50 Is No Longer 50: What It Means For Marketers

While many marketers are apt to lump all Boomers into one bucket, there is a large enough age variance in the demographic so that Boomers fall into two distinct groups. There’s the older Boomer, who is marching into retirement, and there’s the Boomer at the younger end of the generation, who’s now hitting his or her peak buying power. Younger Boomers (roughly ages 48-58) really don’t have as much in common with the older portion of the cohort as commonly believed. While their older brothers and sisters transition to retirement, the 48-58 year olds are in positions of leadership and in their top earning years. The most significant difference, however, is their mindset. Younger Boomers will forever redefine what it means to be 50.  

It may be trite to say “50 is the new 30”, but it’s also true. Younger Boomers don’t want to hear about AARP cards or other products traditionally aimed at the demographic. A cursory review of my friends in this age group (on Facebook, of course) does not turn up people sifting through retirement home options. They feel and act the same as they did 20 years ago, albeit with a few more miles on their bodies, which they take very good care of with diet and exercise.

The younger group does not self identify as a Baby Boomer; culturally, they have more in common with Gen X, in terms of attitude and sensibility. They are also a long way from retirement and slowing down. It is a time in life when people become more reflective and take the time to broaden their interests and try new things such as a second career or giving back to the community. They’re looking inward and thinking about the second half of their lives. 

This mindset makes them a vital target for a host of marketers who need to think a bit differently about how to reach them. It is time to consign the old demographic targeting to the dustbin of marketing history. In this age of media, you need more nuances when looking for your customers. Plugging Male, 45-54, HH+ 75+ into a spreadsheet is yesterday’s news. 

Today, the consumer is in control and has an unlimited number of choices when it comes to getting information, content, and entertainment. The commonalities between people of the same age and gender are few, which is due in large part to the diverse array of products and activities available to them at any given time. This is not to say that the people of today are more complex; it’s more so that they’ve had the luxury of developing their interests more acutely. So, whereas a person’s sense of self used to be more prominently defined by things like gender and age, people now are far more apt to define themselves by their interests, passions and hobbies. And this is great thing for advertisers and marketers.

Targeting younger Boomers based on their interests allows advertisers to make far more accurate blanket statements about their buyer personas. Behavioral targeting and content marketing, for instance, can be combined to reach customers who have shown a real interest in your category and product. Targeting customers with content that maps to their interest can also build long-term relationships rather than just an impersonal transaction. At a time when consumers are looking to be engaged in conversation, wouldn’t it be better to treat them like a person rather than a number?

This can have real implications for companies such as consumer electronics, sports and fitness and apparel/footwear to name a few. These marketers should create integrated campaigns with younger Boomers in mind for products not often associated with people 48-58. They are heavy users of social and mobile platforms so they should be surrounded with content and stories about what your brand can do for them. Content and interests are self-selecting so put it out there and they will find you. Just remember, don’t treat them like they are ready for the rocking chair; they’re active just like Gen Y—but they’ve got two to three times the amount of disposable income.

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5 comments about "50 Is No Longer 50: What It Means For Marketers ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 12, 2012 at 10:24 a.m.
    And on the upper end of the 48-58 are dealing with their parents some of whom are in their 80's and facing car loss, doctor appointments with a host of meds, those who are running out of money and mind. They have to make sure their parents finances and health are in order plus make decisions for what happens before old age takes its toll.
  2. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities , October 12, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.
    BRAVO! as simple as that...........yes, INTEGRATED...that fits......"60 is the new sexy"........I am surely not there, but that is what I see ahead............
  3. Audrey Van petegem from The Succulent Wife , October 12, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.
    We have been saying this for a long time. Check out the meme we created just for this purpose! http://boomboxnetwork.com/2012/03/what-people-think-about-baby-boomers/
  4. Jen Mcgahan from MyTeamConnects , October 15, 2012 at 10:01 a.m.
    Gordon, I like this. Worth getting to know the segment of your market with discretionary income! I can personally see 50 from here and it's looking pretty good. : )
  5. Gordon Plutsky from Digital Bungalow , October 17, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
    Thanks for all the great comments, really appreciate it. I can also see 50 from here, and it does looks pretty good.