Baby Boomers

Who cares if they’re on a diet, consumers of this dominant demographic segment have been known to treat themselves—as well as their loved ones—to premium quality (possibly nostalgic) candy.
Sure they’re getting older, but baby boomers are still the biggest group of consumers in the United States—and more importantly—they have the most money to spend.
By 2010, the Census Bureau estimates that roughly half of the nation’s population will be older than 40, up from 43.4 percent as of the most recent census. Currently, about four million people a year are turning 50, a trend that will continue for years as the boomers—people born between 1946 and 1964—age.
And their affluence can’t be ignored. Collectively, those 46 and older control more than half of the nation’s discretionary income, and they own more than three-quarters of the nation’s financial wealth, according to Mature Marketing and Research, a Boston-based firm.
Experts say that to pass over this generation now because it is no longer a “cool” one, is a grave mistake. “Since World War II, this generation has been like an elephant going through a snake,” says Rich Hollander, president of Buxton, a customer market research firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. “Whatever lifestyle change they go through has changed our economy. When they were in elementary school in the ‘50s and ‘60s, there were teacher shortages; when they were of college-age, there was a big boom in education. Now this generation is preparing for retirement, and they are still the most important economic driver in America.”
So obviously the biggest mistake marketers can make with this group is to abandon it.  “It’s ironic that as consumer groups age they tend to spend less because they’re ignored,” adds Hollander. “There are so many opportunities to market to baby boomers better because they do not just buy for themselves any more, they buy for their parents, their kids, and now even their grandkids.”
This point is particularly relevant for candy marketers who may assume that baby boomers are always on a diet and don’t consume treats as readily as the younger generations. While as a rule they are concerned with a healthy lifestyle and with their appearance, they have not been known to deprive themselves or the ones they love. Baby boomers are sharers and gift givers, especially with what they perceive to be quality merchandise, according to Rodger Roeser, vice president of public relations for Justice & Young, a marketing firm based in Cincinnati.
“More than any other, this is the share generation,” says Roeser. “They have the money and the inclination.”
Hollander would like to see more “special occasion” candy targeted to them, and not necessarily for their own consumption.
What might work particularly well with baby boomer adults is nostalgia candy, especially if it’s well packaged and designed to hit an emotional chord that takes the boomer back to his or her childhood.
As for target media, analysts say that the boomer generation tends to read more financial magazines and newspapers, and watch more financial cable shows than any other group. They also are big on travel. Therefore, programs like CNN and MSNBC, and magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week and Travel & Leisure all have this generation’s attention. Boomers grew up on television, according to Roeser, so many are just as fond of network TV, particularly the news. Newspapers, in general, also are well read by boomers. n
Measuring the Market (ages 40-59)
Population Size: 74 million
Percent of the Population: 26.1%
Percent Growth Forecast by 2010 (ages 45-64): 29.7%
Merchandising Mandates
• Remember they’re not just buying for themselves. They’re giving gifts to their parents, kids, other boomers and even grandkids. Be their gift candy (and gift candy retailer) of choice.
• They value health and fitness and will respond well to "functional" candy and energy bars. Dark chocolate, with all its verified health claims, is a prime treat for boomer women, especially those who are pre-menopausal.
• Nostalgic candy will strike a chord with this crowd. Especially if it’s graphically styled the way they remember it from childhood.  Put it in a nifty tin, and they’ll present it as a gift to all their boomer friends.
• Retailers that solve boomers’ problems (such as with a special candy/gift sections) are preferred. They will also spend more in the store if shopping there helps to solve gift-giving dilemmas.
Ages Now: 40-58
Outlook: Optimistic
Work Ethic: Driven
View of Authority: Love/Hate
Relationships: Personal Gratification
Life Perspective: Team
Compelling Messages of Their Formative Era:
"Be anything you want to be."
"Change the world."
"Work well with others."
"Live up to expectations."
"Duck and cover."
Source: Claire Raines Associates (Claire Raines is the author of "Connecting Generations.")