This Is Not Your Father’s Marketplace

By G. Richard "Dick" Ambrosius

On January 1, 2011, the leading edge of the 76 million surviving Baby Boomers will begin turning age 65 at a rate of one every 8 seconds. Everyone is suddenly interested in how to market to and serve this tsunami of consumers that have changed the rules in every decade since they were granted special status in the 60’s as the first wave became new consumers.

The sheer size of the Boomer age cohort dwarfed the generation that both preceded and followed it, which is why Boomers have changed every decade as they matured — the sheer force of numbers. While Boomers share common experiences, which must be considered in developing future marketing strategies, they will not “age” differently than the Silent, Eisenhower or other generations that came before or the generations that will come after.

Marketing guidelines effective in the youth-driven markets of the past (1940’s – 1990’s) as Boomers moved through adult life like a pig through a python are no longer effective. Since the 18 – 40 age cohorts had grown in every decade from 1492 to 1990, businesses and the advertising and marketing professional that served them had no reason to change…but that was yesterday. Adults 45 and older are now in the majority and rule the marketplace – in numbers, in spending, and will determine the rules for successful marketplace engagement.

The short-term danger lies believing the myth that Baby Boomers will be forever stuck in the 60’s and therefore just an extension of yesterday’s youth market. To believe the myth is to condemn these consumers to a life of narcissism and your business to declining returns on advertising dollars and bottom-line losses – business suicide on the installment plan.

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