We Knew Boomers Are Into Sex--But Brand Switching?

Boomers are still among the consumer groups most prone to being mythologized by marketers. And one of the most enduring conventional wisdoms is that the 50+ crowd is so brand-loyal and averse to change that it's not worth the investment to try to win them over to a new brand.

Dead wrong, according to several speakers at the "Focalyst Executive Forum: Innovations and Insights in Reaching Boomers and Older Consumers," a joint venture of AARP Services, Inc. (the organization's for-profit arm for introducing senior-friendly services and products) and Kantar, the research, insight and consultancy arm of WPP.

The latest data from AARP's own extensive, ongoing research shows that 68 percent of boomers--and nearly 60 percent of their parents (aka the "Golden Generation")--say that they research various brands before making a purchase, pointed out Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of AARP Services, during the first day of the New York-based conference.

"Some highly placed businesspeople still believe that older Americans aren't very open to change. That is absolutely a myth, and for businesses, it's a costly myth," she stressed. "Boomers and their parents are at least as likely to switch brands and experiment with new products as teenagers and younger adults."



That reality is also backed by "The Focalyst View," a just-completed study billing itself as the most comprehensive ever conducted on the 42+ population, with over 30,000 nationally representative respondents.

Among the massive results: Across a broad range of product categories, most respondents say that they do not stick with a brand, but instead research their purchases and make case-by-case decisions.

David van Nostrand, Focalyst's senior VP and chief research officer, reported these percentages of respondents who do not stick with a brand: televisions, 74 percent; apparel, 71 percent; appliances, 67 percent; prepared foods, 56 percent; automobiles, 58 percent; and computers, 61 percent.

"Boomers are not set in their ways, and are not wedded to the same brands" they grew up with, echoed Gail Sheehy--author of the groundbreaking book Passages, as well as New Passages (a 1995 update) and the just-released Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life.

As for sex: "Did people really think that we give up the pleasures of touching and being touched for some hobby that utilizes yarn?" quipped Sheehy.

Next story loading loading..