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The Baby Boom Generation: Still Fiercely Independent in All Sub Categories - Tom Meyer-KSL Media

November 14, 2012
Tom Meyer

Published: November 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM GMT
Last Updated: November 14, 2012 at 12:42 PM GMT

The Baby Boom generation comprises nearly one quarter of the U.S. population. Collectively, these 76 million people represent a spending power of about $2.3 trillion and consume more than 1/3 of packaged goods in America.

With numbers like these, keeping Baby Boomers on your marketing radar makes more sense now than ever. Targeting them, though, is no simple task.

In broad terms, Baby Boomers may share a number of traits. Many are highly educated, largely employed, and at the peak of their earning power. In addition, more than half of them own their own homes. However, they are far from a single, homogeneous group. Some Baby Boomers have had to put their Empty Nester dreams on hold as economic pressure has caused many of their children to move back in or not leave home in the first place.

An interesting way of segmenting Baby Boomers is looking at how the recession and the state of our economy has affected consumer outlook. Using statistical analysis of attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles, Mintel, an award-winning provider of market intelligence, has identified three unique and evenly sized groups of Baby Boomers. Each must be targeted specifically.

Marketers sometimes make the mistake of lumping age, geography or economic cohorts in the same bucket. Successful targeting involves communicating with Baby Boomers on multiple levels through different media channels that allows you to speak directly to the specific needs of each segment.

My company, KSL Media, has kept Mintel's Baby Boomer segments in mind when developing our media programs for clients.

1. The Stressed Outs (36% of the group)

Members of this sector are predominantly Hispanic (47%), have lower educational attainment (high school or less, 49%; some college, 39%), and moderate to low household incomes (less than $75K on average). Half are unemployed or unable to work (50%).

The Stressed Outs say they have more financial and emotional stress, more responsibilities, and less free time. Yet despite personal financial stress, they are likely to feel optimistic about the economy and trusting towards U.S. political leaders.

Despite generally lower incomes, members of this segment, particularly Hispanics, are an incredibly brand loyal group. According to recent Nielsen data, Hispanics are just as likely to buy name brands and private labels as the general market in all consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories.

The Stressed Outs are heavy TV viewers who tend to watch daytime talk/variety, primetime documentaries, reality shows and sitcoms. Their preferred cable networks include BET, GSN, Lifetime, Syfy, TV Guide, and TV Land. They favor classic hits, Spanish AC, and tropical radio formats. This group tends to read home service, women's interest, and fishing/hunting magazines. They are light Internet users and are the least likely to have a smartphone.

What this means for marketers: Although The Stressed Outs have lower levels of education and income, they still are a valuable target. Consumer packaged goods marketers need to reach this significant subset of the overall Baby Boom segment. A growing segment of them (11%) have household income of $100k+. They are valuable because of their brand loyalty.

2.The Economic Optimists (34% of the group)

Members of this sector are more likely to be non-white (52%) and have at least a college degree (38-40%). The Economic Optimists have more free time and healthier lifestyles. They are also likely to feel financially secure and better about their relationships.

The Economic Optimists are likely to belong to clubs and organizations, to have life-long close friendships, to have active community involvement, and to donate to charities regularly. They are apt to feel in control of their finances, to feel optimistic about the economy, to trust government leaders, and to believe that the U.S. is well-respected.

Economic Optimists are moderate TV viewers, who tend to enjoy reality competitions and scripted dramas. Their preferred cable networks include A&E, Planet Green, Sundance, and news networks. They are moderate radio listeners, who favor news, NPR, and jazz formats. Economic Optimists tend to read health, travel, business/finance, and women's fashion magazines. They are moderate Internet users who are the most likely to check reviews of mobile/technology before purchasing.

What this means for marketers: Clearly this group is an important secondary target. Brand marketers must be aware of the media outlets that this non-white majority consumes and plan accordingly.

3.The Healthy Affluents (31% of the group)

The Healthy Affluents are less likely to be Hispanic (21%) or non-white (16%). They trend toward those with college degrees. People within this segment are likely to have household incomes of $50K+, with the highest proportion having household incomes of $100K or more (39%).

The Healthy Affluents have more free time and a healthier lifestyle. They also are also likely to have health insurance or a health savings account. Members of this category are likely to be active in their community, and to donate regularly to charities.

A recent study showed that 8 of the top 10 websites of 18-34 year-olds were just as popular with Baby Boomers. While they still read newspapers, magazines and books, they can just as easily be found using computers and smart phones. The Healthy Affluents are adept at adopting new technology and have the funds to purchase new electronic devices – from iPads and iPods to big screen HD TVs and DVRs.

Healthy Affluents are moderate-to-light TV viewers and prefer professional and college sports, as well as entertainment specials. Their preferred cable networks include AMC, Bloomberg, Fox News, Science Channel, and The Weather Channel. They are moderate radio listeners, often choosing news/talk, adult contemporary, and sports formats. The Healthy Affluents tend to read outdoor recreation, airline, and business/finance publications and are moderate Internet users. Among all the segments of the Baby Boom population, they are the most likely to check for news on a mobile phone.

What this means for marketers: Although The Healthy Affluents are a highly profitable customer base, a majority of them feel overlooked by most of the advertising on TV, radio, print, and outdoor. Sure, Baby Boomers can recall Woodstock and traditional radio is important to reach them, but agencies shouldn't neglect the new media touch points playing an increasingly important role in their new lives.

More than any other segment of the U.S. population, Baby Boomers have more money and time to partake in travel, hobbies, and indulgences that include luxury items such as jewelry, cars, home entertainment, gourmet foods, collectibles, fashion, and much more.

It is important to speak to the mindsets within the overall category. Media agencies must develop innovative plans to communicate with this diverse and relatively affluent audience. Effective marketers know that Baby Boomers are not all the same, and their media plans should reflect that reality.

Tom Meyer is KSL Media's Director of Media Research. He focuses on strengthening the agency's market research capabilities and improving the tools used to create consumer centric media solutions for clients.

About KSL Media

Founded in 1981, KSL Media is one of the first independent media services companies in America and specializes in helping entrepreneurial companies and challenger brands to acquire and retain their best customers. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, KSL manages media investments across numerous business categories for clients that include Bacardi, Toshiba, UGG Australia, PetSmart, Guitar Center, Friendly's, Oris Watches, ConocoPhillips, Curacao Tourism Board, Sizzler, City National Bank and Mercury Insurance. For more information, visit www.kslmedia.com.

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