Does Your Business Understand Baby Boomers?
“Baby boomer” is a term used to describe the generation of Americans born from 1946 through 1964. That means these folks are now somewhere roughly between the ages of 53 and 71. I’m the youngest baby in that generation and I can attest that my older, generational siblings are a very large, wealthy, and powerful group. The boomers are also a goldmine for businesses if the business owners purposefully step back and think about the characteristics of this generation and how to position their business to meet their needs.
This article focuses more on the boomer attributes and not so much on specific entrepreneurial solutions and services. If you read between the lines, however, you’ll find some golden nuggets of opportunity.
They are Legion (Many)
“Large” is an important phrase. Boomers were the largest generation in the United States. Over 76 million large! Attrition is starting to take its toll. Some reports say they have been recently surpassed by the Millennial generation. In the 1940’s to 1960’s, maternity wards were not just filled with young couples eager to get their families going. They were joined by an abnormally large group of older couples who had postponed marriage and childbirth during the Great Depression and World War II. What does this mean for business? A business that can meet the needs of this generation has a lot potential customers.
They are Wealthy
Wealthy is probably an understatement when taking the group as a whole. A common mistake is to think that most of these folks are retired. Most are not. In fact, many are at the peak of their earning years and they have a lot of disposable income looking for a place to go. There are more millionaires than ever before, and most of those millionaires are in this generation.
Because there are so many people in this age group, there are also large and growing number of people on fixed income. The strain on Social Security will grow.
Baby Boomers Are Very Powerful
“Very Powerful” is an important point that should be clearly understood. Many don’t realize that boomers are the power generation at this moment in time. They literally control all other generations because they currently fill up most of the seats at powerful board tables. They sit in the government offices, with window views. They move armies, control banks, operate most corporations, and control most of the stock around the world. They are the veterans of business experience.
Speed of Technology
Boomers have seen the fast pace of technology in major ways that other generations will likely not experience in such large increments. They have seen the world change from analog to digital. From windup crank phones to the iPhone; from an abacus and slide ruler through major leaps like vacuum tubes to integrated circuits to a super computer in the cloud.
They love technology, even invented much of it, but the newfangled social media platforms are not as inherently obvious. …and that dang-small font size on those smart phones is a challenge for the older end of the generation.
Baby boomers include veterans spanning multiple wars. Some are extremely proud of that service, and some want to just forget it and move on. But as a generation, they cherish those who served, no matter what their age. Their war experience in the trenches and back on the home front taught them perseverance, obedience, loyalty, humbleness, and the value of family. They respect authority.
Healthcare & Housing Challenges
The younger members of the baby boomers are trying to figure out the best options for taking care of their parents who are nearing end of life stages. This process hints at a giant impact that aging boomers are soon going to make on communities. The nation doesn’t seem ready to handle the huge change that is coming as the boomers start to retire and fill up homes designed for the aging population. This includes single-story houses, nice retirement communities, and, eventually, assisted living facilities.
The demand for healthcare will grow as the legions of experienced boomer doctors retire in masses along with their patients. Boomers will dip into the small social security bucket with big dippers. Watching their parents age and having disposable income often brings a strong desire to look and feel young. They will refuse to accept old age until their body proves otherwise.
The boomer impact on housing is likely going to take many by surprise. They want nice places to live during their last few decades of life. This means more single-story, independent homes, in nice communities. The median age of fifty-five-and-over communities has been climbing since they first opened and the majority of these communities are full. And while most boomers don’t want to think about it, it only makes sense that there will be an intensifying demand for assisted-living facilities. The existing facilities are already approaching maximum capacity. When inevitable death eventually overtakes the generation, it will come in waves that will overflow existing funeral-based services over the next several decades.
Legacy and Bucket List
This generation desperately wants to leave a legacy behind as they approach the need to vacate board seats, retire from executive positions, and turn over their massive power to the next generation. The exodus will happen in such large quantities, that there won’t be enough experience behind them to adequate fill the empty shoes. Not only do the boomer executives need to start building better succession plans, they will start searching for opportunities to make a lasting difference with the rest of their lives. They want to leave a legacy, and if they haven’t already done it before retirement, they’ll search for ways to do it after retirement.
They are looking to check more items off their bucket list and this is great for the travel and adventure industry. Legacy needs and bucket lists are partly why boomers are the largest growing segment of new entrepreneurs. Encore careers are highly rewarding for boomers, especially those who have always dreamed of owning their own business.
Is Your Business Boomer-friendly?
As an aging legion of consumers, are businesses ready to serve? Those who don’t accommodate the needs, desires, and pains of this aging generation will lose out on a huge opportunity.
Restaurants, do your menus have a large-enough font with bright-enough lighting? Retailers, are you changing your tough plastic product containers so the older generations can open them without risking stab wounds from scissors and knives?
When is someone going to realize that the incontinent pads and briefs shouldn’t be on the top shelf, requiring embarrassing assistance for the segment of boomers that need the products? And when is someone going to tone down the obvious content exclamations on the healthcare product packaging that causes further embarrassment at the check stand?
Who is going to provide easy-to-follow training on the latest technology for the internet, smartphones, and social media? The generation isn’t dumb by any means, but they weren’t born with this technology in their hands.
Businesses need to pay attention to where the baby boomers like to play, what they like to watch, and what makes them laugh. The opportunities to fix a pain and meet a need are enormous for creative businesses that study this generation.
I hope you found this article interesting and helpful. If you have questions or suggested topics you’d like to see in this column, please contact us at Author@HireSelf.com