Far from dwindling into the mists of irrelevance, Baby Boomers are the largest demographic segment today and their influence shows no sign of waning. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers account for one-third of the U.S. population, spend about $2 trillion annually, and generally expect to stay in the workforce far past the age of 65. As the leading edge of the cohort move into what once was assumed to be retirement age, they continue to change traditional ideas about age, work and leisure activities, stubbornly maintaining their hold on youthfulness if not precisely “youth,” and in turn influencing the attitudes and expectations of the generations in their wake. People age 45-64 will soon become the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, as Census Bureau estimates project their numbers will swell from 77 million in 2006 to upwards of 82 million by 2030. Yet despite these huge numbers, marketers traditionally have lumped the “Me Generation” into one great mass, often assuming that just because they can (mostly) remember the ‘60s, Boomers represent a relatively homogenous cohort, essentially a generation of ex-hippies longing to return to the days of tie-dye and patchouli.
In this report Packaged Facts dispels common misconceptions about the Baby Boomer generation, examining the surprising diversity of the cohort across demographic segments. Drawing on uniquely cross-tabulated Simmons Market Research Bureau survey data from Fall 2007, along with government and private sector data sources, this report examines common attitudes and motivations linking the cohort, particularly their devotion to hard work and youthfulness. At the same time it delineates how cultural and financial divides inform the diverse ways in which Boomer segments respond to those commonalities. Unlike previous reports, this update foregrounds broad realms of Boomer experience rather than discrete retail channels, and analyzes how marketers across industries have responded to the multiplicity of values and purchasing behaviors within those experiential categories. The report gives special attention to growing environmental or green concerns among the cohort and their use of Internet research and networking services to pursue their goals, while also setting the discussion in an international context.
An overview of Boomer attitudes and spending trends introduces the following lifestyle chapters:
- Demographics and Lifestyles. Segmentation by age bracket, marital status, ethnicity, gender, politics, education and employment income. Analysis of financial and cultural divide between leading edge Boomers (age 55-64) and younger cohort boomers (age 45-54), with emphasis on attitudes about Social Security and retirement.
- Health and Anti-aging. From skin-plumping therapies to nutraceuticals, an exploration of current and developing technologies to combat the aging process. Parallel analysis of widespread health concerns and conditions that tend to contradict generalizations that Boomers are the healthiest generation ever.
- Boomers at Home. Life stage, physical limitations, and career interests inform Boomers’ desire to “age in place.” Finances and family obligations, including boomerang children and elder care, suggest a shift to greater long-term practicality, but without sacrifice of style. Green construction and universal design gain appeal.
- Boomers at Work. Most Boomers plan to work past traditional retirement age, not only because they need the money or the health insurance, but because they enjoy being challenged and engaged. Many will shift into part-time work or begin entirely new careers or entrepreneurial ventures. Few imagine that Social Security benefits will outlive them.
- Boomers on the Road. Practicality, comfort, and eco-friendliness drive Boomer vehicle purchase, though style and luxury maintain a strong hold. Muscle cars and motorcycles tempt the young at heart. Customizable vacations slake thirst for experience, learning, adventure. Multigenerational and single-gender options expand.