Baby boomers are today in the 42-60 year old range; those 78 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964. They are defined as the generation that tested the school system, questioned authority and took over the labor force, and now they are the focus of consumerism. According to a 2003 survey on consumer spending, the baby boomer generation spends more money on movies, computers, groceries, alcohol, clothing, and beauty products than younger age groups. They also spend nearly twice as much on automobiles. And companies are taking notice.
Baby boomers aren’t babies anymore, and as such, automakers are making their products more appealing by conforming their vehicles to suit the tastes and needs of those boomers. Unlike sedans of their youth, today they are after sport utility vehicles or sports cars. Health ailments that come with age, like aching backs and poor eyesight, has some car manufacturers lowering the chassis of their sport utility vehicles, while raising them in sports cars. This allows freer access to get in and out. Larger buttons and stronger lighting on dashboards are also being put in.
Another industry taking measures to lure in the boomers are clothing companies. In 1969, Gap Inc., apparel manufacturer and retailer, started selling Levis jeans and later developed its own brand of casual wear. Tracking the group as they had families, Gap added kids and baby stores. Recently in 2005, Gap introduced its latest endeavor, “Forth & Towne”, targeting mature women over the age of 35. A spokeswoman for Forth & Towne stated that the mature woman has been overlooked, and as a result, stylish clothes aren’t available to them. Along with attire for older women, the sizes offered will also be increased to a U.S. size 20, to accommodate the data from the National Center for Health Statistics. According to them, baby boomer women have gained an estimated 33 pounds from their 20’s to their 40’s.
Baby boomer women do not have the generation gap with their children that they experienced with their own mothers. These women have had the same opportunities as their daughters, share similar styles of clothing and music, and are a valuable member of spending society. In the late 90’s, the Gap’s national ad was called “For Every Generation”, and featured individuals of all ages wearing Gap jeans while expressing their own style. More examples of reaching out to the boomers, while remaining hip to the youth of today, were the commercials with rock legend Steven Tyler of Aerosmith ‘falling into the Gap’ and more recently, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, both aiming towards the older crowd. From their apparel lines, to their ad campaigns, Gap has tried to embrace and entice the older consumer.
Real estate is also acting on boomer patterns. Some development housings are attempting to attract retirees with ‘active’ communities in nontraditional places. Only 1 percent of senior citizens relocate. In the past, the norm was to go to retirement homes in Arizona or Florida, advertised as ‘retreats’, offering pastimes like golf or shuffleboard. Today’s retirement communities offer mountain biking and hiking. They are also located and built in the Midwest and Northeast, closer to where many boomers live and work. Another perk are area universities who offer classes and facilities on campus to retirees upon purchase of a home.
Baby boomers continue to influence today’s life, by having companies conform to their needs. Economically, they are a smart choice to target. As they age, they are often overlooked and ignored by industries that have a youth driven attitude. Baby boomers are an untapped resource for companies and can be a great asset for profit driven markets.