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Cynopsis Media presents: Demographics of Baby Boomersa
Good morning. It's still Wednesday, October 17, 2012, and this is a special edition on the Demographics of Baby Boomers. This special report offers the latest information about this segment - their buying power, their social media and online use as well as their television viewing habits and additionally offers a case for marketers to rethink this valuable demographic.
By Lisa Ball
It's amazing to think the Baby Boomer Generation is a couple of years away from being outside the vaunted A18-49 demographic. People born between the years 1946 to 1964 are classified as Baby Boomers and as of this year the youngest of them turn 48 years old.
When the Baby Boomers turned 18 in 1964, their generation became advertisers' most desirable demographic: A18-49, so says a comprehensive 2012 report conducted by Nielsen and BoomAgers titled Introducing Boomers Marketing's Most Valuable Generation.
What happens when Baby Boomers transcend the A18-49 demo? Do they suddenly become obsolete? Hardly. From the start, Baby Boomers were born in a post-World War II period when the country breathed a collective sigh of relief and became giddy. Life was good again, people used happy colors to decorate their homes - did you have a canary yellow kitchen growing up or a willow green tiled bathroom? The years following WWII perhaps exemplifying America best by the classic TV show, Leave It to Beaver - was a period of unprecedented optimism and economic largesse. As a result, people born in the Baby Boom years became the most influential generation to date in America's history when it comes to embracing brands and spending money. Today, Baby Boomers consist of 80 million Americans and the 50+ segment totals close to 100 million consumers.
Brent Bouchez, Founder of Agency FiveO , a New York City-based advertising firm specializing in the 50+ market, says it is also important to consider that not only is the original A18-49 demo shifting older, they are taking with them $2.5 trillion in spending power. That is $2.5 trillion. "The mistake most advertisers make is they start with the assumption that people 50+ want to be younger again," says Bouchez. "Boomers are 'The Big Fish'" metaphor that advertisers are seeking because they have survived, learned a lot, are wiser and more experienced and their wallets are bigger."
The spending power of Baby Boomers matches their population size and is growing. The 50+ segment is projected to increase by +34% between now and 2030, per Nielsen's report. During the 1980s, Baby Boomers entered their prime earning years and combined with the availability of credit cards, they ushered in a period of spending and consumerism in America which continues today. Nielsen's report further points out, that as Baby Boomers age and come out of their chief earning years, they will move into a lifestyle focused on spending money. Baby Boomers will have the most money and the time in which to spend it, and being relatively young, 48 to 66, they have many key spending years ahead of them. Furthermore, the life expectancy of the average American has increased by 30 years in the last century to 76.8 years as of 2000, compared to 47.3 years in 1900.
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So, if the A18-49 demo was so important to advertisers yesterday, it stands to reason the Baby Boomers as they age should still be sought after. How do advertisers reach Baby Boomers?
One primary way is and always has been television. Baby Boomers grew up with television. This is the generation that has had TV sets as part of their living rooms and lives from the beginning. As kids, Baby Boomers couldn't wait for their weekly installment of Gunsmoke (the #1 TV show in October 1958 when the Baby Boomer was 12 years old). Today, Nielsen's report says Baby Boomers are one of television's top viewing groups and on average they spend 174 hours a month watching television just behind the 65+ crowd that watches 205 hours of television per month. During primetime, Baby Boomers enjoy a heavy dose of procedural cop shows, popular comedies, NFL football and some celebrity dancing competition to spice things up. Looking at a snapshot from the week of September 24, 2012, the top 10 broadcast network shows, based on Nielsen among the P50-64 segment are:
CBS: NCIS: Los Angeles
NBC: Sunday Night Football
CBS: Person of Interest
CBS: The Big Bang Theory
ABC: Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars
CBS: Two and a Half Men
CBS: Blue Bloods
"TV was made for Boomers; it reflects their lives then and has moved with them," says Agency FiveO's Bouchez. 'TV is irrevocably the best way to reach Boomers who watch TV because they like it."
Hallmark Channel , part of Crown Media Family Networks has its share of Baby Boomer viewers though Bill Abbott, President/CEO emphasizes his network delivers a broad spectrum of viewer demographics for its advertisers. "Hallmark Channel offers an array of quality entertainment that appeals to a broad audience - from younger generations to Baby Boomers to more senior viewers," says Abbott. "We have seen marketers embrace the aging Boomers... in fact you can see it in many of their commercials. Examples we have all seen include Boomers driving the newest car, applying beauty and cosmetics to retaining a healthy look or making good financial and insurance decisions. Boomers are becoming a more important audience every day. As a result of this shift, we are increasingly seeing advertising dollars in the auto, cosmetic and financial/insurance categories move to networks like Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel that have a hold on and resonate with this demographic."
Another cable network, RLTV which launched in late 2008 as a 24-hour network is actively seeking the 50+ consumer and embraces this "Big Fish" market, describing itself as the only cable network that provides information and entertainment programming for the 50+ individual. As of November 1, RLTV will debut a rebrand campaign along with the new tagline: Experience Matters. Paul FitzPatrick, President/CEO of RLTV says his network is focused on the 50+ target and produces programming specifically serving their varied interests. "RLTV is unique. We produce programming focused on health and wellness, relationships, transformation, exploration and, of course, finance and political and public policy issues," says FitzPatrick. "There is a great value in a consumer group that thinks independently, loves brands, has the discretionary money to spend and loves to spend it - not only on themselves but for others. But they want to be spoken to with programming that is relevant, inspiring and respectful."
FitzPatrick pointed to a recent study fielded by RLTV with research firm Millward Brown that asked 2000 adults 45+ a range of questions regarding their television viewing preferences and advertising attitudes. This study revealed a network like RLTV commands greater affection and engagement because of their programming and marketing efforts to the Boomer generation. In addition, 50+ TV viewers crave programming that is made for them and their lives. "More importantly, this study also showed these consumers are more apt to pay attention to the advertising when it's delivered in programming that is relevant to them," adds FitzPatrick.
To emphasize the power of the 50+ market even more, FitzPatrick says out of the 100 million people who are 50 or older, 65 million are grandparents and 11,000 people are turning 50 years old every day. This 50+ generation will inherit $12 trillion in the next 20 years and they control 75% of the US wealth. "This group intends to keep spending money and doing interesting and fulfilling things that cost money until the day they die," says FitzPatrick. "This powerful consumer group knows that they've got a good 30 years left to live and they have the desire and the where-with-all to make those years the best they've ever had."
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In addition to being loyal TV watchers, Baby Boomers are avid users of new technology and the internet. Younger generations continue to be the first adopters though once the technology goes mainstream Baby Boomers are fueling the growth. According to Nielsen, Baby Boomers represent one-third of all online and social media users, and another third of these users, roughly 29 million, are considered heavy online users with more than 8 million spending 20+ hours a week online. Consider this: 53% of Baby Boomers are on Facebook and the 50+ segment spends nearly $7 billion online. Nielsen's report further reveals a sub-segment. The Techno Boomers, a group that is actively seeking advanced technologies such as smartphones and Twitter. This sub-segment is 40% more likely to own an iPhone, is as active as the average consumer on Twitter and is also using business-related sites such as LinkedIn at a heavy level. One caveat to note though, Baby Boomers may be the second heaviest users of the internet, but they watch far less video online than younger people falling in the Generation X segment (those born between 1965-1976) and the Millennials/Gen Y segment (those born between 1977-1995).
RLTV's FitzPatrick says, "We are also finding the 50+ audience and Boomers especially, are enthusiastic adapters of the latest technology and media trends. Since they have the most disposable income of any demographics, we are continually evolving our multiplatform efforts to reach them - online, which we view as a very important complement to our linear network, VOD and of course a wide variety of social and digital media apps."
The best way to sum up today's Baby Boomers and the 50+ segment is they cannot be defined the same as previous generations. "On average, people in this age group believe they are 9-10 years younger than their chronological years," points out RLTV's FitzPatrick. "They think and act as much more active consumers than prior generations. They are open to many new avenues, pursuits, products and services. Now is the time to RETHINK 50+ and embrace this remarkable 100 million and growing audience."
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