Changing Attitudes: Marketing To The Still-Influential Baby Boomers

They may be aging, but baby boomers still have a lot of influence on the consumer market. Here's how to market to them.
Contributing Writer,
November 24, 2011

They may be aging, but just by the sheer size of the generation (about 84 million strong) baby boomers still have a lot of influence on the consumer market. But the recession changed boomers’ attitudes and priorities, and to successfully reach these desirable consumers, you need to know about the shift in attitude and behavior.

The “Boomer Values Realignment Study,” a new report from Civano Living, Ypartnership and American LIVES, sought to measure the long-term psychological impact of the economic downturn on baby boomers and how it’s affecting their attitudes and spending habits. Here are three of their key findings.

1. Turning inward: Baby boomers are becoming more introspective, strongly focusing on family and friends. They are less interested in conspicuous consumption and consumerism and more interested in building and nurturing their personal relationships.

2. Focus on wellness: Wellness is a key concern for boomers, and encompasses both physical (“living free of illness or chronic pain”) and emotional (“feeling hopeful, joyful and energized”) aspects.

3. Valuing values: Values—not necessarily value—are major drivers of purchase decisions. Of course, boomers seek good value for their money, but they’re also more likely to buy products and services from companies that align with their values.

The good news is that boomers aren’t letting the recession crush their spirits. Though they’d had to make adjustments, they remain optimistic. And as they head toward retirement, the study says, they are “not shutting down, but opening up.”

"Boomers have shifted from consumerism as status to meaningful relationship as a measurement of a purposeful life," says Kevin Kelly, CEO and founder of Civano Development LLC. “These values shifts have created a new consumer niche that can provide business opportunities."

Their goals are varied—93 percent want to concentrate on getting or staying healthy; 90 percent plan to spend more time on their current hobbies; 86 percent are interested in pursuing new interests and goals; and 71 percent plan to travel and explore other cultures.

All this spells opportunity for small business owners. So how can your business take advantage of the boomers’ desires and attitudes?

First, focus on personal relationships. About 89 percent of boomers say it’s important to “be there for family and friends.” And this attitude spills over into their practical consumer decisions. For example, whether they were asked about homes, vacations or wellness services, their answers kept circling back to products and services that keep them connected with family and friends. Here's more:

  • 92 percent say it is important for their homes to have outdoor living spaces for gatherings
  • 88 percent say a positive aspect of retirement is having more time to spend with family and friends
  • 86 percent want vacations to connect them with family and friends
  • 85 percent want to live in a community that has public gathering places to meet and socialize
  • Boomers rated “events and social gatherings where I laugh and engage with friends” as the biggest booster of wellness, above activities like massages and fitness classes.

In your marketing and advertising, focus on how your products or services can help baby boomer build relationships, stay in touch with friends, connect with their family…you get the idea. This approach can work for so many businesses, from financial services to restaurants, from travel to home accessories, from fitness classes to spas…the list is pretty much endless.

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