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