Thought Leadership

Don’t Forget the Baby Boomers! Reaching This Heavy Spending Generation Through Their Passions
Don't Forget The Baby Boomers

Millennial obsession

Marketers have been obsessed with the millennial generation for the past 10+ years.  And rightly so, they currently represent a group of 73 million people in the US alone who are currently between the ages of 23 and 38 (born between 1981 and 1996).  While this interest is clearly driven by their spending power; expected to reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, the obsession has more to do with figuring out how to market to this group.  They’ve proven to be a unique generation of independent thinkers, who are digitally savvy and control their own destiny.  Yes, a challenging group with which to break through, but loyalty is the reward if your brand is authentic to their experience.
Only recently have we begun to hear more about how to market to Gen Z; the next generation of spending power coming up in the US (the oldest of which are currently 23 and the youngest being eight years old).  The clamor to reach them at a young age to lock-in brand loyalty early will only grow.  Time will tell how this group reacts to old and new marketing strategies.

Don’t forget about the baby boomers!

But marketers would be foolish to ignore the baby boomer generation.  The baby boomer generation sprang from a marked increase in the birth rate post-World War II, from 1946 through 1964, with current members ranging in age from 55 to 73 years of age.  While the millennial population is expected to surpass baby boomers in 2019, boomers still account for a full 20% of the US population at approximately 72 million people, and according to U.S. News and World Report, control 70% of the country’s disposable income and spend $3.2 trillion a year!
As a group, this over-50 crowd should continue to be a major force in U.S. consumer spending, especially as those over 60 years old drive growth over the next five to 10 years.  According to Visa Business and Economic Insights this is happening for two reasons; demographics – there are simply more consumers over 60 than there were 10 years ago, and; behavior – boomers are retiring later, holding on to more debt and maintaining budgets for travel and other discretionary treats.
What are boomers favorite activities where they are most likely to spend their money? According to HowStuffWorks:
  • Staying fit – tennis, golf, jogging, walking, swimming
  • Traveling – with friends and family, with spouses
  • Enjoying sports of all kinds – TV, digital, in-person and playing themselves
  • Enjoying music, movies, theatre, books – both downloaded and live performances
  • Doing it themselves – home improvement, gardening, automotive, wealth management
  • Socializing with family and friends – restaurants, bars and private clubs (36% of the 34 million Americans who live alone are baby boomers, according to NewStrategist)
  • Volunteering – community, church, schools, hospitals

So, how should brands reach this influential audience?

While boomers may not react to a social influencer campaign like millennials might, they are out there and active, social and involved!  They have favorite bands and sports teams and they are proud alumni (over 31% of boomers have a bachelor’s degree).  Considering this, sponsorship of the right platform for your brand might make sense.  And sponsorship selection is a critical first step.  Our Property Advantage Report (PAR) is a custom-built, objectives based, weighted criteria driven tool we use to help our clients identify the passions to reach key audiences and help them drive their business goals, no matter the category.  This tool can help answer the what, when and where for sponsorship, while our Passion Study will help answer why fans are passionate about their favorite pastimes, helping build an activation plan that resonates and works.
We can see all kinds of possibilities for connecting with boomers through sponsorship and passion-based marketing.  Since boomers did not grow up in the digital age and their grandchildren know no other world, direct (non-digital) interaction has become more limited.  How about a sponsorship activation linking these two generations; grandparents and grandchildren?  Nothing could do this better than a live experience!  And don’t forget about the formative decades for boomers – the 60’s and 70’s; a rich tapestry of cultural change, artistic output and memorable human achievement.  Nostalgia connects to people’s emotions like no other and can be a source of activation ideas across a host of passion points.
And remember as a brand, your property partner has tickets, merchandise, attendance, social media and viewership goals to reach, so bring them ideas with mutually beneficial outcomes and they will help support your activation plans.  Working across a multitude of properties, we know how they operate and think and can help with this too.

What categories of brands should be active in reaching boomers through sponsorship?

Financial planning and insurance firms, pharmaceutical and medical device brands, fitness and nutrition companies to name a few.  But remember, this group isn’t all retirees; they are still very much active consumers of mobile phone service, automotive products and services, fashion and travel services of all kinds.  With such an active consumer target, the applicable category list is quite broad.  So if you’ve gotten this far in reading this, it likely applies to you.
Hope we’ve convinced you to think of the baby boomers! If you need ideas, let us know – we thrive in helping our clients unlock creative solutions.