Does 'Boomer' Now Mean 'Old'?
For many years, I’ve been making the point that Boomers aren’t as old as many marketers seem to think they are. The youngest Boomer is just turning 49, after all, and the “average” Boomer (born at the peak of the bubble) is only 55; they are a long way, in fact, from being old.
But in reality, no one seems to care.
Maybe because the media likes to cover all those Boomer “firsts” (like turning 65), it has proven harder than I expected to make people see the Boomer generation as anyone but its oldest members. The scribes and historians of the Boomer generation and Boomer marketing are themselves mostly over 60. Some who write and talk about Boomers are over 70, and are not even Boomers themselves.
Marketers may also have contributed to this impression, by allowing “Boomer” and “Senior” too often to form part of the same sentence. There has always been more money in the Senior marketplace, after all, and I think it’s been hard for marketers and consultants to resist the temptation to connect the two generations, even if it doesn’t make sense to do so.
For these and many other reasons, it seems clear that just about everyone in the U.S. thinks that Boomers are old, and no number of surveys, no amount of hand-wringing and article-writing and foot-stomping, will change that fact.
Is it time to retire “Boomer”?
The people most people think of as Boomers are now becoming Seniors, and Gen X is rapidly entering mid-life. Before we know it, “Boomer” will rapidly lose its meaning. In fact, it may have already done so.
Therefore, and with all due respect to this blog’s host (MediaPost’s Engage:Boomers) I propose that we call our target consumer something else.
What to Call Them
With every passing quarter, it seems, another major company says it wants to start targeting the consumers we write about here. But it also seems like each of these companies calls that target something different. Some call them “50+” while others call them “45+.” Some develop new terms (we’re comfortable calling them “vibrant women”), but nobody’s bright new idea has yet been adopted by others.
My best guess is that we’ll end up with two solutions:
- First, marketers will target the consumers they want to
target without talking too much about age. If they want to reach women with college-aged and adult children, they’ll do so without talking about age. If they want to talk to women about
post-menopausal healthcare, they can do so without mentioning age. And if they want to talk to women about their growing interest in managing their own financial future they can say so, without
talking about irrelevant words like “retirement” or “husband.”
- Second, I think we will settle on a general age to reflect the transition into midlife. Based on what women are saying in our community, 45+ seems a better descriptor than 50+, simply because many women start thinking and talking about the issues of midlife before they turn 50.
I can live with whatever solution works for others – so tell me, and our MediaPost community, what you think.
Is it time to retire “Boomer”? And, if so, what should we put in its place?