Consumer View: Boomer Lifestyles

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Baby Boomers will trade time for money.

Spanning the ages between 40 and 60, the Baby Boomer generation may have shipped the kids off to college, become grandparents, or seen the end of at least one career, but as far as they are concerned, these are simply stages of life that have little to do with chronological age and everything to do with new opportunities. According to Simmons Market Research Bureau's Fall 2005 consumer survey utilized for this Packaged Facts report, women make up just over half (51 percent) of the overall Boomer population. In terms of ethnicity, most ages 40 to 59 are White/non-Hispanic (74 percent), while the rest are Hispanic (10 percent), African-American (11 percent), Asian (3 percent), and 2 percent falling into other ethnic categories. For the most part, Boomers tend to live in urban areas; and MetLife finds that more than half live in nine states: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

So just how do you market to the largest, best educated, wealthiest, and most studied generation in U.S. history? And, what exactly are they (or will they be) spending money on? According to the report, marketers should think of Boomers as growing up, not growing old. And, for Boomers, how they spend their time is more important than how they spend their money. This is no more apparent than the following Boomer facts: Although they remember primitive conditions (stereo speakers, postage stamps, walkie-talkies), the Internet has changed the way 28 percent of Boomers overall do their jobs. Eighteen percent of that number acknowledge the shift. Plus, it will change the way Boomers will keep working. Of the Boomers at the top of the socioeconomic heap, nearly 58 percent or 5.9 million, have embraced electronic change.

Home is where the heart is for Boomers, even though they grew up during a "nomadic, free" period. Seventy percent of Boomers agree that their home is an important part of who they are. Boomers who bought their first home in the last year, more than 83 percent or 1 million, see their home as a major emotional (and financial) investment.

When they're not at home, travel is the top unfulfilled ambition or hobby among Boomers. According to a Mature Markets Survey, 65 percent of younger and 64 percent of older Boomers would like to travel in retirement. Further, a 2005 U.S. Tour Operators Association member survey found that Boomers represent the hottest growing demo for vacation tours and independent vacations.

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