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Don’t Call Baby Boomers ‘Seniors’

by Christina Gregoire

We, Baby Boomer women, are all unique souls, so it’s difficult to corral our whole generation into one small box with a single, all-encompassing set of characteristics.

However, all Boomer Chicks can agree on one thing: We hate being called “seniors”.

So, if you are a young, punk marketer, you should delete that evil “S” word from your vocabulary if you want to reach into the deep pockets of Boomers, because when we, Boomer Chicks, hear the word “senior”, we think you are talking to our parents.  Just look at the photo of Christie Brinkley (above).  Christie was born smack dab in the middle of the boom.  C'mon.  Does she look like your grandma?

Baby Boomer Marketingwhat to call baby boomers

We, Boomers, only respond to ads, articles, movies, and programs that mean something to us.  And, Boomers are very adept at filtering out most messages because we are jaded from years of advertisers, marketers, and businesses trying to catch our attention.  However, we respond like Pavlovian dogs to the right advertising.  As you might know, Boomers spend about $2 trillion every year.

The big problem is that most people don’t understand how to reach us.

Baby Boomers Are a Huge Market

The huge Baby Boomer cohort includes all people who will be turning 48-to-66 years old in 2012.  (The high birthrate, or boom, started in 1946 and lasted through 1964.)  And, though we are getting older, we are not luddites.  About 80% of Boomers use the internet, and 25% of us go online from our mobile phones.

Still, you Gen X and Millennials might need more convincing, so try this quote from Baby Boomer Headquarters:

"We are amused when (people) ask what effect the Boomers are having on the economy. Folks, in 2012, the economy IS the Boomers! We represent the vast majority of the workforce. There are 75 million of us; we ARE the economy. That is not bragging; that is just a statistical reality."

baby boomer womenBoomers Are the Economy

Boomers already know that we are the biggest, baddest, most important market force in the economy.  We have had advertisers pandering to us ever since we were old enough to toddle over to the TV and manually change the channel to our favorite Saturday-morning cartoons.  So, we expect you to target us, and we want you to target us.  But, we want to hear you speak our language and we want you to sell us stuff that we want.

It seems as though writers and copywriters have made two big mistakes:

  • They call us seniors.
  • They have never come up with a better, catchier name.

Boomer Women Are Not Seniors

Most Boomer Chicks would rather be called four-letter words than to be called seniors, but we also hate the following words and phrases:

  • Old Women, Older Ladies
  • Silver Surfers
  • Golden Girls, Golden Years
  • The Graying Population (Most of us dye our hair.)
  • Grandma, Grandmothers (Although we may be grannies.)
  • Mature (We still sing, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.)
  • Middle Aged (For obvious reasons.)

Well, if you can’t categorize us as seniors or use any of the traditional designations, what should you call Boomer women when you’re trying to sell real estate, life insurance, living wills, high-heeled orthopedic shoes, and all those other goodies?  The answer: You’re in marketing; put a focus group together and come up with a new-and-improved name for us.

What to Call Female Boomers

Even though we are all Boomers and most of us had a lot of siblings and tons of playmates in our neighborhoods, our cohort encompasses almost twenty years.  Well, here are some possible names to call us... until some enterprising Gen X-er puts a flipping focus group together.

  • Boomer Women (Boring)
  • Boomer Chicks (Not as offensive as you might think.)
  • Boomer Babes (A play on the phrase Baby Boomer.)
  • Boomer Girls (We use the word “girls” loosely.)
  • Women Over 40, Women Over 50 (Descriptive but too long.)
  • Female Boomers (Somewhat clinical.)
  • Aging Baby Boomers (The word “aging” is okay. “Aged” and “old” are not.)
  • Boomer Senioritas

All Boomer Chicks live in fear of being asked, "Would you like the senior discount?"

courtney love is a baby boomerBoomers Span Almost 20 Years

It’s obvious that someone needs to come up with a new phrase that’s memorable, but not offensive.  And, part of the problem is that the Boomer cohort is so big it is often divided into two segments.

  • Older Boomers: Born in 1946-1955, are more like aging hippies.  These Boomers went through Beatlemania, the Kennedy assassinations, the war protests, and the Woodstock years.
  • Younger Boomers: Born in 1956-1964, are more like punk rockers.  These Boomers embraced or rejected disco, felt less “special” or “rebellious” than their older siblings, and were less likely to have shunned capitalism.

Try Reaching Boomers Through Music

Music is what defined Baby Boomers. However, there are older, straight, non-hippie chicks who never spent a weekend camping in the mud to hear their favorite rock bands.  And, there are quite a few younger Boomers who think “The Ramones” refers to a mountain range in Italy.  In my opinion, you are always safe when mocking disco; even those Boomers who love to dance will assure you that the lyrics in disco songs are asinine.

Advertisers and marketers really need to come up with a non-derogatory term for Boomer women or “women over 45” or whatever phrase currently is being used in lieu of the word “senior”.  There is just too much money at stake.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone my age who really adores the phrase “Baby Boomer,” but calling us “Boomers” is better than calling us “seniors”. And, don’t worry.  When more of us reach 65, we might allow you to use the word “senior” ... maybe... okay... probably not.

Photo Credits: All photos are from Wikipedia.

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Do you care if people call you a senior?  Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

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Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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8 Comments

  1. kimm

    At 50 I would not be pleased to be called "senior" and "boomer" displeases me as well. I don't have a lot in common with the folks who danced in the mud at Woodstock, I was too busy being a 1st grader. I believe the "younger" baby boomers need their own category. When I became a grandparent I opted to be Mimi, not grandma. A very elderly acquaintance took great offense at my name choice and said I was insulting the good name of grandmas everywhere!

    That said, I love my age and have never been fitter or happier. I expect life to get better and better with each passing year. Maybe someday I will feel differently about "senior" labels, but I doubt it!

    • Tina

      Kimm,

      I was part of the dancing-in-the-mud at Woodstock crowd...although I lived in Hawaii back then and did not get a chance to hit Woodstock. Hey, I wish I could come up with a good name for the younger segment of baby boomers. I once floated "Disco Boomers" but everyone got upset and hated it.

      Cheers,
      Tina Boomerina

  2. Annie

    I agree senior is wrong word

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  4. joan stommen

    I'm older than boomers at 69. Just had our annual girlfriend getaway weekend. We do not look nor act like senior older ladies. However.....NBD if we're getting senior discount, right?
    I prefer the phrases like growing along or still maturing in my
    writings. If marketers want a new tag line....go it. Be careful with denial......aging along with grace and smile and attitude is what keeps us forever young and fun!

  5. Donna Hull

    I'm a boomer who hates being called a "Senior." Elder - even worse. The word doesn't apply to any face of my life. I do feel sorry for marketers because there is no word to call us that 77 million boomers will agree upon. I don't think boomers will ever be ready to be called "seniors," even when the term actually applies - say at age 90 or so.

    Also, I'm in the Older Boomer group and I was never, ever a hippie. Preppie and Beach Boys were more my style, and that of many of my friends. See, 77 million boomers will never be one.

    • Tina

      Donna, that is so true. There is no good word or phrase to describe the Boomers. I don't even like the word Boomers, but I like it better than Seniors, Elders, Mature People, Old People, or anything else I've heard. Some people like Zoomers, but I would never call myself a Zoomer... or a Generation Jones person... even though I almost qualify for that.

      I never thought of myself as a hippie although I went to festivals and all that. I liked the Beach Boys, too, but not as much as The Who or Led Zep. Well, you can call me almost anything as long as it's not "Senior". If people have to call me an Elder, I would prefer Elderberry as in the Elton John song. Hey, even if I live to be 99, I won't want to be called Senior, and I'm not alone.