Baby Boom Women


Baby Boom Women

Born between 1945 and 1964, the Baby Boom generation (a.k.a. Boomers), are approximately 80.2 million strong and represent over a quarter of the total U.S. population. Every year, starting in 1996, over four million members of this group reach age 50and this wave will continue for the next decade . With the biggest monetary advantages of any generation in history, and their ensuing demand for new products and services, the over-50 market is hugely impacting every industry.

As with Gen X, no single label fits the Boomer group, mainly because its members were born over such a wide span of eventful years . The Cold War, the introduction and development of television, the Kennedy assassination, the Beatles, the Vietnam War and Watergate are just a few of the defining events of this generation's formative years.

Of the generations represented in society today, Boomers have lived during some extremely exciting transition years. More than twice as many of these women graduated from college by age 24 than did their predecessors; and more Boomer women work than women of either generation before or after. Furthermore, research by Allstate Financial in 2003 revealed that, as the large generation of Boomer women moves toward traditional retirement age, 71 percent of all Boomers don't expect to ever stop working completely. Interestingly, that study showed that women were more likely to say they'll keep working for the social interactions, whereas men for the job satisfaction.

The introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 enabled Boomer women, in general, to postpone marriage until their mid-twenties or beyond. Because many of this generation delayed marriage and then experienced high divorce rates, a large number of them have lived independently for years. In fact, while Boomers have been the most divorced generation, they were also the generation that made the two-income household a norm. [14] These go-getter women are used to keeping their own homes , managing their own money and tending to emergencies by themselves .

BABY BOOMERS' BUYING FILTERS

The industrious women of the Baby Boom generation have staked their claim and are living full and very different lives from their parents. Few of these women are stay-at-homes, and the world is probably a better place for their gumption. Some specific Boomer characteristics that filter their view of life include:

Interests, not age. These women are restless and won't be defined by age alone. As Boomer women get older and their grown children leave home, their health and vitality , creativity, family and friends , and work and avocation take on even more importance. They feel there are too many fun and exciting things left to do!

Stressed and time-starved. Given all their roles and interests from holding professional careers to managing mom duties and carrying the bulk of household and childrearing responsibilitiesthese women could easily be the most stressed-out group in America. Yet, they survive because of another Boomer characteristic: a concern for their own health and a willingness to spend time and money on their personal needs.

Caregiving. Many Boomer women are simultaneously taking care of elderly parents and their children. One statistic estimates that Boomers will spend about the same number of years caring for their parents as they spend rearing their children! Furthermore, most Boomer women (ages 3954, in particular), agree that their kids have a significant impact on the brands they buy. [15]

Confident and optimistic. Many professional Boomer women say that fifty feels like an optimistic, can-do stage of life. They are establishing second careers or using virtual offices and computer technology to reinvent the common perceptions of retirement.

Active and healthy . Boomer women tend to feel younger and are likely to live longer than the women of any previous generation. They seek rejuvenation and relaxation and will come up with the cash to get it. Many women in this group exercise daily, have regular massages and practice meditation or yoga, for example. In fact, the November 2001 issue of American Demographics reported that 55 percent of current health club members (or about eighteen million) were forty or older.

REFLECTING BOOMER WOMEN IN YOUR BRAND

Make no assumptions about this active and tradition-challenging group of women. Valuing self-fulfillment, self-improvement and self-empowerment, Boomer women have been doing their own thing for years.

Interestingly, aging Boomer women who we might think had long since settled on their brands of choice may not be as loyal as we supposed. In fact, one report found that even as brand loyalty was eroding across all age segments, the steepest drops were occurring among older consumers. [16] So, you'll need to stay on your toes and take nothing for granted about this group.

Some key truths to remember in crafting marketing messages that will land within a Boomer woman 's field of vision include:

Forget senior discounts . Many of the older Boomer women feel that "senior discounts" or "mature" pitches don't apply to them. The women in this age group will continue to deny the number and instead seek products that reflect how young they still feel. You'll need to find a new way to provide a discount that doesn't remind these women of their silver hair.

Support connectedness. A sense of purpose is imperative to Boomer women, and they see any power they've developed in their lives as a tool for sharing with peers or for pursuing their own more socially connected goals.

Promote youthful appearance. Products will strike a resonant chord that support youthful appearance and physical upkeep for female Boomers, without going overboard on beauty for beauty's sake. Whether we like it or not, women more than men are generally judged on appearance, so maintaining a youthful vibrancy through the onset of menopausal physical changes is important to Boomer women.

Be a knowledge source. Present the inside scoop to this segment of women and be loved for it. The more knowledge Boomer women have, the more empowered they feel, and the more confident they will be to try new products and explore new industries.

Get to the point. Keep ads and direct mail short and sweet. Boomer women are grateful to companies whose marketing copy first establishes a benefit and a need and only then proceeds to a comprehensive pitch. Whether through your Web site, catalog or toll-free number, enable these busy, knowledgeable women to quickly obtain information and order your products day or night.

BABY BOOM INDUSTRY STUDY: PERSONAL GROWTH

Baby Boom women are fueling an enormous personal development industry that covers all areas of life, from finances, health, and career to spirituality and food. The more successful personal growth brands that serve Boomer women tend to be anchored by a key expert or personality. This spokesperson can become more real and more relevant in women's lives through a multichanneled, integrated marketing approach that includes books, magazines, syndicated columns , TV and radio shows, personal tours and e-newsletters.

Oprah Winfrey is the epitome of personal growth leaders , as we all couldn't help but notice. Starting out as a traditional talk show host in the 1980s, she has since become a huge influence on women, particularly on Boomers' self-development. Yet, she has also used her success to expand that reach. Through her television show ( Oprah ), magazine ( O, The Oprah Magazine ), Web site, and personal tours, Oprah has enlisted emerging leaders from a variety of fields to deliver their expertise to her audience and subscribers.

Touted as "The women's personal growth guide for the new century," O magazine well represents Oprah's relationships with these experts. The magazine's roster of columnists include: financial guru Suze Orman on how emotions affect personal finances; self-help author Phillip McGraw, Ph.D., on relationships; Julie Morgenstern on getting organized in every area of life; Martha Beck on personal life coaching; and the radio airwave's Satellite Sisters, who provide five different perspectives on random topics. Oprah has singlehandedly (along with her large staff) simplified the personal growth industry by collecting together the finest experts into a one-stop resource for women seeking that help in their lives.

CONNECTING WITH BOOMER WOMEN: LESSONS FROM OPRAH WINFREY

The overall success of Oprah's television show, Web site and magazine derives from the authentic human tone they take in delivering information that almost every woman, and many men, can use. A few more specific lessons to learn from Oprah are:

Staff up with members of the community you serve. Oprah's media empire is an excellent example of a brand that succeeded because the founders and staff were themselves members of the community to which they catered. Oprah's staff of Boomers and older Gen Xers regularly gather to discuss what is top of mind in their own lives, and often these issues are the very ones that are most relevant for their audience.

Stay close to your audience and include them in the story. Oprah's staff keep their fingers on the pulse of their audience using e-mail and their Web site. The Web site section "Be on the show" lists show topics that are currently in development and invites audience members to share their own stories and insights about these topics. Those who e-mail in their personal stories are often included in the program and asked to join the audience for the day.

People connect with people, not programs. Give a face to some of life's most challenging topics by developing expert personalities and using them to educate the masses. Keep the content specific and the language relatable, and deliver the information in the context of real lives.

Dialogue and conversation are crucial. Oprah and her staff have taken the lid off virtually all topics formerly taboo with their audiences. Oprah and her staff are ready to connect, relate, discuss and solve problems. The key to maintaining the dialogue among women is to condense the discussion and make it fun, without taking them for extended periods away from the other demands of their lives. Personal coach Cheryl Richardson, author of Life Makeovers and frequent guest on Oprah, has developed a great example of this in action: Her Web site, Cherylrichardson.com, has registered over one thousand "LM [Life Makeover] Groups," whose members meet in person to discuss the topics in Richardson's books and newsletters. [17]

Integrate your channels and understand your market's comfort level with technology. Oprah's Web site is evidence that her team understands something simple that a lot of other content companies have missed: Many Boomer women do not have the Internet bandwidth or the patience to watch a video clip online. Instead Oprah offers content from her TV shows in quick, easy-access slide shows.

[14] See http://www.MyPrimeTime.com, San Francisco, February, 2002.

[15] Fall 2002 National Consumer Study (New York: Simmons Market Research Bureau, Inc., 2002), http://www.smrb.com.

[16] Marsha Cohen, editor, Marketing to the 50-Plus Population (New York: EPM Communications, Inc., 2002), http://www.epmcom.com.

[17] Cheryl Richardson, Life Makeovers (New York: Broadway Books, 2000). Also see http://www.cherylrichardson.com.