Wading into the ceaseless debate regarding whether advertisers are too focused on younger consumers, Nielsen has joined the chorus questioning why there is not more emphasis on reaching the swelled baby boomer segment.
The measurement company says that by overly focusing on demos such as 18-to-34 and 18- to-49 year-olds, "advertisers and consumer goods manufacturers are overlooking a group that has tremendous buying power." There are an estimated 78 million boomers, where the oldest are about 64 and the youngest around 46, meaning they are about to age out of the advertiser-coveted demos.
Nielsen says ad dollars spent looking to reach the 35-to-64 demo are estimated at less than 5% of the overall pie.
Yet not only do some boomers have significant disposable income, but there is a hunger to embrace technology. To be sure, younger consumers spend time in Wi-Fi-enabled locales, but Nielsen says boomers are more likely to have broadband connections at home.
They also make up a third of tweeters and social media users, while they turn to DVRs to time-shift TV more than 18- to-24-year-olds.
Looking at the top-10 most-trafficked Web sites for boomers and, separately, for 18- to-34-year-olds, eight are the same, including Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia.
For the non-overlaps, the boomers' top 10 includes Ask.com and Amazon.com, while 18- to-34-year-olds use Fox Interactive Media sites heavily (which include MySpace) and Apple.com, likely looking for iTunes.
Even as ad dollars perhaps stray from them, Nielsen says boomers account for 39% of dollars spent on consumer packaged goods -- and they spend more in 1,023 of the 1,083 categories in the segment.
Nielsen executive Pat McDonough states that boomers should be as "desirable" for marketers as millennials and Generation X: "As the U.S. continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers."