There are around 76 million baby boomers in the U.S. today. And while this is the year that millennials will overtake boomers in terms of sheer numbers, it often appears that 95% of all marketing efforts are directed toward the younger audience.
According to Nielsen, in less than five years 50% of the U.S. population will be over 50. They’ll control 70% of the nation’s disposable income, and not insignificantly they’re set to inherit $15 trillion in the next two decades.
Today, Apple and IBM are working together on a project to deliver a new tech service to the fast-growing market of older adults in Japan. In that country, 25% of the population is currently 65 or older.
However, the key to targeting this group is not to simply think of them as a bunch of old folks you can appeal to with a single strategy. Like everyone else, boomers have very specific interests. Some are fanatics about exercise and staying in excellent shape. Others have a collection of guitars stashed around their homes, and still attend live music events all year long. Another niche is into performance cars. There are millions and millions of foodies. Still others live to play golf.
In other words, to a large degree they are defined by what they love to do. So the best way to make an emotional connection with boomers is to tap into what they’re most passionate about. Like everyone else, boomers aren’t all that excited about spending money for things they need – health care, medication, insurance – but rather on the activities they can’t get enough of.
Despite the remarkable financial power of boomers, only about 15% of advertising dollars are spent on this demographic according to Nielsen. That’s mostly because brands don’t want to be perceived as being ‘for old folks’. But boomers don’t want to think of themselves as being old either. So maybe this means casting people who are in the target (rather than Mick Jagger’s grandchildren), but showing them as happy, fit and in the moment.
‘You’d have to be an idiot to turn your back on this humongous growth market’ says Jody Holtzman, head of AARP’s Thought Leadership project. Evidently, there are lots of brands out there who haven’t quite figured it out yet.