By Karen Axelton

photo boomerMy dad has long been convinced that the next big wave of business startups will be seniors starting businesses. Looks like he’s been  right: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, according to the Kauffman Foundation, Americans age 55 to 64 have posted the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity for the past 10 years.

The Journal took a look at some senior entrepreneurs, many of whom have found their niches targeting people in their own age group. Many do so because they feel no one else cares about or understands their age group.

Entrepreneurs cited in the article include a woman who helps clients deal with Medicare paperwork, a woman with a memoir-writing service and a man who coaches seniors on how to start businesses. “The aging boomer is the ideal customer,” says Jennifer Campbell, the memoir writer.

Statistics bear her out. In a recent Ipsos Mendelsohn survey of affluent adults (household incomes $100,000 or higher) baby boomers were still America’s wealthiest generation; their annual spending power is estimated at over $2 trillion.

Matthew Taylor, a consumer market analyst at Datamonitor, which recently did a survey of boomers, said size and affluence make boomers a market to be reckoned with and noted that boomers–especially “empty nesters”—are still likely to upgrade and buy premium products despite the recession.

If you’re targeting boomers, realize they are still price-sensitive and want value. Yes, they’ll spend more—but only if they’re getting quality.

Within the boomer cohort, an especially good market to target is boomer men. Author and marketing consultant Brent Green, writing in MediaPost’s Engage:Boomers e-newsletter, notes, “nearly 6,000 baby boomer men turn 50 every day and a boomer male turns 60 about every 15 seconds.”

Boomer men have “transformed every life stage they’ve occupied,” writes Green, who cites studies from the National Marketing Institute showing that boomer men have been spending discretionary dollars despite the recession—a trend he believes will continue  as we move towards recovery. “Boomer men are changing the meaning of aging,” writes Green, who predicts that as they pass 50,  boomer men will continue to “acquire more.”