Age is something that doesn’t matter unless you are a cheese.” – Billie Burke
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling is living it up.
She and her husband have a 42-foot trawler, have a villa in Florida, and live in a riverfront home in Maryland. And they are retired. She, from her career as a seventh-grade school teacher and he, from his job as a University professor.
Here’s the thing. Folks retire all the time, but when Kathleen did it she made the national news. Why? Because at the moment she packed up her desk, Kathleen was exactly 62 years, one month, 25 days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes old… and, more importantly, because of just who Kathleen was and still is.
She is officially recognized as the first of the “Baby Boomers.”
The Boomers, of course, were that massive wave of births that followed World War II. And as they grew, they shaped our world. Crib sales, home sales, schools, the job market, the stock market, politics. Many a marketer, many a copywriter, many a merchant of all kinds owes a fortune to the tracking of evolving Boomer trends.
Today, all eyes are on the millennials. They’re a throng even larger than the Boomer demographic. And no doubt, just as much a shape-shifting force for marketers. No question, whatever is coming next is a marketing story you’ll need to pay attention to, even if some of our politicians and a few of the Boomers themselves are not.
But don’t count the Boomers out just yet.
Here are a few facts that make the case pretty strongly…
- Who’s a Boomer and who isn’t? Officially, it’s anybody born between 1946 and 1964. So right now, that’s anybody in the range of 51 to 71.
- Within that group, you’ve got the “leading edge” Boomers at the front of the pack and, if born after 1955, what’s called a “trailing edge” Boomer behind that.
- As recently as 2005, one out of every three adults over 21 in the U.S. is a Boomer. the arrival of the Millennials into adulthood has, of course, changed that.
- According to expert Brent Green, writing for the Direct Marketing Association, about 38% of the US population is already over 50. By 2020, that number should be more like 50%.
- Boomers spend as much as $2 trillion a year on goods and services. And will outspend the younger generation by 2010 by over $1 trillion
- Boomers have about $28 trillion in disposable income. That’s just in the U.S. No wonder all those middle-aged guys buy sports cars.
- Most boomers did not grow up in rich homes. Nor did they all have white-collar jobs in the ’80s and ’90s. Some 25 million boomers, in fact, are flat broke.
- In fact, half of American homes have less than $1,000 in financial assets. Ouch. Among Boomers, only 36% are sure they’ll have enough money to fund a comfortable retirement.
- What do Boomers love to eat? Forget the granola, ex-hippie, New Age, oat-eating cliché. Nearly 75% of the time, when Boomers “eat out” it’s at a fast-food joint.
- A decade ago, senior citizens were only 13% of the population but consumed 30% of all prescription drugs. Imagine how much bigger those numbers are today.
- More than 5 million Boomers already have diabetes. Many more high-blood pressure, heart problems, and — most of all — issues with obesity.
- However, Boomers are also a heck of a lot more active than prior 50+ folk. Just ask any doctor who’s treated a weekend warrior for a torn ACL or rotator cuff injury.
- If you get to age 50 without any serious major ailments, chances are high — at least right now — that you could live to 100. It’s more likely than at any time in history.
- Most retirement plans factor for 4% inflation. That might not be enough.
- Most health plans, especially in today’s uncertain environment, do NOT factor in the true costs of medical care when you age. At least in the U.S., you’ll need an extra $250,000 to cover what insurance and Medicare will not.
- Less than half as many companies as 1988 offer health benefits to retirees. And that number is falling fast, which is partly why medical bankruptcy is so common.
- What’s the top priority for Boomers moving into their golden years? For many, it’s just trying to get out of debt. And to make up for lost retirement savings.
- Which is why vitamins, medical care, weight and exercise, insurance, preventative medicine… and other health-related issues resonate so well with this crowd.
- Stocks and real estate, life and property insurance, collectibles, second careers, extra income and anything else rank pretty high on the interest meter too.
- 55% of Boomers say they’ll move when they retire. At least 36% say they’ll pack up once the kids are out of the house. Get ready for a big shift in the property market.
- The generation that invented American materialism is also, not surprisingly, hungrier now for purpose and meaning. They want to be part of a greater goal.
- Of course, old(er) folks become increasingly concerned with not looking… well… old, too. They’re more wide open than ever to anti-aging products.
- They do not, however, appreciate marketing that panders to the clichés of aging. Or to anything that suggests they should start accepting their fate.
- Given the extra years of vitality — and a slew of financial pressures — don’t expect Boomers to stay retired long. “Boomerang retirees” will rejoin the workforce.
- That suggests that second career advice, entrepreneurial programs, skill teaching courses, and networking products should be pretty popular too.
- If you’re wondering what the heck’s up with all today’s divisive politics and tectonic shifts, Boomers could be a big part of the explanation. They’ve always been skeptical of authority. Now they’ve got decades of broken promises to justify it.
- These days, it’s pretty clear, age 70 is the new 50. How long before 80 is the new 60? I’d say about 9 years and counting.
- By 2030, we’ll have 10X the number of centenarians. With plenty more on their way to that milestone. What products would that give rise to? Think about it.
- Here’s a big shift, for all ye that mock grandma for her technical prowess: Over 70% of younger Boomers have smartphones. On the “leading edge,” that number is still over 55%. So you’d better make sure your pitches are mobile-ready.
Tally all that up and what does it make you think?
Probably, that you ought to consider launching a publicly-traded biz that sells vitamin-insurance to the sports-minded Boomer. And that your ads had better work on an iPhone. Or something like that.
Last modified: October 8, 2017