It was no secret that they control the largest amount of disposable income, are prone to buying rather than saving, and have a desire for goods that match their personal style. Now, marketers everywhere are designing campaigns and collateral to attract the attention of boomers in hopes of pocketing a little bit of that income for themselves.
However, baby boomers are only one part of the demographic makeup of the United States (and the world) today. Let's start with some key facts that may not be on your radar.
-- The rate of population growth in the United States is the lowest it has been since 1937. There are two major contributing factors to this decline: a lower mortality rate and a lower birth date.
-- Within the United States, the population is migrating west and south, with Utah growing the fastest, while Northeastern states like New York are hemorrhaging residents. A recent article from AZ Central notes that five out of the top 10 U.S. cities that are attracting new residents over the age of 60 are in Arizona.
-- The middle class, at least as it has been traditionally defined, continues to shrink. This has created two major niches within the retail space: utility brands and luxury brands — think Nabisco vs. Pepperidge Farm.
-- Have you heard of "grand families" yet? These are households where a grandparent is acting as the head of the family unit, often because the middle generation can't afford independent housing or is saddled with large amounts of debt. This begs some interesting questions: Do you market diapers to grandparents in a different way than you would to parents?
Boomer marketers still haven't quite hit the high point in the boomer trend, but must also be cognizant of the trends facing the wider world that could impact this segment and will definitely be impacting the segments that are to come.
For instance, the senior living space, we have already noticed a wave of developers building new communities in the American Southwest. These new projects stand in stark contrast to the bastions of senior living — faith-based nonprofits that are located in the North and the East. As young families move west, seniors are following their children, whether to act as free childcare or in an effort to have their own safety net for health care later on in life.
It's a great time to be someone who is focused on the boomer segment; it's a diverse and interesting cohort that I truly love working with. But, as much as we love to rely on demographics, I think it's just as important that we keep the big picture in mind and plan for our future. As the boomer roller coaster reaches its apex, I think we're going to be in for a wild ride on the way down!