December 17, 2014: Baby Boomers Turn 50
My “baby” sister turned 50 last week. She and the other Baby Boomers born in December 1964 are the last Boomers to hit that mark. To many of us, this is a momentous occasion—the end of one era, the start of another.
Truthfully, 50 isn’t what it used to be. When we were kids, 50 seemed old. Today, according to a Pew poll taken a few years ago, the older you get, the later you define old. While 18-29 year olds think 60 is old (it’s not!), seniors (age 65+) think you’re old when you hit 74.
This is significant news for marketers. You shouldn’t consider the over-50 set old—and you shouldn’t be marketing to them that way. My sister, as an example, works full-time, still has a kid in college, another living at home prepping for her post-graduate studies, and takes care of our 81-year-old mother, who lives with her. She, and millions like her, are looking for affordable and convenient time-saving solutions.
In fact, the younger Boomers and the older Gen Xers have a lot in common. Just because those young Boomers have turned 50 doesn’t mean they’re not still worried about remodeling their homes, putting kids through college, juggling work and home, staying up on current trends and making time to enjoy themselves.
While I don’t think “50 is the new 30,” I do believe that for many, it’s the “new 40.” And that sentiment carries on up the line. Most people I know in their early to mid-60s feel and act at least a decade younger than that—and spend their money accordingly. If you market to 60-year-old women today the way businesses marketed to your grandmother or mother when she was 60, you are going to lose customers.
The key for many entrepreneurs is to expand your offerings—broaden them to target multiple generations of people. Learn a lesson from the cosmetic companies. They know how to create essentially the same product in various formulations to fit the specific needs of their target markets, and most offer several products that appeal to customers of all ages. My mother, sister and niece often buy products from the same cosmetics brands and shop at the same stores. Segmenting some product or service offerings for your customers, while providing others that appeal to all of them, enables you to reach a bigger potential market and make more money.