Huffington Launches A Boomer Site Called 'Post 40' - What's Post-40 About Boomers?

Why is it that everyone wants to launch sites for Boomers but no one wants to target Boomers themselves?

Ten days ago, the Huffington Post announced it would be launching a new site aimed at Baby Boomers, edited by a celebrity Boomer herself: Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks and co-producer of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

At 54, Wilson is exactly the age of the "average" Boomer. And although she has almost no journalistic experience, she looks great and seems to have a feel for cultural trends. So far, so good.

But what about the name that Wilson and Huffington agreed on? "Huff/Post 40."

I like the pun -- taking advantage of the website's "HuffPo" nickname while also indicating its target. But what about that target itself?

It's inaccurate, for one. The vast majority of Boomers are in their 50s and 60s. In a couple of years, there won't be any Boomers in their 40s. Will they really relate to a site calling them "post-40"?

But it also seems disingenuous. Huffington says the new site will target "the Baby Boomer generation," but also said it "is designed to appeal to men and women over 40."

In a press release, Wilson said, "Issues related to being over 40 have always intrigued me. The Over 40s I have met are some of the most interesting, vibrant, curious, courageous, sexy, energetic people I know. The idea that we Boomers are somehow supposed to wind things down as we get older has completely escaped me."

One thing women have taught me at VibrantNation.com is that there is a much bigger difference between 50 and 40 than there is between 40 and 30. At 40, almost no woman has begun menopause. At 40, very few women have sent their children to college or lost a parent. By 50, everything is different; women's bodies are different, their values are different, and the way they think about themselves and the future are different.

Certainly Wilson and Huffington herself (who turns 61 next week) understand this. What does 40 look like among the women they know? Sofia Coppola is 40; Uma Thurman is 41; and Jennifer Aniston is 42. Does anyone think that these women are (in Wilson's terms) "supposed to wind things down"? Or does anyone think that they really share a set of life stage-specific interests with women in the 50s and 60s? I don't.

So why is a smart publisher like Huffington saying that Boomers are 40+; and why is Wilson saying that people over 40 need to connect with each other in midlife?

Unfortunately, it's because advertisers would be less interested in the site if they thought its goal was to reach real Boomers: men and women over 50. Huffington wants to avoid the challenges faced by More magazine, which ended up with a loyal subscriber base of women aged 50 whom their advertisers didn't want to reach. So More turned its back on those women and started targeting the women its advertisers wanted it to target: women in their 30s and 40s.

And here's the challenge for Huffington and Wilson. If they actually target Boomers with life stage-relevant content, they will drive away the advertisers they need to survive. But if they create a site that is attractive to readers in their 30s and 40s (and even some in their 50s and 60s as well) ... well, they've already done that, and it's called the Huffington Post.

Publishers who really want to engage Boomers actually have to embrace them, whether advertisers want to join them or not.

Recommend (98)
7 comments about "Huffington Launches A Boomer Site Called 'Post 40' - What's Post-40 About Boomers? ".
  1. Karie Barrett from QAT , July 18, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.

    As a marketing professional and woman in her early 40's, I find this lumping together of the Boomers and Generation X together ridiculous. My mother is a Boomer! Surely Huffington has the resources to know that she and I do not share the same interests and are not at the same stage in life. As for the lack of interest in targeting the true woman of the Boomer generation, they should think again. A large portion of them are retired and very active with the resources to do and buy what they wish. Sounds like it's time to go back to target marketing 101 and try again!

  2. Diane Dzurochak from NONE , July 18, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.

    Great commentary. As a 50+ woman, I totally concur. It is clear that American business still cannot bring itself to acknowledge the sheer numbers of Boomers (and their spending power). Unfortunately, I can't see it changing anytime soon as our culture is obsessed with youth.

    It seems to me that marketers are only seeing what they want, which is that many of us 50+ are going to great lengths to look and feel as young as we can. I think they feel that we are ALL doing that and therefore, lumping us in with that group makes sense (and is cheaper on the budget).

    The only consolation for this dismissive cultural behavior is that one day, all those 20-40 yr olds will actually BE one of us.

  3. Patricia Friedlander from Word-Up! , July 18, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.

    My kids are approaching 40 while I'm in my mid-60s! c'mon! I'll be really happy when we retire the Boomer designation completely. I'm really tired of being talked about in the 3rd person. There are concerns that those of us who are in our 50s and 60s have that could be addressed without categorizing us: exercise, anti-aging products and techniques, nutrition, fashion, etc. I am appalled when I look at fashion magazines and see that most of the profiled 'celebrities' are people in their early 20s. People in their early 20s aren't buying Vogue! As a marketer and entrepreneur as well as a grandma, mother and hip chick, I want someone to talk to ME not about me.

  4. Bryan Durr from Boomer Life Media , July 21, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.

    Really? Not going after Boomers?

    We are...

    http://boomerlifermedia.com

    We saw this coming ten years ago and we were laughed at.

    “The problem with being ahead of your time is that by the time everyone catches up with you, you’re bored.” -
    Fran Lebowitz

  5. Patti Winker , July 26, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.

    Oh for heavens sake! This is EXACTLY what I wrote about some time ago in my blog post : http://remarkablewrinklies.com/2011/aging-baby-boomers-are-all-alike-true-or-false/

    Baby Boomers are NOT 40 years OLD! The post World War II population explosion wound down by 1964. A child born in 1971 was NOT the result of men and women celebrating the end of the war and rebuilding the nation! REAL baby boomers themselves were having children in 1971!

    Marketing to Baby Boomers and marketing to 40 year olds today are two completely separate things. I am disappointed in any publication that ties the two up together for the sake of sales. Trust me... you more than tick off a REAL boomer when you include a 40 year old in the discussion. You lose the sale.

    We REAL boomers are insulted that you have brushed us off and feel we're not worth our own demographic. Shame on you.

  6. Stephen Reily from IMC/Vibrant Nation , August 22, 2011 at 11:08 p.m.

    Thanks for the great comments. Those of you who agreed that HuffPo had this wrong will be glad to hear that they have renamed this new site: "Huff/Post 50":
    http://bit.ly/p9Omu3

  7. Deborah Cecatiello from Q-town Consulting , December 5, 2011 at 8 a.m.
    Where do I begin with this one? If you're hiring in media/advertising/marketing, then "40" is still old in the eyes of 20/30 something hiring managers. So in these agencies, lumping 40 and 50 year olds together seems logical to them and these are the people that are putting out advertising messages, influencing marketers, etc. Are they basing those decisions on real analytical data that supposedly everybody uses these days to make marketing decisions or just that they don't identify with that group. I can tell in the first five minutes of a job interview if my age has cost me the job. So, I would not be surprised if the 40/50 year old age group is becoming the largest long-term unemployed group who is losing wealth every minute. As our numbers grow and job opportunities shrink, there may be some validity in not targeting this group. Targeting wealthy people over 40 or over 50 is a niche market. This article gives the impression that all people over 50 are just living it up with lots of discretionary income. That's not true. First, as a marketer, I would not lump 40 and 50 year olds, so it really puts Huf Post at a disadvantage....do you write real, useful, honest and compelling stories for the appropriate audience and risk losing advertisers, or do you pander to the advertisers and give in? Stop the discrimination in hiring, look at each target market honestly and maybe the issues facing the Huf Post would go away.