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Why Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore Baby Boomers
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Why Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore Baby Boomers

When it comes to marketing, the focus always seems to be on youth. What are they watching… what’s trendy? As a result media companies focus on reaching consumers age 18-34 or 18-49, who spend (or have a key role in spending) billions of dollars every year. But by solely focusing on these groups, advertisers and consumer goods manufacturers are overlooking a group that has tremendous buying power: the 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. today.

Born between the years 1946-1964, the oldest of the Boomers are beginning to retire. But today’s middle aged and older consumers are different than their predecessors. The conventional wisdom that they spend little, resist technology and are slow to adopt new products needs to be re-assessed. Boomers are an affluent group who adopt technology with enthusiasm (think about the number of parents or grandparents who regularly send e-mails or upload photos to Facebook and other sites). They have also shown a willingness to try new brands and products.

Boomers should matter to marketers and CPG companies because they spend 38.5% of CPG dollars. Yet it’s estimated that less than 5% of advertising dollars are currently targeted towards adults 35-64 years old (which includes the latter half of Generation X in addition to Boomers). With most marketers generally targeting 18-49 year olds, more than half of the affluent Boomer demographic is ignored entirely.

“Boomers should be as desirable for marketers as Millennials and Gen-Xers for years to come; they are the largest single group of consumers, and a valuable target audience. As the U.S. continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers,” said Pat McDonough, Senior Vice President, Insights, Analysis and Policy at the Nielsen Company.

Consider these Nielsen facts about Boomers:

  • Dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories
  • Watch the most video: 9:34 hours per day
  • Comprise 1/3 of all TV viewers, online users, social media users and Twitter users
  • Time shift TV more than 18-24s (2:32 vs. 1:32)
  • Are significantly more likely to own a DVD player
  • More likely to have broadband Internet access at home

And if you think that the web sites Boomers visit are entirely different than those visited by adults age 18-34, you’d be mistaken: 8 of the top 10 web sites are the same:

Most Popular Sites By Age Group
RANK Sites for Baby Boomers RANK Sites for 18-34
1 Google 1 Google
2 Yahoo 2 Yahoo
3 Bing 3 Facebook
4 Facebook 4 Bing
5 Microsoft 5 YouTube
6 AOL 6 Microsoft
7 YouTube 7 AOL
8 Wikipedia 8 Fox Interactive Media
9 Ask 9 Apple
10 Amazon 10 Wikipedia
Source: The Nielsen Company

At a time when most analysts are predicting much slower growth in consumer spending, manufacturers and marketers need to look at every opportunity to grow market share. Boomers can represent tremendous potential to those who know how to reach them.