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Baby Boomers: Why Do So Many Companies Not Get It?

Baby Boomers: Why Do So Many Companies Not Get It?

By Susan Williams

I don’t get it.

More and more articles are being published on how businesses are missing out on opportunities to market to baby boomers but they just don’t seem to be hearing the message.

Here are just a couple of examples.

In this Forbes article, they reported;

“Boomers, those in their 50s and 60s, are poised to become half the U.S. population by the end of next year and control 70% of the nation’s disposal income. They account for $46 trillion in wealth and stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years. They spend heavily on cars, travel and technology, and account for 50% of all CPG dollars spent… Yet, only 5% of ad dollars is directed at them…”

By the way, yes, you read that right – that’s trillion with a “T“.

And in this article by Marketplace they shared that not only do baby boomers control 70% of the disposable income and account for more than half of all US spending and stand to inherit some $15 trillion they are also;

“…far from “dropping out” as they did in the late ’60s, they’re staying in the workforce far longer than previous generations did.”

Which means that their cash flow will probably stay steady for some time rather than being dependent only on a fixed income made up of pension and savings.

So when it comes to baby boomers, why are businesses “not getting it“?

Businesses are usually pretty good at sniffing out where the money and opportunities are but in this case they are completely ignoring it.

I think we can capture the possible reason in one word – AGEISM.

Ageism simply defined is “prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly”.

I think that ageism itself is a pretty complex issue and arises from many different influences. However when it comes to business and marketing to baby boomers, I think there are a few direct influences that we could point to that may be contributing.

Aging Isn’t Sexy

Efforts aside from some of the forward thinking organizations out there that are actively trying to shift the aging perceptions, for the most part, aging isn’t viewed as sexy.

Just take a glace at the average Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feed.

Youth is celebrated. No gray hair or wrinkles there. And if you do see them, they are usually in a fit body with flowing gray locks either on a beach or a boat. Or, doing some crazy stunt that you wouldn’t expect an older person to be doing. Or an unrealistic image of an older person with some comment like “how well they are aging“.

In a youth centered culture, getting excited about the prospect of promoting or marketing to an aging population just has not been the norm.

New Money In Aging

People having disposable income when they are older is a relatively new situation. Previously, many older people were on fixed incomes and having the health, time and money to spend was not something that was previously the norm. The fact that baby boomers have all three of these is relatively new territory for companies and is probably contributing as to why they are so slow to respond.

Marketers Are Young

If you’re responsible for marketing, chances are you best understand the age demographic you are personally living. And when it comes to advertiser and marketers, they are for the most part are relatively young.

As reported in this Forbes article, the median age of staff in agencies is 38. I am sure that for individuals this age trying to get excited about the prospect of getting older or even understanding what the needs are of a baby boomer are probably not even in the view of these folks.

So if businesses want to target this market, they will need to better understand this market. (As an aside, this actually may be a great opportunity to put aside their ageism bias’ and hire some baby boomers to help them out).

They Don’t Think Baby Boomers Are On Social Media

There is an ingrained belief that older people are not technologically saavy and not using social media. Well, surprise they are. As reported by Forbes;

“…according to a study by Google, boomers and seniors spend more time online than they do watching TV. 82% of boomers who use the internet have at least one social media account, and they have an average of 4.6 social media accounts…”

So baby boomers are online and active. Again, another misconception busted. I just love this statement I heard a while back, “millennials share, baby boomers buy“. I’m just wondering when businesses will wake up to this fact.

Baby Boomers Are Loyal To Brands – They Won’t Change

There is yet another misconception that once a baby boomer uses a brand they stay with that brand. Again – false.

As reported in CrowdTwist, they stated that loyalty is not a one size fits all and the assumption that baby boomers are set in their ways and unwilling to change is actually false. They suggested that “to generate loyalty in this segment, brands must show value, be persistent and keep offerings simple“.

To me these needs don’t sound that much different to any other age demographic requirements.

Being a baby boomer myself and personally trying to raise awareness of the opportunities available to businesses, it’s hard to watch this all play out from the sidelines. I think this situation only helps to reinforce the idea that people become invisible to society as they age.

So to all you businesses out there, I’m here to say that we are not invisible. And to those that are now recognizing and appreciating this, chances are you will be very well rewarded.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.