By Bill Willard
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Article Title: Baby Boomers -- Marketing to the "Me"
Author: Bill Willard
Word Count: 985
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Unless you’ve been in a dimly lit cavern for the past several
decades, you know that "Baby Boomers" is the collective name
given to the 76 million people born in the United States
between the end of World War II and 1964. Often described as
the largest, most knowledgeable and most fiscally influential
demographic group in American history, their motto could very
well be: Where does a 750-pound gorilla sit? Anywhere it
Getting to Know Them
Dubbed the "Me Generation" for their nonstop quest for
self-gratification, many "Boomers" pride themselves on their
counterculture values, for having led movements for social
rights and environmental awareness. However, marketers should
• The cultural rift opened by the Vietnam War between Boomers
who answered the call and those who avoided military service,
or thought service dishonorable, has never completely closed.
• Significant medical and scientific breakthroughs beginning
the 1940s have allowed Boomers to be the first Americans to
responsibility for being healthy, not just avoiding disease;
be fit, in shape, and to live longer...in effect, taking
of their lives in ways earlier generations could never
• Boomers value simplicity and like being in control. They
maintaining fitness and good health as manifestations of their
ability to affect everything going on around them. For many,
for example, the most dreaded aspect of a serious illness is
much being unable to think clearly or exercise as much as they
want, as it is losing the ability to earn income.
• Women may have first come into their own in this country as
result of World War II, but it was the demographic clout of
fiercely independent Baby Boomer women, combined with their
widespread entry into the workplace, that has lead to their
increasingly controlling the purse strings of American
households and businesses.
• Out of necessity or otherwise, many Boomers of both the
popular genders will continue working well-past retirement
In truth, if all the Boomers who begin turning 65 in 2011
retire on schedule, the effect on national productivity, not
mention the financial markets, will be enormous. As a result,
policies that encourage Boomers to remain in the labor force
will be a necessity, but you can bet Boomers will find a way
make it all seem trendy (just as they did when they invented
youth culture of the '60s).
• Through all this, the adult children of Baby Boomers will
continue to be an important part of their parents' lives.
Because Boomers had children later in life than previous
generations, some of these children will still be in school
living at home even as their middle-age parents are gearing up
second or third careers or just now realizing they may soon
have their own parents to care for.
What This Means to You?
As a result of these and other factors, Baby Boomers'
obligations will also be long-lived, and so, even now, staying
on top of their long-term financial security is (or should be)
a very high priority. Because of their economic clout, Boomers
will always be an attractive marketplace.
Marketers have focused their efforts on Boomers for decades.
"One of the surest ways to make sure a product prospers is to
wait until Baby Boomers enter that stage of their lives," said
Brad Edmondson, senior writer for American Demographics
Younger Boomers are still in their prime home buying and
family-starting years. Yet according to LIMRA, this is a
generation where life insurance has not been on their radar
screens. Similarly, until recently most Boomers also were well
behind the retirement planning curve.
Let's see why…
The children of the '60s married and had children later in
life--but many of these marriages didn't take, and second
families and weekend visitation privileges became unhappy
institutions for this generation. Add the effects of corporate
mergers and downsizing, the need to support elderly parents,
and the Boomers' mistaken belief that they could keep spending
while meeting other financial goals...it's little wonder so
many found themselves with credit problems and got a late
on retirement savings.
According to a report published by the Investment Company
Institute: "Baby Boomers have done less financial planning for
their future than did the previous generation. Studies show
that despite a large number of two-income households and a
higher per-capita income, they have a lower savings rate than
"More than half of the Boomers surveyed said they did not have
enough money to save regularly," according the report, which
was published on the Web site of financial planning firm,
Waddell &Reed, "while two-thirds felt they could not invest
the long term because of the need for immediate access to
At the same time, Boomers are confident they can keep earning
income later in life, either by postponing retirement,
launching new careers or starting homegrown businesses.
Ironically, though, according to another study, Boomers still
receive as much as 10% of their wealth from living parents.
Millions of Boomers began turning 50 in 1996, but you can
market to them as though they were still in their 30s or 40s.
This generation never has wanted to be like their parents, and
will always be young in their minds. Boomers may have been
careless with money in the past, but you can help by giving
them another chance to achieve personal financial security.
Your message to this generation: It's never too late, but the
sooner you start, the more you can do.
Want More? Send questions and comments to
About The Author: Bill Willard has been writing high-impact
marketing and sales training for over 30 years—but as Will
Rogers put it: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get
run over if you just sit there.” Through interactive,
"Do-While-Learning™" programs, e-Newsletters and
straight-talking articles, Bill helps small-business owners
independent professionals get the job done: profitably
performance, helping grow your business, skipping expensive
mistakes, making the journey to success faster, smoother,
easier. And fun!
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