my turn


Boomers: The Middle Frontier

A new boomer marketing era is here, and it's disrupting our conception of what it means to talk to the "me" generation. That's because today's boomers aren't defined by generation.

We've historically assumed that identity is formed in youth, so we think that if you understand the youth experience, you understand the adult. That's not true anymore. Today's boomers are dramatically more affected by today's events that by past events. What happened at Woodstock simply has limited relevance to what they are facing today.

Marketers tend to make two mistakes in targeting boomers. They either treat them like they are aged versions of their youth, or lump them in as "seniors" with everyone over 45 or 50, failing to understand that midlife is a distinct life stage, unlike youth or old age, with its own rites of passage and turning points.

Today, boomers are defined by a common life stage -- midlife -- that occupies an expanded period from their 40s to late 60s. Their experience of midlife is new because they can expect to live up to 20 years longer than past generations. Most look and act younger than their parents at this age. Think of Tom Cruise, Katie Couric and Oprah, all midlife boomers. Rather than preparing to check out, they are moving on to a second life. If they are lucky, they will reach a life-peak their parents could only have dreamed of and that younger people envy.



They'll also face unprecedented struggles that will keep them out of the rocking chair anytime soon. As they have with all life stages, boomers are pioneering this period. They have no roadmap, no examples to follow. They are looking for help.

An example is that of finding your "true north" -- your purpose and passion in life. StrawberryFrog research has shown that between the ages of 45 and 64, boomers go from saying they want to find their passion to actually feeling they've found it. Midlife-targeted products such as nut snacks that we helped a major food company develop are specifically designed to fuel boomers during this turning point.

In summary, there's a new and better approach to boomer marketing, and it's not generational. It is all about products and branding that are hyper-relevant to their new life stage.

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, contact Nina Lentini.

6 comments about "Boomers: The Middle Frontier ".
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  1. Bruce Christensen from PartyWeDo, February 23, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

    My life at 55 is rich and full. I want to stay connected to my past, but I look forward to adding many great memories in the future.
    My "true north" is still focused on my family, but the circle has now expanded to include in-laws and grandchildren.

    With our children moving away to find opportunity, there is an adjustment needed to compensate for the tyranny of distance. But using the new internet tools we are adapting to various ways in bridging the distance and staying connected.

  2. Mike Anderson from CSS, February 23, 2009 at 11:04 a.m.

    When it comes to "seeking" their passion, versus feeling they've "found" it, I wonder whether that means boomers finally have the things that make them happy, or if they've finally decided to be happy with the things they already have.

    Perhaps this shift can be attributed to the notion that boomers are not exactly booming anymore, and they've discovered that living without frantic spending isn't the end of life... only life as we knew it.

    - A boomer (59').

  3. Jon Currie from Currie Communications, Inc., February 23, 2009 at 12:13 p.m.

    I am a "boomer" that actually hates that term. Don't call me that for the sake of marketing. There is so little that my generation has in common in general much less with past generations of folks over 50s. I just lost my wife of 30+ years. I am not old enough to retire, don't want to and have to totally reinvent myself. I refuse ot be pigeon-holed.

  4. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, February 23, 2009 at 1:13 p.m.

    The whole notion of "boomerdom" has to me always been a lazy way to segment the population. I mean, how much does a 44 year old really have in common with a 62 year old? It makes a lot more sense to me to segment this population behaviorally rather than demographically. Sure, there are commonalities this group will share, but they are not exclusive to boomers. Serious research folk would be better able to serve their clients if they chose to leave all the "boomer" talk to the media-lite crowd and the cocktail party circuit.

  5. Pam Ellis from Valpak Direct Marketing, February 25, 2009 at 1:07 a.m.

    In our early 50's, w/ a 26 yr. old daughter getting her LPN and getting married in a few months , along with my son,17 graduating from "crappy" HS and going on to college...WE FEEL "EXHAUSTED", not down -n- out,
    just EXHAUSTED!
    When this BIG FINANCIAL DEAL is over (4 years?)

    Will my husband and I (both in good , healthy .IN LOVE &
    financial standing right now...w/ great Retirement Investments ...), have a really "good
    after the kids are gone" , LIFE ?

    We're living "Bare bones" now!
    K Ser Rah, Ser Rah. :)))))

  6. Celine Horan, March 2, 2009 at 8:48 a.m.

    I for one don't really care, one way or the other, at being classified a boomer. As long as a sales letter or marketing campaign resinates with me on a deeper level; I'm more inclined to buy it. Finding my 'true north'? You hit the nose on the head.

    A happy and very young looking 45 year old.

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