Monday, October 29, 2007

Boomer Grandparents and Halloween

Here's one we know you don't know:

Among Boomers who are Grandparents, one out of three plan to go "trick or treating" on Wedneday night, according to our analysis of BIGresearch's Consumer Intentions and Actions Study, September 2007.

Who do you suspect they are going out with? Their grandkids, of course.

Marketing to Boomers who are grandparents (some 36% of all Boomers, and increasing every day), is going to be a big trend in the coming years. Sites like and publications like GRAND Magazine are just the tip of the iceburg.

You'll need to decide how your company or organization can tap into the Grandparent life stage as a way to reach Boomers.

As we like to say, being a Grandparent isn't a rational description, it's an emotional badge of honor and distinction. And once a Grandparent, always a Grandparent.

Boomers: Just What Kind of Sandwich Generation Are We?

Two stories from over the weekend that typify why it is so difficult to peg the Boomer Consumer into one overall classification.

First up is an op/ed piece from a younger Boomer, Mary Sanchez, of The Modesto Bee. Thinking about her older mother, she is worried about the impact Boomers growing older will have on Social Security, Medicare and everything else.

She writes:

"Soon the boomers will face their own mortality. Like my mother, everyone who reaches their "golden years" deserves to live them in dignity. But for that to happen, boomers need to begin seriously considering how they will live out their last years and, yes, how they will die."

Pretty grim stuff and something obviously on the minds of many Boomers.

But then there's this piece from Kristy Gray of the Jackson Hole Star Tribune, that portrays another side of today's Boomer: kicking butt. She writes about her bald-headed 50-year-old boss showing her up at a Kick Boxing class at the local health club.

The boss doesn't sound like a Boomer contemplating how he will die. In fact, he's doing what he can to keep on living, and living healthy.

This "Middlesence" for Boomers comes with a range of emotions and motivations. Marketers need to identify the mind-set of their Boomer Consumers and segment their marketing efforts accordingly, in order to best connect with them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Boomer Brain

Brilliant piece by David Brooks in today's New York Times about how he's "outsourced" his brain. The point, in a nutshell, is that he no longer has to use brain cells to remember stuff like directions, phone numbers, even how to do things, because he's got a GPS system, a Blackberry and Wikipedia.

While insightful on its own merits, it also raise two issues for marketers and for Boomers.

First, with all the technology and tools we Boomers are using so we don't have to use our own memories to retain information, what exactly will we be using our brains for as we grow older?

These days, with modern medicine, the body and most of its parts can be kept in working order longer and longer. But the brain seems to lose steam and ability, no matter how many Red Bulls we drink. Knowing that future, how will using our brains less and less now, during Middle Age, do to hurt our brain functionality? Or will it actually help us?
In our work, we've identified Mental Vitality as a key driver of Boomer behavior going forward. Boomers want to make sure their brains stay fully functioning until their last breath, and will invest time, money and effort into making that the case.

So Brooks' observation could create opportunities for marketers that can tap into that extra capacity. There is a business here, we think.

The second issue comes from this in Brook's piece:

"I read in a piece by Clive Thompson in Wired that a third of the people under 30 can’t remember their own phone number. Their smartphones are smart, so they don’t need to be. Today’s young people are forgoing memory before they even have a chance to lose it."

How indeed will today's young people use the "Free Space" now available in their brain due to outsourced tasks?

Initially, we got all giddy thinking about the potential advancement of mankind. Then we realized what will probably happen is what happens when we get new computers or devices with double the gigabytes of storage. Before we know it, the extra gigabytes are gone, used up by who-knows-what we've stored.

Still, though, this could create opportunities for marketers and businesses to figure out how to leverage this brain power now available.

Or, we'll discover years from now that it provided no major advancement for mankind. Just a place for different information to be put into long-term storage.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The First First Boomer Cartoon

We told you the "avalanche" of articles and columns about Baby Boomers and the impending bankruptcy of Social Security was just starting.

The number of articles in the past week alone (551) are enough to swamp most inboxes.

Now we've seen the first cartoon about the first Boomer and Social Security.

Mike Keefe
Denver Post
Oct 21, 2007

We bring this to your attention only because it makes us a little crazy. On the one hand it is a good thing that this event of the first Boomer reaching age 62 might start generating some political willpower to do something about the inevitable collapse of Social Security and Medicare (read this editorial in yesterday's Newsday in NY for an example).

But on the other hand, the real impact of Boomers on Social Security is still some years off. We are really only talking about a trickle right now, and yet we are innundated with these Chicken Little headlines.

Rather than being clever or metaphor-filled, we'd encourage more articles like the Newsday one. At least it talks about what needs to be done.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Now it is the Boomer "Stampede"

The stories begin.

"First Boomer applies for Social Security" is out on the AP wire tonight.

Woe is us.

We hope Ms. Casey-Kirschling never goes out and buys incontinent products, or denture cream. Can you imagine the use of "avalanche" and "tsunami" in those articles?

The truth is that virtually every survey we see about Boomers and retirement finds that the majority of Boomers don't plan on retiring. Oh, they'll collect those Social Security checks, but they'll keep earning and spending money, too.

The system will need to be changed to accommodate America's largest generation. But there isn't going to be a stampede, avalanche or tsunami in the next few years.

Except for articles like this one.

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.