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Boomers: The Middle Frontier

Posted on | February 25, 2009 | No Comments

by Chip Walker, Director of Strategic Planning StrawberryFrog

A new Boomer marketing is here, and it’s disrupting our conception of what it means to talk to the “me” generation. That’s because today’s Boomers aren’t defined by generation.

We’ve historically assumed that identity is formed in youth, so if you understand youth experience and you understand the adult.  That’s not true anymore.  Today’s Boomers are dramatically more affected by today’s events that by past events.

What happened at Woodstock simply has limited relevance to what they are facing today.

Woodstock '69

Woodstock 1969

Marketers tend to make two mistakes in targeting boomers.  They either treat them like they are aged versions of their youth, or lump them in as “seniors” with everyone over 45 or 50, failing to understand that Midlife is a distinct life stage, unlike youth or old age, with its own rites of passage and turning points.

Today, Boomers are defined by a common life stage – Mid-Life – that occupies an expanded period from their 40s to late 60s.   The Boomers’ experience of Mid-life is new because they can expect to live up to 20 years longer than past generations.  Most look and act younger than their parents at this age – think Tom Cruise, Katie Couric and Oprah, all mid-life Boomers.  Rather than preparing to check out, they are moving on to a second life.  If they are lucky, they will reach a life-peak their parents could only have dreamed of and that younger people envy.   They’ll also face unprecedented struggles that will keep them out of the rocking chair anytime soon. As they have with all life stages, Boomers are pioneering this period. They have no roadmap, no examples to follow.  They are looking for help.

An example is that of finding your “true north” – your purpose and passion in life.  StrawberryFrog research has shown that between the ages of 45 and 64, Boomers go from saying they want to find their passion, to actually feeling they’ve found it.  Mid-life targeted brands like Frito-Lay’s new “True North” nut snacks, which StrawberryFrog helped to develop, are specifically designed to fuel Boomers during this turning point.

In summary, there’s a new and better approach to Boomer marketing, and it’s not generational. It is all about products and branding that are hyper-relevant to their new life stage.

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