Commentary

Wake Up, Marketers: Boomer Women Have Money to Spend

Invisible. Misrepresented. Oversimplified. That’s how a majority of 40 million Baby Boomer women feel when it comes to advertising. This vibrant generation no longer fits the stereotypical mold of elderly or infirm, so why do marketers treat them as such?

For years now, marketers have realized the power of women as consumers, but many of them are directing their attention, sometimes exclusively, to two key subsets: Millennials and moms. The industry continues to obsess over how these particular women behave, the items they purchase, and ultimately, the ways in which they’re willing to engage with brands.

But when it comes down to it, Boomers have more time than moms, more money than Millennials and perhaps more reasons to buy than many others. Marketers are neglecting to act upon this, missing the opportunity to connect with the richest, most influential consumer demographic today and for the foreseeable future, Boomer women.

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Women in the U.S. ages 50 and older have a combined net worth of $19 trillion and are poised to own more than three-quarters of the nation’s financial wealth. Add to that the fact that women make 85% of purchase decisions, and it’s pretty clear how big of an impact this group could have for companies of all kinds.

The Boomer generation as a whole is responsible for nearly 50% of CPG sales and dominates 119 CPG categories including apparel, entertainment and food, but nonetheless, Nielsen projects that less than 5% of advertising dollars are targeted toward them. In comparison, more than one-third of those dollars are used to reach Millennials who, in fact, have a lot less cash. Whether they’re fearful of a small return on investment or simply being associated with “old folks,” it’s a shame to see so many brands turn a blind eye to such a lucrative market.

A Changing Generation

For brands that do target Boomers, or even those with a product that may be of interest to them, it’s imperative that they take a step back and reevaluate the needs and desires of this generation. An astounding 91% of Boomer women feel advertisers don’t understand them or accurately portray their lifestyle. They loathe being depicted as old and incapable.

They’re tired of being shown as half of a couple instead of individuals. They want to be featured in more than just pharmaceutical and retirement ads. Boomer women aren’t ready to be stored away in the attic. They’re letting their youth shine, more so now than ever, by engaging in physical activity, attending social events and purchasing new electronics.

Creating a Connection

When it comes to advertising, she doesn’t ask for a whole lot. Popular celebrities, extravagant experiences and rock-bottom deals aren’t what typically persuade her to spend. Boomer women just want brands to be authentic and explicitly state how their product or service relates to her lifestyle. To achieve that, content must adhere to a few critical best practices.

Don’t make her feel old. It’s important to illustrate her life stage but avoid specifically addressing her age. She’s not fond of words like mature, senior and elderly or stereotypical imagery that makes her feel old. On the flip side, she can’t always relate to ads that feature young adults. Depicting her as a well-established woman who still has a zest for life will reinforce wisdom without criticizing her. 

Recognize her independence. Many Boomers are making the shift from “mom” to “me” and rediscovering themselves as empty nesters, retirees or divorcees. They’re ready to start checking things off their bucket list and fulfilling goals that got put on the back burner. Marketers need to prove their understanding of such optimism and help these women dream even bigger. They should target her with aspirational ideas, encourage her to try something new or evoke nostalgia that will draw out a long-lost passion. 

Play up her peers. This demographic is partial to authentic storylines that portray real women, real situations and real challenges. Their purchase decisions are often based on opinions from women who’ve walked in their shoes. They need to feel confident that a product or service is a good fit for them given their age and needs. To address this, marketers should strive to use spokespeople, occasions and environments that create empathy rather than envy. Explicitly communicate similarities that will capture attention and resonate with her.

The bottom line

It’s time to stop looking at Boomers as passive, elderly figures and realize their true power. These women are breaking through barriers and redefining what it means to be old, and they expect brands to do the same.

3 comments about "Wake Up, Marketers: Boomer Women Have Money to Spend".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, February 12, 2018 at 3:05 p.m.

    The author makes a number of very good observations. It appears most marketing execs are not very analytical, objective, or well informed when it comes to understanding the potential business represented by various market segements.

  2. R. M. from self, February 12, 2018 at 5:19 p.m.

    2 comments... both focus on age, age, age & ageism in target marketing.
    1) I disagree with "Many Boomers are making the shift from Mom to Me"... as the youngest Boomer is about 54 I certainly hope they let go of their 30 yr old "children" years ago. In their 50's & 60s their lifestage should be closer to shift to Grandparent. Boomers begat Xers not Mills. If Boomers are now helicoptering their 30 & 40 yr old "children", that is sad... but should not be as article points out Boomers want their own independant lives.

    2) Boomers vs Millenials (which by the way is an entire generatonal skip) is still A-G-E targeting. Who on the marketing planet should be age targeting (excluding age gate products such as booze, driving, movies, legal & medical).
    There are many too many targeting tactics for behavior, mindset, values, usage, that are more effective than targeting an age. Targeting a biological age should be the minority of marketing, not this decade long obsession that has been.  Who uses your product now & will use in future, are your targets.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 12, 2018 at 8:41 p.m.

    Wake up ! See how many boomer women do not have a partner nor do they want one including those who are divorced. 

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