The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

March 6, 2014

Susan Miller: Here's to boomer power

Perhaps you’ve heard that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America. While the Fab Four’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was a pop culture milestone, there’s another significant half-century observance affecting millions of people this year. The “babies” of the baby boomer generation are turning 50.

Born between 1946 and 1964, the baby boomers have maintained a relentless influence on this nation for decades that shows few signs of letting up. In many ways, boomers have grown up but refused to “age up.” Consider that model Christy Brinkley recently graced the pages of People magazine at 60 and actress Jessica Lange is the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty at age 64.

But baby boomers are about much more than a youthful appearance. For businesses, they represent a powerful and profitable market for companies who understand their behaviors and attitudes. Consider the following:

◆ 33 percent of Twitter users are 55 or older. Since 2012, Twitter users age 65-54 have increased by 79 percent, and their numbers on Facebook and Google Plus are also rising.

◆ Baby boomers have spending power. Studies indicate they command about 70 percent of American spending power today.

◆ A Nielsen study referred to baby boomers as “The Most Valuable Generation.” Boomers control about $2.3 trillion in annual spending.

Just because baby boomers use social media and spend money doesn’t mean businesses can market to them like other groups. Whether buying cars or candy, baby boomers buy differently than their millennial, Generation X and Greatest Generation counterparts.

First of all, most boomers grew up talking, not texting. We often use our mouths instead of our thumbs when making transactions and like to look people in the eye when seeking information. Interpersonal communication is important to boomers.

Baby boomers value the concept of “genuine and reliable.” Access to a “real human” will be more effective than offering a fancy “app”. Mean what you say and follow through with the promises you make. Because many of us boomers have raised teenagers, we can see through the smoke and mirrors even though we may need to don our “readers” for fine print.

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