Forgotten, but Not Gone
Let’s start with a disclosure: while I came along at the end of the baby boom, I am very much a Baby Boomer, and proud to wear that title. Recent research has had me feeling a little long in the tooth though, with all this talk about Millennials and how big and important they are for marketers.
Nielsen just released a new study that makes me feel better. Titled “Introducing Boomers – Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation,” this research shows that we Boomers are still a major force in the economy. Typical marketer behavior slams the door on a target market once it passes age 49; after that the well is dry and it’s time to drill anew, according to conventional wisdom. At least until now.
Here are a few facts from the Nielsen study:
The 50 and over segment consists of nearly 100 million people Between now and 2030, the coveted 18-49 segment will grow by 12%, but 50+ will increase by 34% By 2017 (just five years out), half of the adult population in the U.S. will be over 50
Okay, that’s a lot of people over 50. So what? Here are some additional facts that might get your attention:
The 50 and older crowd control 70% of the nation’s disposable income They account for 49% of total sales 50+ consumers make up 40% of wireless customers and 41% of Apple customers
In other words, just because we’re getting older doesn’t mean we’re sitting on the porch waiting to die. We are online (33% of us qualify as “heavy” internet users), on Facebook (53% of us anyway), and we have money to spend ($230 billion in CPG sales).
The conventional marketing approach has been to put 50 and older consumers “out to pasture” because we stop spending on anything not driven by our advancing age. By the way, we still spend over $90 billion each year on our cars; we buy more cars more often, and spend more on each one than our Millennial friends. We also stand to inherit $15 trillion—with a T—over the next couple of decades.
But even with all this value, less than five percent of marketing dollars are targeted toward the 50 and older group, and most of that is from the pharmaceutical companies. Most Boomers are still fit and leading productive lives, and continue to see themselves as relatively young with a lot of time left.
If you’re a marketer or merchant, and you’re still thinking in terms of the 18-49 market, then it might be time to change your thinking. As has been the case for over four decades, the Boomers are changing the game and breaking new ground. Don’t get left behind.