What Do Baby Boomers Want?
by Christina Gregoire (AKA Tina Boomerina)
Baby Boomers have unique characteristics that make it hard for marketers to reach them. And, as Boomers age, characteristics from their younger days, formed during the 60's and 70's, will be the key to connecting with them.
This article is for all you marketers and all you bloggers who are trying to connect with Baby Boomers. Here's a hint: Boomers want to be cool.
Do Boomers Know What They Want?
The Boomer cohort (1946-1964) may not even know what they want or need. Well, it's up to entrepreneurs and marketers to come up with the right products and the right approach. Boomers don't respond like other target markets.
A good case can be made that the decisive characteristics of Baby Boomers were formed during the 1960's and 1970's. So, an understanding, of those early years, is key to reaching Boomers and their big bucks.
What Do Boomers Need?
Boomers need all those things that older folks need:
- Medications (Viagra, cholesterol drugs, anything related to healthcare)
- Fashion to fit older people's bodies (Don't laugh...you're next)
- Phones with larger numbers and tech toys that are easy to understand (or youtube-style instructions that explain tech toys in an easy step-by-step manner)
- Shady retirement planners (joke)
But Boomers Are Different Than Their Parents
Baby Boomers (especially Boomer women) would like to travel the world after their kids leave the nest. They want to do things that give meaning to their lives, and they want to leave the world a better place.
However, Boomers expect to get what they want or they will go somewhere else. And, most Boomers know when some Madison Avenue kid is trying to hustle them. So, even if you are trying to sell cheap food to starving Baby Boomers, you probably should have a Boomer writing your ad copy.
Baby Boomer Trends
Whatever Baby Boomers want, Baby Boomers get. Well, that’s not entirely true, but whatever phase of life that Boomers happen to be in will be the “in” stage...the "in" thing.
- In the 60's, it was hip to be a teenybopper or a college kid and to attend as many rock concerts as possible. Concerts were cheap back then. Backstage passes were like gold.
- In the 70's, it was cool to be in hanging out in college or dancing in discos.
- In the 80's, it was trendy to buy a house, have a baby, and buy a Volvo station wagon or a Mercedes.
- Someday, it will be hip to be 80-years-old and use a walker. (Even now, going gray is considered chic. Doesn't that prove my point?)
Marketers Made Us
Baby Boomers grew up in a TV society where advertising, music, television, and films molded them into a market segment. And, Madison Avenue did their best to turn Boomers into a voracious consumer society.
One of the tenets of the hippie movement was a backlash against media people who wanted to tell Boomers what to wear, what to do, and what to think. And, therein, lies the difficulty of reaching this cohort. (Sure, many robots will do anything that O Magazine tells them to do, but those BoomerBots are not necessarily the Boomers with the discretionary income... the ones you are trying to reach.)
Baby Boomer Characteristics
Boomers rejected the rigid social structure of the 50's and early 60's, and Boomers, especially those over 60, are:
- Defiant (rejecting rules)
- Pragmatic, but idealistic
- Raised with a sense of entitlement
- Unlikely to be anything like the elderly of today
- Difficult to define
Boomers Are Different Than Earlier Generations
What made Boomers this way? Baby Boomers grew up in a time with three TV stations and one TV per household. There were no movies on DVD. So Boomer children had to be creative and think for themselves.
- Boomers were able to make up games with a tennis ball and a stick.
- They ate Twinkies but never got fat because they were always playing outside.
- Boomers stayed out until it was too dark to see, and their parents were never exactly sure where their Boomer children were.
- Baby Boomers snuck over to the lake and went swimming when their parents told them not to.
- Boomer kids had no cell phones, so they walked over to their friends' houses to talk about the latest gossip. Sometimes, kids didn’t even knock when visiting neighbors. (I remember going into my best friend's house, as if it were my own.)
Can a Gen X or Gen Y marketer or advertiser or blogger ever understand people like us?
Marketing to Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers are used to marketers catering to them, but Boomers know when some young marketer is trying to reach into their wallets. And, they don't like it.
Boomers may have cut back on their spending, but some things never change. Instead of staying at a chic boutique hotel in Paris, this cohort may join the Peace Corps to experience their love of travel and freedom. If Boomers want something, they will keep trying until they find a way to get it.
Baby Boomers are used to making things up as they go, so they will have no problem adapting to new technologies, as long as the print is big enough to read.
And, because Boomers were once young and cocky, they will respond better to offers and ads written by people their own age. If that's not sitting well with Gen X and Y marketing people, Gen Xers should, at the very least, run their ideas by their own Baby-Boomer friends or use BB focus groups before charging ahead with their boffo marketing plans.
And, by the way, Boomers do not suck. Boomers are the people who invented the PC, which is the nickname or shortened version of "Personal Computer." Boomers are the people who paid for your education. Boomers are the people who did their best trying to raise you. And, Baby Boomers did not ruin America.
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What do you think of this article? Does anyone really understand Boomers? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.