Thursday, August 16, 2007

Boomers and the Sixties

We got an email the other day from Mr. Bert Shlensky, a long-time veteran of marketing to Boomers. Bert had read the book and felt we underestimated the impact and importance of the leading edge Boomers, those born from 1946-54, who came of age during the creative and innovative era of the 1960's, embracing Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n Roll .

His sense was that those experiences shaped them into a unique and different segment of Boomers, which he wondered why we had not covered more in Boomer Consumer.

We responded to Bert that "You're right. In the book we do only give lip service into the impact of counterculture - protesting, drugs, social issues and their collective influence in shaping Boomer mindset – particularly the 50+."

We went on to tell him that "While you’re right that those are critical factors, we have struggled with how to quantitatively measure the real impact of them -- we know they helped shaped Boomers, but when we start to contemplate/measure their influence we find ourselves in a Purple Haze."

(Okay, so we think we're funny).

In truth, the book intentionally focuses more on understanding all 78 million of today's Boomer Consumers than trying to make sense of those Boomers who came of age in the early 1960's. We discuss the key cultural experiences that bind together all Boomers; but we also point out some of the differences between leading edge and trailing Boomers.

Bert responded that his hypotheis is that leading edge Boomers are very different. He thinks they:

  • have less traditional lifestyles and job histories
  • are more cynical and less trusting of everything including media
  • are more innovative

Anyone want to weigh in on that?


Robert said...

There is a fine book covering the exact topic: Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices & Predictions by Brent Green

While a competitor, the observations contained are worth consideration.

Matt Thornhill & John Martin said...

You're right, Robert. Brent's book is spot on. But we don't consider each other competitors but missionaries. Every voice trying to get the word out that Boomers are still a viable marketing target is welcomed.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the "leading edge boomers" and I think robert is right, to a degree. MOst of us got real as we moved from protesting, and the accoutrements of that culture to being productive members of society. Most of the leading boomers I know have become more conservative than our younger boomer siblings.
But the Trust part id on target. We don't trust media, politicians, advertizing whatever. They have all lied to us and will say anything to get our money or vote_same thing.
We do our own research and figure it out. Makes very much more well read and knowledgeable than the average boomer.
My two cents,Suzanne

SRK said...

Based on Karl Mannheim's reserach of 'defining moments' or 'markers' (significant national or personal events in each person's life usually between the ages of 17-23), a person's basic interpretaion of life during this time results in a specific perspective of how the world operates. Leading edge boomers and Generation Jones boomers had different experiences during this time period, and marketers should understand how each group's specific motivations are impacted by these differences in values.

Gretchen Lambeth said...

I agree. As a trailing boomer married to a leading edge I can tell you we are VERY different in these three categories... sometimes almost as two distinct groups. Thanks for the great blog and emails...keep um'coming!

The Midlife Gals said...

Weigh in?? Are you KIDDING? This demographic description of us 'leading edgers'

* have less traditional lifestyles and job histories
* are more cynical and less trusting of everything including media
* are more innovative EXACTLY who WE are, The Midlife Gals! We're NOT the ones who read AARP (or even use our cards). We're still having fun, still jaded, take a puff or two when we feel ike it and we're THE target market these days. That's why we started our blog, THE MIDLIFE GALS.

See what we're talking about and laugh as you go.

Maybe you should interview US!


Kelly and Sally Jackson

Valuable Insights into the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today's Baby Boomers

This blog is by the authors of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America's Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group, on sale now.

Here is where you'll find information referenced in the book, as well as updates, news and perspectives from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of the Boomer Project.