It’s been long known that the baby boomers are the most prosperous of all the “labeled” generations. The 55-64 year old market is fast becoming the largest segment of the population, yet is often neglected by main stream media such as television. In fact, they're rapidly exiting the 18-24 or the 25-49 demos that advertisers so desperately want to attract, as even the youngest boomers (born in 1964) will turn 47 this year.
But, things are about to change. According to a May 13th article published in the New York Times, the boomer generation accounts for the lowest rate of unemployment and the highest median weekly income. These consumers are spending and they are spending more money than any other groups in areas such as home improvement, casual dining and cosmetics. Boomers say they plan to delay moving into assisted living and independent living communities as long as possible, leading many to make investments in home modifications for aging in place and technology that makes it safer to do so.
Long gone are the days of the medical alert bracelets and the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up,” slogan. Today, non-traditional companies, like Sketchers, Kelloggs, 5-Hour Energy drink, are creating marketing campaigns that cater to the non-sedentary, healthy lifestyle of the older population. In fact, Jeep has included text in its print campaign running in AARP’s bi-monthly magazine that reads, “The grandkids say I’m ‘really cool now’ but what they don’t know is I always was.”
The emerging 55-plus consumer is far more comfortable with technology than prior generations and won't stand for a sacrifice in lifestyle trends should they choose to move to a retirement community. Boomers are just as likely to make purchases like high-definition TVs, iPads and smartphones as the often-targeted 18 to 24 demographic. Broadband internet service is a necessity for senior living providers seeking to attract the aging boomer population. Independent living facilities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) must evolve with these changing demands in order to remain competitive.
A shift or a change in perspective?
But, is this really a shift? Or is it just a change in perspective? Advertisers have been marketing to this same demographic for years, only now they are in age group that has always been considered less than optimal for such marketing campaigns. Just a few years ago, most of these same boomers were in the prime demographics of parents, business executives, heads of households and decision makers. They were the ones who were buying cars, electronics, and toys for their children. They were the ones, before the economy faltered, who were going to restaurants, sending their children to college, buying new furniture. Now, a few years later, with the economy still in turmoil, corporations may be realizing they have neglected the same group that has once helped boost their profits.
Television networks stay ahead of the game
So, with television’s new fall line-up including shows geared for an older audience, media campaigns are gearing up for a “new” demo. Patricia McDonough, senior vice president for insights, analysis and policy for Nielsen, said, “35 to 64 is becoming a relatively common target now.” This is probably due to the fact that the big broadcast networks are seeing a rise in the median age of their viewers. Each of the big four (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) have seen their average viewer increase in age by three years since 2006. Even shows like Fox’s “American Idol” which had long been considered a younger person’s show has seen an increase in median age from 32.1 to 47.2 over its 10 year run.
Be prepared this fall. TV is about to do a 180. Networks are going to be looking for shows that entice a much broader segment of the population. In fact, Alan Wurtzel, the president of research for NBC Universal, said he made the programmers in the company aware of the attractiveness of the 55-plus audience. He described it as “one of the things we look at when we look at pilots.” The network has already renewed “Harry’s Law" with 62-year-old Kathy Bates and has ordered a new series, “Playboy,” a drama set in the 1960s.
This fall, it’s probable that you will be seeing more boomers on the small screen where silver is becoming the new gold.