Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - April 2011 Edition, South Shore Senior News

Debunking More Boomer Myths

Age Stage: Understanding The Changing Lifestyles of Boomers & Seniors
by Laura Willis

In our previous two Age Stage articles, “2011: Put Your Money Where The Myths Aren’t,” we explained some of the reasons why marketers should look beyond six of the widely held Boomer myths. Now that Boomers have begun turning 65 in 2011, it makes sense to discuss three additional myths that businesses would be wise to ignore.

Myth #7:
Boomers are technologically challenged.

On the contrary, Boomers are comfortable with technology because they've grown up with it. In fact, Boomers were involved in the early creation of a lot of the technology we have today. 81 - 76% are active online users(younger to older Boomers respectively), 93% use e-mail, 71% shop online, 73% read news online, 83% have digital cameras and 88% have cell phones. Based on a Pew Research Center study just released this month, the rate of online social networking approximately quadrupled among Older Boomers 9% to 43%. So if you're not including a social networking component in your overall marketing strategy, you might want to reconsider.
Useful technology is key in the minds of Boomers. They enjoy things that make their lives easier, help them to connect with family, especially children and grandchildren(or in some cases their parents), or an item that takes into consideration their changing physical needs, while still being "cool". The iPad is proving to be a winner with Boomers due to its size and ease of use, and the fact that it fits in to a big part of Boomer leisure and creativity from learning music composition to enjoying videos or planning travel.

Myth #8:
Boomers are downsizing their homes.

In some cases that's true, but it's not the norm. Boomers are actually "right-sizing" based on their individual needs. Some want a home that will enable them to age-in-place, while others want space for elderly parents they need to care for, or "boomerang" kids who have come back home. 50% plan to buy a new home after retirement. 76% plan to live in either a same size home or a larger home. 79% prefer a single-story home over a two-story (15%) or split-level (7%). If you are a realtor, are you aware of the wide range of needs here and are you making it a point to understand your clients and learn what life stage they are in before making recommendations? If you are in the business of helping people to modify their homes to age-in-place, you may want to consider partnering up with realtors. With a few recommendations for modifications, they may be able to make that sale!

Myth #9:
Boomers are unhealthier than any generation before them.

Baby Boomers see health issues as a "natural" part of aging and feel confident that leading-edge therapies and science are going to keep them healthy and vital for years to come. Nearly 87% say they are in good, very good or excellent health, however over 1/2 say they suffer from one or more chronic conditions. Nearly 83% are interested in alternative or integrative medicine. If you are a professional in the health and wellness industries, are you taking advantage of this great opportunity for growth by tapping into the Boomer audience, and their emotional connection to staying younger and healthier longer? Are you telling a story they can resonate with? Don't they say that 50 is the new 40, and 60 the new 50?

We hope you are learning that the key to successfully reaching the Baby Boomer market is to forget the myths and focus on life stage issues instead. Review all aspects of your business and take into consideration how it can fulfill a variety of Boomer needs and you'll be positioned for success for years to come. Remember that you can reach Boomers in a variety of ways in both traditional and new media. We hope you'll look forward to next month's article where we will be focused on the #10 myth about Baby Boomers and advertising. We'll provide some do's and don't's to help you adjust your communications in order to connect with this audience of 76 million strong.

To read our previous articles on Boomer myths go to the December and January issues online.

-posted by Laura Willis