NICHOLS’ WORTH by
GETTING BETTER, NOT OLDER:
BOOMERS REDEFINE MIDDLE AGE
The oldest boomers, born in
1946, began to turn 60 on January 1, 2006. Baby boomers are
turning 50 at an astonishing rate of one every 7 to 10 seconds.
That's more than 12,000 each day and over 4 million a
year for each of the next 18 years! With baby boomers turning
age 50 at the rate of more than
10,000 a day (New York
Times, October 28, 2005) the 50 and over segment of the
population is growing rapidly and becoming better educated and
more affluent with each passing day.
In the 85 metro markets surveyed regularly by The Media Audit
http://www.themediaaudit.com/50Plus.htm), the age 50
plus group has grown in the past five years from 41 million to
47 million and now represents 36.4% of the aggregate population
of 128 million adults. While their numbers were increasing
during the past five years, they were also undergoing lifestyle
changes that have significant bearing on their buying habits.
In 1998 approximately 75% of the 50+ folks had no children at
home. Today, 80% have no children at home. Since 1998,
one-person households have increased from 20% to 27.1% percent
and two-person households increased from 45.9% to 49.1%. And
thanks to the aging of the baby boomers, there are more college
graduates among the 50+ group than there has ever been. In l998,
31.6% had one or more college degrees. In the last survey it was
As a demographic group, boomers have an impossibly sunny outlook
when it comes to aging, notes Cheryl Swanson in
"Marketing to Boomers? Keep These Five Keystones in Mind",
Chief Marketer, February 26 2006 (http://chiefmarketer.com/marketing_to_boomers_02262006/).
They don’t obsess about dying. Nor, by and large, do they
compulsively focus on their skin or indulge in extravagant
bodywork. Boomers simply want to live full lives unhindered by
aging. Ultimately they don’t feel old; they feel ready to live
life to the max. Here are the keystones of their philosophy--and
what those keystones mean to you as a marketer:
1. Enjoy—but make smarter choices.
Despite confronting health issues such as heart attacks and
diabetes, boomers aren’t willing to give up all their
pleasurable habits. Instead, they seek moderation in their
lives. Rather than giving up a favorite food, they might switch
to a low-fat version. Or if they love steak, they’ll settle for
a smaller portion.
2. Prioritize family ties.
Now that they have more time on their hands, boomers cherish
simple pleasures such as playing with their grandchildren. As
their views of life’s essentials evolve, they see time with
loved ones as more precious than ever. And those loved ones
include pets; boomers treat their pets like members of the
3. Explore a holistic attitude toward health.
Boomers are willing to experiment with natural medicine;
supplements and vitamins are popular remedies for the everyday
aches and pains they are beginning to experience as well as for
chronic conditions such as high cholesterol. Taking control over
their health is a resounding theme. From choosing organic
products to eating fresh foods, boomers do more than just see
their doctor regularly.
4. Carve out time for self-improvement.
While boomers may not obsess over their appearance, many make
exercise a routine part of their lifestyle. From gardening to
walking to chasing grandkids, boomers like to be active. They
also love to experiment by trying a new hobby and going back to
5. Give back to the community.
Now that they finally have some time to move through life at a
more leisurely pace, boomers feel compelled to devote more
energy to charities and to volunteer work rather than just
writing checks. It feeds [satisfies??
for spiritual fulfillment and makes them feel even more
connected to the community at large.
The Merrill Lynch New Retirement
Survey: A Perspective from the Baby Boomer Generation,
February 2005 reveals that a
majority of baby boomers think they will work during retirement,
but they won't necessarily be doing it for the money. When asked
why, here's what they said:
To stay mentally active: 67 percent*
To keep physically active: 57 percent
To be connected with others: 48 percent
For the health insurance: 45 percent
For new challenges: 37 percent
For the money: 37 percent
For a sense of identity: 36 percent
* Percent who answered "very important."
Three more predictions for the baby boomers in old age from
Cheryl Russell, editorial director, New Strategist Publications
and author of 100 Predictions for the Baby Boom writing
in the American Consumers Newsletter, January 10, 2006:
1. Boomers will be more alike than ever before. As boomers enter
their sixties and seventies, all 78 million will share one life
stage. Because of the lengthy 19-year span of the generation, it
has never before been so unified. In the past, the generation
straddled life stages: toddlers to teens, college students to
mid-career executives, parents to empty-nesters. As boomers
enter their sixties, the similarities will begin to outweigh the
differences. Their labour force status will be retired. Their
economic status will be reduced. Their family status will be
empty-nester. Their health status will be declining.
2. Boomers will be more powerful than ever before. Because of
their shared wants and needs, they will speak with one voice.
United in life stage, they will be a potent force in the voting
booth. As they give up the rat race, cooperation will replace
competition. The angry din of political polarization will
diminish. Moderate voices will be heard. For boomers, the top
issues will be the well being of younger generations (children
and grandchildren), health care, and Social Security. To the
surprise of many, Social Security will be their primary source
3. Boomers will rediscover their social conscience. As they
ponder their legacy, boomers will abandon the "all about me"
ethic. As they watch their children and grandchildren struggle
with many of the same issues they faced, they will roll up their
sleeves to help. By reaching out, they will become friendlier,
more tolerant and generous, more curious and open, more likely
to empathize with the underdog and less likely to side with the
top dog. They may even regain their sense of humor.
The relative health, wealth and skill of the baby boomers means
nothing less than the emergence of a new stage of life beyond