The Baby Boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, is the largest in American history, its numbers nearly 80 million—or about one-third of the country’s population. Its size—and buying power—have captured the attention of marketers, eager to capture the interest of this generally affluent group. Along with the mystique of the Baby Boomers, a variety of myths have sprung up over the years. Here are some of them—and the reality!
Myth #10: Boomers are retiring early. When the first Boomers started to turn 65 and began to take down their Social Security benefits, recent studies have shown that only about one in 10 Boomers will stop working entirely when they reach retirement age.
Myth #9: Boomers are downsizing their homes. Not true! Once again, studies have shown that only about six percent of Boomers are planning to be living in a smaller residence within the next five years.
Myth #8: Most Boomers are married empty nesters. Only about one in four Boomers are married with kids who’ve left home. More than one-third still have children under 18 at home; an equal number are single.
Myth #7: You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising. Wrong again! While Boomers pay attention to advertising, two-thirds of them say that ads are too crude for their taste, and they’re less likely to buy a product if they consider the advertising offensive.
Myth #6: Boomers are brand loyal and will not switch. Actually, Boomers are just like the general population: They’ll eagerly experiment with new products. More than half agree with the statement, “In today’s marketplace, it doesn’t pay to be loyal to one brand.”
Myth #5: All Boomers are wealthy. Although collectively Boomers are America’s wealthiest generation in history, fewer than 10 percent are considered to be affluent; indeed, 25 percent of Boomers have no savings or investments.
Myth #4: Boomers are winding down. Nope! The typical Boomer regularly engages in at least 10 activities. More than one-half take at least one trip annually, and 22 million of them attend live sporting events.
Myth #3. Boomers are technologically challenged. In fact, Boomers were in the workforce during the advent of computers, e-mail and the Internet, and they’re the first to understand the importance of technology. In fact, more than 80 percent of Boomers routinely use the Internet, and they use it for instant messaging, downloading music and videos, financial activities, and online gaming.
Myth #2. Boomers are the "Me” Generation. Uh-uh. Boomers are caring for others, including their own parents—the “Greatest Generation” and their own offspring, and 70 percent report that they have a responsibility to make the world “a better place.”
Myth #1. Boomers are all the same. Although the media claim that the Boomer generation is a monolith, fact is, more changes occur during our lives between the ages of 50 and 65 than at any other time—careers, family, finance, health, all of which can significantly impact on attitudes, life goals, and consumer behavior.
Bottom line: Understanding the truths underlying these myths can help marketers develop products, craft strategies, and develop messages that will resonate with this generation—the largest and most affluent in our country’s history.