Generational Marketing

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Viet Nam….
’68 Democratic Convention…
Draft dodgers…
Assassinations of JFK, MLK, Bobby…
Nixon resignation…
Suburban sprawl…

Those of us who survived all of the above and more are members of what we have all come to know as the “Baby Boom” generation. Born between 1945 and 1964 (I steadfastly refuse to acknowledge where I stand within these years), the sheer size and political/cultural/social characteristics of Boomers changed the world forever. Though not always for the better.

Much has been written about this demographic group already. I have nothing to add EXCEPT some reflections on how this, and other, generations impact marketing now and in the future.

Right now, one would have to say the goose that laid the golden egg…Boomers have been the most profligate, gotta-have-it-now spenders in the history of the world and they bought lots of all kinds of stuff…ain’t what she used to be. Buffeted by a recession that sapped retirement accounts, a difficult job market, rising health care costs and anxiety about the solvency of social security, Boomers have folded the wallet and snapped the purse shut. It has been said that this is the first recession since World War II for which Boomer spending will not lift the economy back to prosperity. In short, they’re tapped out.

But aren’t these the customers with which you are most familiar? If they stop coming into your place of business, what then? Are you ready for what’s next? Do you KNOW what’s next?

I’m not suggesting all Boomers will suddenly stop spending. After all, they still control nearly 80% of financial assets and about 50% of discretionary spending power. But their focus has switched from acquisition to preservation. There are still sales to be made though not nearly as many. Haven’t you noticed business ain’t what it used to be?

In my opinion, as marketers we must do what we can to squeeze the water out of the Baby Boomer stone. In the meantime we also must prepare for the future. And don’t worry…there is another revolution coming that will be just as big and provide as much or more opportunity than the Baby Boom Generation. Will you be ready to take advantage?

We’ll explore this issue in future blogs.

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