Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Ten Boomer Myths Exposed

A number of common myths about the Baby Boomer generation were exposed in the third Quarterly Boomer Report released on April 15th at www.aarp.org. The report, “How Well Do You Know Boomers? Counting Down the Top 10 Boomer Myths,” identified and investigated the top myths associated with Boomers in order to separate fact from fiction.

“Boomers are redefining age and changing the way business is done” said Howard Byck, VP Corporate Development for AARP Services. “Contrary to many common assumptions, Boomers are making retirement obsolete, are very savvy about advertising, and are experimenting with new products.”

The report revealed ten myths to be untrue. Let's take #6-10 today (with my comments in italics):

Myth #10 - Boomers are retiring early

"Contrary to much of the attention given to the first Boomers turning 62 this year and being eligible to take Social Security benefits early. In reality very few Boomers are planning to stop working entirely when they reach retirement age – only 11%." (I have blogged on this extensively and encourage my fellow boomers on this point all the time. We must resist this temptation for our own good. Any time I need encouragement, I visit www.encore.org.)

Myth #9 - Boomers are downsizing their homes

"Despite the image of older consumers "winding down" as the years progress, and simplifying their lives and homes, only 6% of Boomers are planning to be living in a smaller residence five years from now." (The Platinum wife and I have had this discussion several times and decided to renovate our house and live here for at leat another 10-15 years. The only time I get tempted is when I visit a condo dweller and see the workers mowing and doing maintenance :-)

Myth #8 - Most Boomers are married empty nesters

"Most are actually not Empty Nesters. The study reveals that only about one in four Boomers fit the profile of married with adult children who have left home. 37% of Boomers still have children under 18 in the home, and a third are single." (I'm skeptical. Not that I desbelieve the statistic, but I don't think it's useful. The "children at home" statistic is almost surely the result of the wide 20 year band that technically defines a boomer. Obviously, the 42-52 crowd overwhelmingly has the kids and the 52-62 crowd has the empty nest, married or single.)

Myth #7 – You can capture Boomers with mainstream advertising

"Boomers are paying attention to advertising, but they do not always like what they see. 66% say that ads have gotten more crude in recent years and another 67% say they are less likely to purchase a product if they find the advertising offensive. It is important to recognize that same message may not resonate with Boomers in the same way as it will with a younger consumer."

Myth #6 - Boomers are brand loyal and will not switch

"Commonly thought to be set in their ways, Boomers are just as likely as younger cohorts to experiment with new products. They are actually paying attention to advertising for new products and 61% of Boomers agree that 'in today’s marketplace, it doesn’t pay to be loyal to one brand.'”

(These myths, #6 and #7, are a critical reason why you often scratch your head at some of today's, um, strange advertising. It's geared to the typical 20 and 30-something, who is viewed by Madison Avenue as much more willing to be influenced by advertising, whereas boomers are viewed as more rigid. I guess that's a sign of maturity, but we are NOT "set in our ways" according to this.)

We'll take a look at the top five tomorrow. - Bob

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