As of April 25, 2016, “Millennials” have officially overtaken “Baby Boomers” as America’s largest generation.

Now, as a member of the Baby Boomer generation (barely),generations2050 and a two-time contributor to the Millennial group, I feel conflicted regarding my apparent win-lose situation.

On the one hand, the Millennials I know, and support, are imaginative, energetic and fun to be around—always willing to stop what they’re doing and listen to one of my stories… or, at least pretend to listen. I love working with them, living with them (most of the time) and in particular learning from them.

On the other hand, I’m getting a bit overloaded by the constant barrage of attention this generation receives, particularly from businesses – both as customers and employees.  Every turn of the page (or swipe for you Millennials) results in a new headline promising how to “attract Millennials,” “keep Millennials happy,” “buy Millennials’ love” (OK – the last one I made up). It’s beginning to feel like that song everyone listens to repeatedly for a few weeks, months, and then suddenly hates because it’s been played too often.  (For Baby Boomers think “Unchained Melody” and for Millennials, I don’t know, perhaps “All About That Bass.” You pick.)

I guess the question is, what about us poor Baby Boomers? Does anyone still care about us?

Well, my friends, the answer is a definite yes! At least the smart companies still care about Boomers. A few interesting facts about us Boomers…

  • Boomers are still the primary spending cohort. According to AARP, Baby Boomers represent approximately 50 percent of all consumer spending… yet just 10 percent of marketing dollars are aimed at this group.
  • Boomers drive growth in many key markets, including the automotive market. People age 50 and older account for more than three out of every five (62 percent) new car purchases, according to the Detroit Free Press. This is up from 39 percent in 2001 and represents a growth rate that is much faster than the percentage population increase in this age group.
  • While younger generations, such as Millennials, are first to adopt new technologies, Boomers are responsible for driving growth once technologies go mainstream and shaping next-generation technologies that account for our aging eyes, ears and bodies.

The bottom line is that good marketers have a plan for attracting and keeping baby boomerBaby Boomer customers.

At Martec, we’ve been helping clients better understand “aging population” and “senior living” issues for quite some time, and have seen the number of research studies with some, or all, focus on the senior segment increase dramatically over the past few years. Clients in healthcare and medical products obviously have their eye on this important segment, as do many of our financial services clients. Perhaps more interesting is the attention from less obvious sectors, such as foodservice and construction.

Martec recently completed several studies investigating trends within the Senior Living market for clients in these less obvious markets. Some noteworthy findings include:

  • Not all Baby Boomers (seniors) are the same. Segmentation within this group, and even within age cohorts, is still critical for marketing to succeed, and we’ve found evidence of exclusive treatment between “younger” and “older” seniors.
  • Seniors wish to stay independent for as long as possible – which has ramifications for technology, housing, media, etc.
  • Increasing life expectancy, and better healthcare, has resulted in delayed “waves” of demand for many markets. The expected growth has been slowed as seniors are behaving more like younger customers—not “acting their age” yet.
  • The Baby Boomer demand is often much more regionalized than other generations, or segments, largely due to the retirement zones.
  • Reaching Baby Boomer customers and respondents requires traditional techniques balanced with today’s online methods – see our post on not retiring phone-based research just yet.

If you’re a fellow Baby Boomer, join the movement—by dropping me a line with an example of a trend or recent experience that demonstrates our collective bargaining power.

If you’re a Millennial, or a member of the other “forgotten” generations, I’d like to hear from you as well with any feedback or comments. Or you can tell me how dumb I am… like most of the other Millennials in my life.


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