Don’t Overlook the Boomers

This started out to be a statistics-heavy post.  But as I realized how boring it was to write, I knew it would be even more boring to read.  So, here’s one statistic for your consideration.  In 2008 one half of all Baby Boomers will be 50 years old or older. In other words, that’s 39 million potential customers.

For years advertisers have considered the "18-34" age group the most desirable.  This made perfect sense thirty years ago when this demographic held the lion’s share of the purchasing power.  But the 18-34s of the mid-seventies are the 48-64s of today.

These 50+ boomers are alive and well and have money to spend.  Not only that, thanks to advances in medical care, nutrition, and life style, they  don’t see themselves as "old".  There’s a HUGE market in products designed to either slow-down the aging process, or at least to make us look and feel younger.  Add the fact that thousands of boomers are turning 50 every day and you have an important market.

So what do boomers want? They want the same things they’ve always wanted, only with some modifications.  They can’t run as fast, jump as high, or see and hear as well as they once did—but they may think they can.  Our job is to help them maintain the illusion.  That means brighter lighting and bigger signs and tags in our stores.  It means giving some consideration to the music we play as background.  It means having chairs in the store.  It doesn’t mean asking a senior boomer if they want to sit down.  See the difference? 

It means sending the customer home knowing how to operate the expensive widget they just bought.  It means treating them with respect, but not as if they’re doddering senior citizens.  If you have young staff, make sure they understand that. 

The life span of the baby boom generation has coincided with some of the greatest advances in technology in human history.  (Boomers invented the PC and the Internet.)  Boomers are used to having the newest and the best.  That hasn’t changed.  You’re leaving money on the table if you assume that someone with gray hair isn’t interested in the hot new toy that just came in.

Senior boomers have more free time today than they did a few years ago.  The kids are grown.  They can afford to hire someone to do the jobs they used to do themselves.  But, don’t waste their time!  Convenience is very important to them.

The 50+ crowd doesn’t want to feel old and they don’t want you to treat them that way.   If you’re a member of this elite group, you remember that you used to think 50 was old.  Now you think 50 is young and maybe, just maybe, 80 is old.  But we’ll check back with you in ten years. 

The bottom line is that smart manufacturers and retailers will cater to the groups who have and want to spend the most money.  And don’t forget the influence that seniors have on their adult children. A recommendation from mom or dad is about as strong an endorsement as you can get.

Here are some interesting links:

AARP"Five Things You Don’t Know About Baby Boomers"

The Boomer Project


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