Meet the Boomers

As a follow up on a recent Research Brief about Millenials, here's an appropriate analysis of the Boomers, an earlief generation, according to Dr. Bob Deutsch of marketing firm Brain Sells. The Baby Boom generation is classified as people born between 1946 and 1964, meaning the oldest Baby Boomers turn 65 in 2011. Boomers are still vital and evolving even as they approach retirement age, concludes the report.

In the US alone, more than 3.5 million babies were born in 1946. Our conception of Seniors, what Boomers soon will be, is highly stereotyped, says the report. Baby Boomers can be labeled Pragmatic Idealists.  As a demographic they are a glass-half-full group.  They feel they can make things the way they want them to be, or at least engage with the forces at work to tilt the odds 51% in their favor.   Even in our constrained economy, Baby Boomers still seek, and assume, growth, all the while acknowledging new limitations in resources.

Deutsch says understanding the following three basic life structures is critical to capturing the Boomer market:

  • The developmental history of Boomers casts them as characters that possess a self-expansive nature primarily devoid of cynicism. The Baby Boom generation embodies a vitality that makes them survivors, even if they can't always be thrivers.
  • As Boomers age, home range will become more important, and getting settled in new spaces, such as a smaller, closer-to-town abode or a move to a warmer climate, will require adaptation to new interpersonal and larger social arrangements. In addition, Boomers will develop requirements for new types of mundane services, particularly in the domains of finance, healthcare, and personal care.
  • As people age their nostalgic yearnings grow, says Deutsch, making them more receptive to advertisers and marketers use of what researchers call a "longing for positive memories of the past." Moreover, nostalgia can make Boomers feel that not so much time has passed between then and now, making them feel young again. Nostalgia should be considered as one marketing aesthetic to attract Boomers.

According to thereport,  In interviews Boomers say things like:

  • "We now have more responsibility... "
  • "Anger, in the long run, just hurts you."
  • "Maybe ‘now' is an opportunity... to re-evaluate who you are and where you are going."

In sharp contrast, Gen-Xer's are losing hope in the ties that bind hard work to success, says Deutsch.  They see their future as "closing."  This mentality foreshortens their vision of themselves, others, and the world.  Their orientation, about almost everything, is defensive:

  • "Money makes the world go around. Now I have less money. Now I have less hope." "I feel better when I see someone worse off than me."
  • "I gotta fight for everything, and I don't have a lot."
  • "What's the point?"

Key Boomer attitudes and perceptions that are important for marketers, says Deutsch:

  • Boomers are at a time in life when they really don't want to compromise their authenticity.
  • For Boomers, process is at least as important as the end result. They want "the ride"
  • Boomers like to inspire others. Help them feel helpful
  • Boomers have been around long enough to know there are few absolutes, little is black or white
  • Accentuate personal style over rote action or blind ritual
  • Boomers are oriented to the human dimension, that's the only real thing. They can see the humor in most situations
  • What Boomers really dislike is felling put upon by arbitrary power, feeling trapped, conned, boxed-in, and being thought of as one of the masses
  • Boomers are both creative and conservative ("A beautiful garden is wild and tended")
  • Boomers go for what gives voice to things they are thinking and feeling, but haven't fully worked out yet
  • Boomers respond to what stands out by its presence, not its loudness. What shows them it really listens and, therefore, understands

And, according to in its recent list of Top 10 Consumer Trends for 2010 reported by Marketing Charts, several general societal trends closely match with Boomer trends. These include a need for companies to be transparent and honest about their efforts to conduct environmentally sustainable business practices and genuinely collaborate with their customers rather than try to dictate to them. In addition, consumers are increasingly using social networks as part of everyday life and respond well to products and services which have a charitable component.

For additional information, please visit VisibilityPR here, or Marketing Charts here.


5 comments about "Meet the Boomers".
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  1. Isaac Segal from The Star Group, March 8, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.

    Can you spell "millennial"?

  2. Karen Sadler from Age Conversation, March 8, 2010 at 11:10 a.m.

    Some great insights in this article! As Bob Deutsch states, Boomer needs for aging services is just around the corner but they will not accept less services, rather they want choices. The word "retirement" and the age of 65 connected with it was created in the early part of the 20th century when our life expectancy was in our 60's. The 21st century is a multi-generational world. Today with life expectancy in our 80's and 4 in 10 of us projected to live to 120, Boomers will again be leading the way to creating a new paradigm for this part of life. At age 65, some people still have the potential to live another 40 or 50 there anyone who wants to "do nothing" for 40 or 50 years?

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 8, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.

    A major division within this group rather than age is financial dynamics. There is a rift of the haves even if they don't have as much as before the meltdown and the have nots to have nothings. Again, there is the group which travels and revel in their relationship with their grandchildren and there is the group who lost their jobs, health care and little hope that an employer is going to retrain a 60 year old without 21st century skills who will, for starters, increase their insurance rates.

  4. Barb Geldersma, March 8, 2010 at 1:09 p.m.

    Finally, an article that expresses the essence of many, many Boomers. Are there challenges ahead-sure. Is affordable health a BIG concern- yep! Sagging 401K's and lack of viable pension plans- check. BUT, we've had fierce competition all our lives due to our large numbers and lack of capacity at schools, universities, vocational programs and jobs. Many of us are educated, creative, driven to live the lives we want to live and know how to create change to make that happen. As we've shown our entire lives we are not our parents generation. Companies that want to survive will come understand that Boomers have more money and more time to spend that many than any generation before or after us.

  5. James Gilmartin from Coming of Age, Incorporated, March 14, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.

    One of the best brief analysis of the boomer cohort I've seen. The issue for marketers is understanding better how to connect with these populations. It's not just a matter of marketers understanding what boomers are currently facing in todays world but how they see the world around them in terms of values and motivators. Bob Deutsch's list of attitudes and perceptions are worth paying attention to if you want to connect with these not so homogenous group.

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