Boomers are variously defined as those people born from the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s around the world. Most researchers use the end of the Second World War as a reference point, which means that as of 2006, this group of people has started to turn 60. They are not old, though. Don’t be confused about that. This demographic tidal wave will have a greater effect on institutions and businesses than the aging of any previous generation. Because of the size and spending power of the boomers, mature values and trends will dominate marketplace realities.
The Chief Marketer recently put out a list of 5 ways in which the Boomers will continue to shape the marketing and branding landscape. Here is what they said (from author, Brent Green):
Here are five ways that boomers will continue to change businesses and institutions as the vanguard reaches 60:
1) Health and fitness go beyond damage repair.
During the Past three decades, boomers have made substantial monetary contributions to health and fitness companies, such as Nike and Bally’s. As the boomers became fitness devotees during the 1970s and ‘80s, they enabled these companies to enjoy substantial growth.
Many of the leading fitness brands have forgotten their legacies, however, often ignoring the generation that propelled their early growth. Nike, for instance, has lost customers to New Balance, an athletic-shoe company that has been successful at building its brand image around middle-age themes. Likewise, Bally’s has lost opportunity to Curves, one of the fastest-growing franchises targeting middle-aged women.
Boomers will increasingly pursue fitness as a way to forestall the impact of aging. Less obvious will be emerging fitness drivers such as the desire to stay vigorous for grandchildren, undertaking intense physical preparation prior to adventure vacations and learning expeditions, and keeping fit to improve cognitive health and memory. By addressing such drivers, companies can distinguish themselves from the competition and gain the loyalty of boomers who feel left behind by other brand.
2) Changing workforce dynamics will forestall the retirement exodus.
Retirement looms on the horizon for a generation, and employers are becoming nervous. Many restless boomers are retiring early to pursue unanswered dreams. Some are fed up with job stagnation; others fear the implications of recent layoffs and corporate downsizing, preferring to act rather than react. Boomers are also seekers, and many are confronting the dissonance between their youthful dreams and present-day realities.
Nonetheless, a Merrill Lynch survey last year predicted that more than 75% of boomers plan to work in some capacity in retirement; more than 10% intend to start new businesses. So companies committed to easing a boomer exodus will be developing ways for their boomer employees to rejuvenate. Hardened HR practices will gain new flexibility: job sharing, flex scheduling, intermittent sabbatical-style breaks. New businesses will appear to help companies and boomers actualize phased retirement, offering such services as “knowledge capture and sharing,” “social network analysis,” and “cultural change.”
3) “Aging in place” changes housing patterns.
Aging boomers have been characterized as suffering from wanderlust, and a percentage of the generation will relocate to traditional retirement communities in Florida and Arizona.
But more boomers report an intention to “age in place.” A majority want to live within a three-hour drive of their children and grandchildren. To help boomers remain in their home communities, local developers will start building more retirement-friendly housing, such as patio homes and gated communities. Del Webb, the nation’s preeminent builder of age-qualified retirement housing, has been introducing new communities in nontraditional retirement locales such as Colorado, Delaware, and Virginia.
Further, new companies will emerge that provide services at home for those who choose to age in place. These will include home delivery of gourmet meals, shopping services, and home renovation services and biomedical technologies to accommodate future aging disabilities.
4) Boomers are planning ahead for healthcare.
In recent surveys, boomers have identified healthcare costs as one of their principal concerns. This includes angst about rising health insurance expenses, the future of the Medicare program, paying for prescription drugs, and the estate-draining costs associated with long-term care.
Continuing news coverage of a healthcare collapse is nudging many boomers to become more active in their search for solutions, including long-term care insurance, health savings accounts, annuities, and healthcare cooperatives. Gloomy domestic healthcare news will also fuel a trend toward expatriation among boomers seeking locales more progressive about healthcare. New businesses will emerge to help boomers find healthcare and medications overseas, as well as create cooperative buying networks of healthcare services.
5) The travel and tourism industry will continue to grow.
Boomers have contributed to the growth of many new forms of travel entertainment, from European sightseeing to high-intensity adventure vacations. As more of the generation prioritizes time for travel and learning, the tourism industry will continue to experience substantial growth.
Aging has introduced new restrictions concerning vacations involving extreme sports, so trends for the 60-plus set include blending low-key travel with immersive learning experiences.
For example, National Geographic has been developing its travel product, called Expeditions, in line with changing boomer tastes. Expeditions include out-of-the-ordinary journeys, education from preeminent tour guides, access to off-the-beaten-path experiences (such as a tour of the Sistine Chapel after hours), and trips managed so as not to overly strain the tourists. Emphasis is on learning, cultural immersion, and peak experiences.
Domestic hotels and resorts will continue to develop destination experiences to attract boomers, offering gourmet cooking, wellness education, and skill improvement in leisure sports such as golf and tennis.
Brent Green is the owner of Denver-based consultancy Brent Green & Associates and is a specialist in marketing to baby boomers. His book, “Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions,” was released this year by Paramount Market Publishing.
Source: The Chief Marketer