savings as one reason that they felt like they couldn’t retire.

What are Boomers Spending their Money on?

The list varies in order from report to report, but everyone can agree that these are the top things that the older demo is spending their money on.

  • Travel
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment
  • Hobbies
  • Family
  • Consumer Goods
  • Automobiles
  • Education

Travel is at the top of almost every Baby Boomers bucket list. Boomers as a whole prefer longer vacations. Seventy percent preferred luxury hotels and more than seventy percent would like to be on a beach.

Education is an area of spending that’s growing for this generation, and the money being spent on tuition isn’t just for their children. Their enrollment comes for various reasons. It could be self-gratification and their need to finish something that they started; they are looking for a more fulfilling occupation, or they feel like they need to go back to protect themselves from unemployment. Universities need to understand that no matter why they are returning to the classroom, they can’t advertise to them the same way they are to other undergraduates. A better life is more important than “Student Life.”

How Should Advertisers Reach Baby Boomers?

Traditional media methods (especially TV, Radio, print & OOH) are a common way to reach them, they do spend time online, about as much time as they do watching TV, they use search engines and view online videos. But they do not live on the internet as Millennials do.

As I touched on earlier, advertisers need to treat Baby Boomers like the individuals they are. A smiling grandmother in three-seconds of a thirty-second commercial does not accomplish a multi-generational commercial. While they may love their grandchildren, they aren’t just about babysitting and bingo. They are vibrant and living life to the fullest. Advertising should take the time to depict that?

More to come later on Gen X, Millenials, and Generation Z. They are all different animals which have specific criteria that need to be considered and utilized through specific tactics if you really want to reach them. Stay tuned!