Advertising To Boomers Just Became More Important Than Ever

The Boomer-Plus Generation welcomes Gen X and swells to 93 million

Described as America’s neglected middle child by the Pew Research Center, bemoaned as overlooked by the BBC and dubbed forgotten by CNN Money, over four million Gen Xers born in 1965 turn fifty in 2015.

The Land Time Forgot

Not only are Xers neglected, overlooked and forgotten, but marketers and demographers can’t seem to agree on their age range. Lately, some have skimmed off younger members to boost the importance of the Millennials.

But here we still use the classic definition: born 1965-1983. It’s easier to keep score when the goalposts stay in place.

We of the Boomer-Plus Generation, aka the 15th Nation™, welcome these new quinquagenerians – now there’s a fine ten dollar word to toss around at parties – to our secret hidden world. It’s a land that time, or at least Madison Avenue, forgot.

That’s because when Americans reach 50, most mainstream brands no longer target them; supposedly, overnight, they have become too old to change their buying habits. So, older models and actors are purged from ads because the geezers are assumed to be in the bag anyway and over-the-hill imagery might scare off Millennial newcomers.

Magritte doorwayThose born in 1965 will find a happy new home in the Boomer-Plus Generation, not only to escape fifty-phobia but also because they grew up in Boomer-world. The events that shaped Gen X lives were also part of the Boomers’ own continuing evolution.

So, the 15th Nation now boasts a population of 93 million consumers born 1940-1965. For disruptive advertisers, learning how to open the door to effective Boomer-Plus engagement just became more important by 4 million customers.

Born in 1965: life-shaping events that overlap with Boomer-world

Of course, children born in 1965 grew up with different experiences from those of older Boomers whose youngest reference points were formed in the 1950s or even the 1940s. But they also shared the four key strands of social DNA that bind the Boomer-Plus Generation together:

  • Shaggy and Scooby DooAdaptability … Constantly expecting and embracing change
  • Fear of nuclear war … Until the USSR unraveled in 1990
  • Kid-friendly television … Adult cable TV was far in the future
  • Peter Pan syndrome … Lifelong emphasis on youthfulness

No generation gets to sail along without setbacks and difficulties. By the time 1965 babies reached adulthood they had heard all about energy crises, recession, stagflation, the arms race and the threat of environmental disasters that seemed always to loom on the horizon.

But by the end of the 1980s, Doomsday had been postponed and America prospered. Like the Boomers before them, Gen X emerged confident that, despite life’s challenges, there was always a big, bright beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day (HT Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.)

This confidence was not misplaced. As we posted last month, their future was shaped by six key Boomer-pioneered breakthroughs: cell phones, personal computers, import car brand domination over domestics, a fast food revolution, globalization and the greening of America.

Gen Xers: the long goodbye begins

Apple Performa 1993Contrary to misconceptions about “tech-averse” Boomers, it was they who pushed the big trends of the 1970s and 1980s past the tipping point. But it was Gen Xers who jumped in to help take the dialog to the next levels in the 1990s and 2000s.

Those 1965 babies had sure come a long way when they turned 30 in 1995 – even further by 2005, as they hit 40. Since then they’ve Facebooked up, transitioned from iPhones 4 through 6, tweeted out a storm and built new companies to create mobile ad campaigns and online content.

So as 2015 rolls along it is naive to believe that, after relishing lives of unprecedented  change, the adaptability gene of 50 year old Xers has gone the way of the Atari 800.

But naive is apparently the default setting among conventional mainstream brands that ignore a bigger, more affluent market than Germany, or France, or the UK and way bigger than Canada and Australia combined.

Now 93 million strong, and controlling over 70% of U.S. household net worth, the Boomer-Plus Generation buys more than half of all consumer packaged goods, home electronics and new cars sold in America.

Before waving goodbye to any more 50-year olds – and any more opportunity – maybe disruptive thinkers need to figure out how to market their way into all that ever-adaptable buying power. Here at the Boomer-Plus Consulting Group, we’ll leave the light on for you.

Opportunity Stay Cool After 50

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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