When Boomers Retire, Some Marketers Win, And Others Lose

What’s the biggest life change for Boomers? For many, it isn’t turning 65. It’s retiring—at whatever age that happens. 

For George and Linda Paxton of Livermore, Calif., retirement came when George was 62, and he received a generous retirement package from his job of 30 years. 

Even though retirement was a welcomed event for which Linda and George felt prepared, their adjustment has been, in many ways, more challenging than they expected. And their experience isn’t unique. On the Stressful Life Events scale developed by Holmes and Rahe, retirement ranks 10 out of 42. 

One big adjustment the Paxtons have had to make is financial. George worked for the same company for years, and as long as he stayed in the workforce, he and his wife knew they could count on that regular paycheck coming in. But the moment he retired, the couple’s mindset changed dramatically. They know that if they spend the money they have now, they’re not going to earn more. Their need to look for value in products has risen substantially. That’s why new retirees like the Paxtons are great candidates for online and paper coupons, discounts, and restaurant specials.



Another adjustment the couple has had to make relates to time. One night they were attending a farewell party, and the next morning they were retired, savoring that first leisurely morning without an alarm clock. The free time stretched before them—but now that they had it, the couple had trouble deciding what to do with it. 

For the first few days, they walked around in a daze, not really getting anything done. “We thought, ‘We don’t have to do that right now because we’re retired. We have plenty of time,’” Linda said. “That was going on with everything.” 

“Two weeks later, we woke up and realized, ‘Nobody is doing any chores around here,’” she said. “The dog needed to be walked ... the plants needed watering … we were missing appointments.”

The Paxtons’ large blocks of unstructured free time also made them vulnerable to overspending on meals out, movies, and other splurges. So, they made a conscious decision to add some structure to their lives. “We make a list every morning of what we needed to do that day,” Linda said.

Since settling into a schedule, she and George have found that taking control of their time helps them stay in control of their finances. Still, the increased time they have available for both chores and leisure activities influences their spending. Here are some categories in which spending habits might change in new retirees like the Paxtons:

1.Food. With more time to spend on meal preparation, many retirees spend less on takeout and fast food and more on quality cooking ingredients. Grocery stores and gourmet markets can benefit. 

2. Travel. Now that they have 52 weeks free for trips, many retirees take advantage of last-minute budget travel deals. When a bargain arrives in their inbox, they can take off at the drop of a hat. 

3.Gas. Commuting costs drop to zero, but the tank gets filled more often for travel.

4. Physical fitness. Retirees have the time—and motivation—to keep their bodies running well. Gyms and sporting goods retailers can benefit from their dedication. 

5.Hobby supplies. The extra time retirees have to spend on their interests can help a variety of businesses, from craft stores to tech retailers. 

6.DIY. Retirees are more likely to do their own home repairs and yard work than their working counterparts. This is good news for home improvement stores and nurseries.

7. Pets. With more time for pet care, retirees are inclined to expand their families. Pet food retailers, dog trainers, pet-friendly hotels, kennels, and dog walkers can all find opportunities here.

As soon as Boomers retire, their spending habits are impacted by a decrease in funds and an increase in free time. Some marketing opportunities diminish, while others blossom. The one thing new retirees won’t likely be shopping for? An alarm clock.

2 comments about "When Boomers Retire, Some Marketers Win, And Others Lose".
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  1. Nancy Padberg from Navigate Boomer Media, October 27, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.

    Excellent article Derek, Thank you. A couple stats worth noting, Boomers over age 50 purchase 80% of all luxury travel and 62% of all new cars. A digital media firm I am on the board of, Navigate Boomer Media, uses programmatic advertising and native content to reach this audience who holds 70% of US disposable income.

  2. Arthur Koff from, October 27, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

    Volunteering was not mentioned in this article and it has a major place in the schedule of retirees. Not only does volunteering provide a stimulating and "feel good" activity but studies have shown that retirees live longer, healthier lives when they volunteer and stay mentally active.

    For a list of charities and non-profits that are looking for volunteers and for volunteering information go to

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