Thursday, February 21, 2008

Small Business and Boomers

Most of the attention focused on Boomers these days is not by the Fortune 500, but the Not-Yet-Fortune 5 Million -- or small businesses.

Small businesses are faster, more flexible and more nimble than large corporations (think David versus Goliath). They respond to marketplace changes and opportunities quicker than the members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. They always have; they always will.

Here's a story from Smart Money about small businesses seizing the Boomer opportunity. Nothing particularly new here, but it might inspire the next garage start-up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Generational Definitions

Once more, the New York Times has a solid piece on the definitions of generations, or the lack thereof.

The context is the presidential race -- is Barack Obama a Boomer or not? But the most important point of the piece for marketers is this:

"Generationality is not just what sociologists or advertisers decide. It is more crucially how one imagines oneself"
True self-identity is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.

We use the Baby Boomer label only as a tool to identify a consumer group that deserves attention, and requires some new understanding from marketers in order to reach them successfully. Even if some argue the dates are hard and fast, what's more important is which generational cohort feels like the best fit for someone personally.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting Boomers from Here to Medicare

In this article, Bob Moos of the Dallas Morning News does his usual effective job of reporting on the issues facing older Boomers who are no longer covered by an employer or group health insurance plan, but are too young to qualify for Medicare coverage.

As more and more Boomers find themselves in this situation, the marketplace appears to be developing products to address this problem (by making it a business opportunity for them). Private insurance companies are creating health care plans specifically to cover those ages 50-64, who are not yet old enough to get Medicare, and don't have coverage through their employer.

We expect to see more marketplace solutions develop for the problems, er, opportunities, that come with a larger and larger older population. By 2028, twenty short years from now, we will have twice as many people over the age of 65 living in America as we have now.

Companies that understand the opportunities that will create are the ones who will prosper.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The End of Eons for Boomers

We reported on the recent decision by to drop the age requirement, which didn't go over very well with their members.

This article over the weekend in The New York Times tells the whole story.

What's interesting to us is that what we observed about "Boomer" focused sites is exactly what Jeff Taylor and seems to have experienced. From a posting last September:

The fundamental issue for all of these sites is relevance to Boomers or someone over 50. We don't think being a Boomer makes you a member of an affinity group -- it's just a demographic designation. Given that, why would "Boomers" flock to a web site to mingle with other "Boomers." There needs to be a stronger, more relevant connection -- like life stage, marital status, hobbies, etc.
We hope the other players are paying attention.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Boomer Brand and Politics

For amusement, read this blog posting at by Rich Karlgaard, and then scroll down through the comments.

We don't mix politics with marketing, but the "brand" headline got our attention. The last thing we think is that there is a Boomer brand. Clearly, the comments reflect similar thinking.

There is a Boomer Project brand, though (wink wink), and it's a registered trademark, by the way.

Financial Planning Help from Money Magazine

Good series of articles for Boomers about managing their money at, naturally, Money magazine.

We applaud such coverage and wish there was a Boomer-oriented place on the Web where Boomers could find any and all useful information about financial planning and money management.

Could be an opportunity for a portal/social networking type site. Anyone seen anything like this yet out there?

Misunderstanding Boomers Is News

Today's includes a story called "The Misunderstood Generation" about new research conducted by Edelman on Boomers.

The main learning appears to be something we've talked about -- being a "Boomer" doesn't make someone part of a affinity group, with similar likes and dislikes. It's simply a label used by demographers for those people born between 1946 and 1964. It includes some 78 million people, or one out of three adults in this country.

We use the term "Boomers" to get marketers to pay attention to this group, now that half of their members have crossed the AARP Line -- age 50. For the last 40 years, marketers ignored anyone over 50. With Boomers that age and older, marketers aren't sure what to do. Part of it is driven by the problem that Boomers themselves don't know what life after 50 is going to be like.

The Edelman research supports that, and apparently offers some insights about where to go from here.

Any marketer who thinks that group can be lumped into a single segment must not be that smart to begin with. Edelman's study, according to the article, identifies different segments within the Boomer cohort, including one that isn't wealthy, ready for retirement or very brand loyal. Our sense from the story is that Edelman , not surprisingly, are not interested in that group, which is about half of the 78 million. Instead, they want to focus on the

"...influential "bull's-eye Boomers," a term Edelman coined to describe Boomers whose opinions are well-respected and often solicited. The study showed that bull's-eye Boomers are typically wealthy, highly educated empty-nesters who are actively engaged socially, tuned-in politically and heavily involved in their community. Acting on research that indicates Boomers listen to other Boomers, Edelman believes bull's-eye Boomers carry a lot of influence."
Those of us who have been in marketing and advertising for a while will recognize that this approach is about focusing on the influentials, creating brand evangelists and relying on word-of-mouth to build brand preference.

The difference is that there isn't any talk of "age" of the "bull's-eye Boomer," because age doesn't matter when targeting Boomers (life stage, life style and other things are much more important than chronological age).

To be honest, other than our own work over the last five years, this is one of the first reports of other work being done in the marketplace to help marketers get a sense of what to do with Boomers.

Let's hope some marketers heed the advice.

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.