Boomers are younger than ever before. Yes, they are aging like everyone else, but are channeling their young spirit in a new way. From the beauty products they purchase to the lifestyles they lead, this group of 78 million is embracing their inner youngster and is looking to get the most out of life. They evaluate their age based on where they are in life, as opposed to the date on their birth certificate or number of wrinkles on their forehead, and are on a quest to look and live younger. As marketers look to engage and relate to Boomers in new ways, it’s important to understand how their attitudes and behaviors have changed.
Boomers want to look young
With progresses in technology and health, Baby Boomers don’t have to suffer through the “ugly” effects of aging as their parents did. Global Industry Analysts predict that the U.S. market for anti-aging products will be $114 billion in 2015. This is not reserved to the products sold on shelves, as “people 40 and up (many of whom are Boomers) comprised 55% of all surgical cosmetic procedures, like facelifts and tummy tucks, and 74% of all cosmetic ‘minimally invasive’ procedures like cellulite treatments, Botox and laser hair removal, in 2010” (Iconoculture). Afraid of needles? There are many “faux-tox” alternatives. Revance is a gel that reduces the appearance of crow’s feet without creating an emotionless statue. And women aren’t the only ones seeking alternative solutions. Surprisingly, Boomer men are one of the fastest-growing segments seeking cosmetic procedures. Testosterone is the go-to drug of choice for Boomer men seeking the fountain of youth (Iconoculture).
Looking young doesn’t just mean surgery and creams, Boomer mothers also want to dress fashionably without mirroring their 20-something daughters’ wardrobes. In response to her Boomer mother’s complaint that styles were “too flashy and a bit too forward,” Millennial Halsey Meyer Schroeder developed an upscale e-boutique, Halsbrook, which offers clothing that is both timeless and compelling. Like women of all ages, Boomer women believe their fashion choices are just one of the ways they can express themselves, but they don’t want to evaluate these clothes on young women’s bodies who have not endured the effects of time and age. As a result, the market for Boomer models is growing to new heights. As Boomer women represent $47 billion of the fashion market, having age-relevant models allows them to make better fashion decisions.
Boomers want to live young
Not only is this generation concerned with looking younger, but they are also making a valiant effort to live younger. Boomers are proving that “it isn’t about the years in your life, it’s about the life in your years,” and are constantly looking for ways to keep their minds and bodies active.
One way Boomers are staying young is by returning to college. In fact, the number of Boomers returning to college has grown nearly 20% over the past decade, to a record-breaking two million (Fox Business). Some are returning to pave the path for a new career, some to launch a business of their own, and some are returning for the fun of learning and to keep their mind sharp. Community colleges are even tapping into this growing behavior with their “50 plus initiative,” an accelerated college program designed to match older workers’ experience and interests with training opportunities in fields like tax preparation, volunteer opportunities, and service activities.
Many are also keeping their minds young by embracing non-retirement. While there is no doubt that money is a driving force for many, others are happy to be in the workforce. According to a 2012 AARP survey, more than a third of Boomers are still in the workforce, and of that group, 35% returned to work after retiring from a previous career. We’re also seeing a growing number of Boomers taking the plunge into a completely new adventure—starting their own business. While we typically associate start-ups with a young 20-something in Silicon Valley, Boomers are actually outpacing their younger counterparts in new business start-ups and are driving the entrepreneurial boom (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation). Not surprisingly, a large number of Boomers are taking advantage of retirement or taking a leap of faith into a new business based on a personal hobby. After a successful career at 3M, one Boomer in Traverse City, Mich., created a successful oil and vinegar tasting shop that has become a multimillion-dollar business.
What this means for marketers
Boomers aren’t ready to sit idly on the sidelines. Don’t talk to them like they are old, or tell them “50 is the new 30.” Fifty is the new 50. Boomers believe age is what you make of it and will continue to roll up their sleeves and dig into life. Both resilient and optimistic, this generation is forward-thinking, and ironically, the best way for brands and marketers to build a future relationship with them is to connect with them in the present moment. Brands need to understand this new mindset among Boomers, and engage and offer real-time rewards that fuel their search for the fountain of youth.