Next month, I'm joining several hundred fellow Boomers who are trying to qualify for the Reebok Crossfit games as a Master (45+). Crossfit, a mix of functional fitness, kettle bells, rowing, running,
Olympic lifting, and gymnastics, is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity. It is not for the faint of heart or spirit and not
the type of sport activity you would associate with men and women over 45. But, the Masters division is booming as are similar competitions for older participants in track, swimming, and
weightlifting. More and more Boomers are staying active with "extreme" sports and activities like snowboarding, mixed martial arts and mountain biking.
Sports marketers generally target the 18-34
demographic, but need to rethink their priorities. After all, there is a burgeoning and oft-neglected market of Boomers who are just as active as Gen Xers and Yers ... and who have a lot more
disposable income. A generation ago, it was assumed that people over 45 would hit the country club circuit for golf, tennis, and cards at the clubhouse. In contrast, my favorite Crossfit workout is
a mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats followed by another mile run. Eighteen holes and a game of canasta it is not.
There are several reasons why Boomers are
mixing it up in competitive sports today (and why sports marketers should be targeting them):
- Better nutrition and sports medicine have kept us on the field longer. Tremendous advances
in treating and rehabbing sports injuries have lengthened the time Boomers can stay active.
- Boomers grew up in a competitive environment and are up to the challenge when it comes to
competing with Gen Xers who want their jobs. In other words, staying fit and youthful is not just recreation, but a career necessity in challenging economic times.
- Boomers invented
the youth culture and they're not ready to give up the aura of youth and coolness. Boomers don't want to think of themselves as old. Getting an AARP card is not a point of pride, but getting a new
personal best in your chosen sport is something to brag about -- on Facebook.
- The web and social media have made it easier to spread the word, get inspired, and be part of a
community to stay connected. Crossfit affiliates span Wordpress sites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, making it a virtual and opensource fitness movement that's growing just as fast as the
social web. In fact, it has gained the attention of Reebok, which recently signed a 10-year deal to sponsor the games and open affiliates.
To capitalize on this trend, marketers need
to develop unique campaigns that target Boomer athletes. Content marketing expertise is crucial since Boomers have unique information needs. In other words, using the same celebs and "extreme"
imagery/messaging that appeal to Gen Y is not going to resonate with this audience.
The media choices are also different, as are the ways this audience prefers to consume its information.
An older audience is more likely to open both traditional and new media, and case studies, testimonials, and inspirations from their peers are often very effective content delivery formats.
The trend of the competitive Boomer athlete presents a real opportunity to footwear/apparel and equipment manufacturers. There is a unique market out there, just make sure you speak to them directly
and speak to their needs.