The Changing Face Of The Boomer Market

We all have a tendency to lump customers into very broad segments—families, Millennials, honeymooners, singles and more—and we too often find ourselves talking to each of them as if they are one homogeneous group. The reality, of course, is that within each of these groups there is considerable variation and, with it, opportunities to refine our marketing tactics and messages to more effectively reach very distinct sub-segments of these audiences.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than a recent study done by Iconoculture that examined Boomers, a huge and vitally important audience for many brands in travel.

The study estimates that there are 70.9 million consumers aged 50–74 in the U.S. in 2013 and that these Boomers outspend all other generations by over $400 billion every year on goods and services. They have weathered the recession and are starting to come to terms with health issues and impacted resources, while still remaining optimistic and believing that age is just an attitude. 



They are living longer and defying age stereotypes that they don’t see applying to themselves. After all, they are a generation that grew up thinking of themselves as individuals and possessing considerable personal power. They were weaned on a heavy dose of TV that has filled them with youthful and beautiful images that continue to fuel their psyche.

Yet behind these overarching traits, Iconoculture has identified a variety of distinct Boomer segments. Travel brands would be wise to consider and contemplate how communications strategies and product offerings can better engage and resonate with the mindset of these consumers. Here are the top four profiles they identified:

Bachelor Boomers: Nearly 17% of all consumers age 50+ are single guys who are flying solo and, surprisingly, 43% were never married. It’s become a massive audience, and almost half of them are parents or stepparents. They tend to live in more urban locations than other Boomers and have a social lifestyle that still attracts them to bars, movie theaters and outdoor spots like beaches and parks. They’ve embraced being single and marketing messages don’t need to shy away from that independence and the confidence and self esteem that they exude. They’ve learned a lot about life and they are comfortable living a lifestyle that looks different than once-held stereotypes of what is “ideal.”

Happy Enders: Iconoculturemeasured this sub-segment as only 15% of the audience, yet they remain the Boomer stereotype that we marketers often think of when targeting this age group. They have the discretionary income to live a full and active life that every Boomer aspires to. And, many have teen and tween children living at home, which motivates these Boomers to keep working and striving for success. In fact, 88% of this audience has children or stepchildren. 

The Happy Enders view a good time as anything that helps them keep learning and engaging in activities that enrich their minds, bodies and spirit. Not surprisingly, this group also has the highest income and greatest ability to live off their savings. They’re the ones that most frequently dine out, attend cultural events and travel. To that point, they’re the Boomer segment that is most likely to spend on a major vacation in the next year. 

Iconoculturepointed to Ritz-Carlton’s “Art of the Craft” campaign as one that seemed to specifically target this Boomer segment. By highlighting the lifelong passion and mindfulness of hotel staff, the campaign underscores the craft of fine hospitality. It’s a set of values that resonates with this Boomer segment, which places a high value on work, success and results in very personal and individual ways.

New Balancers: Comprising 52% of the audience, this group has held tight to the Boomer dream of living a full and active life which, unfortunately, has not turned out exactly as planned. It’s forcing them to readjust and rebalance their expectations as they confront financial and life realities. They seek a rational approach to planning for the near term and future, and while they look to relax and enjoy life, they are mindful of not overspending or running up debt.

They remain optimistic and nimble, and they’re very focused on family, home and rebuilding their retirement nest egg. To be expected, they are a bit less inclined to seek out cultural pursuits or travel that requires a lot of planning. It is best for travel brands to focus on messages that make travel easy, deliver plenty of value and keep this audience connected to family and friends.

Invisible Woman:  Comprised of 14% of the Boomer audience, this growing sub-segment of mostly single (61%) women feel largely ignored by society, marketers and culture. They are caretakers and often put the needs of others ahead of their own—but would like someone to acknowledge them and their needs and desires as well. These women are strong, but often feel overwhelmed and vulnerable. Among their key values are security, honesty and compassion, and they’d welcome acknowledgement of their identity and giving nature.

Insight that helps us better understand not just what an audience does but how they feel gives us the chance to speak to consumers in ways that are more personal, relevant and meaningful.

Boomers clearly come in all different flavors.

Make sure your marketing to them does as well.

1 comment about "The Changing Face Of The Boomer Market".
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  1. Ruth Barrett from, November 4, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.

    To this statement I would add environmentally and socially responsible. It can't be travel as usual.
    "It is best for travel brands to focus on messages that make travel easy, deliver plenty of value and keep this audience connected to family and friends."

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