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4 Ways Boomers Will Choose Brands in the 'Age of Aging'

Soon more than half of U.S. adults will be over 50 — and that’s a force marketers need to address

By Peter Hubbell

Jan. 1, 2014, will mark the beginning of a new year and the dawning of a new era: the “Age of Aging.” It’s the year when the last of the nearly 80 million boomers will turn 50.
America at 50/50

Four years later, America will be 50-50 agewise. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2018, half of the U.S. adult population will be over 50. At that point, boomers will control 70 percent of all disposable income.
The aging of America is a powerful, irreversible force. It will drive changes in virtually every aspect of our world, from the way we live and work to the things we buy and value to the very concept of age itself. And just as boomers have shaped our cultural and economic landscape since they were born, there’s every reason to believe they’ll continue doing so in the later years of their lives.
(MORE: How Boomers Rearranged the 3 Boxes of Life)

BoomAgers, the advertising agency I founded, is dedicated to “The Most Valuable Generation.” We’ve identified four dynamics that will influence how boomers make brand choices in the Age of Aging and what marketers need to do to satisfy this audience:
The search for well-being Physical, emotional and spiritual health will be central to our happiness and productivity.
Boomers are taking better care of themselves, living longer and staying more active than any generation in history. They are extending their lives and enhancing their lifestyles. However, millions of boomers will still need to confront the physical consequences of getting older.
Marketers are preparing for this with a dizzying array of “anti-aging” products, but the key to their success is not product alone. The companies will also need to understand the psychology of aging.
(MORE: Should You Buy Boomer Health Care Products?)
While boomers know they’re getting old, they don’t want to be told they’re old. They’re seeking empathy, understanding and a decidedly positive portrayal of their lives. Brands need to understand them and respond with real, authentic communication.
A quest for a simpler life The complexity of life has increased exponentially. Paradoxically, as we enter the “Age of Aging,” the reverse is likely to be true.
Two converging dynamics explain why: Technology is simplifying our lives at the same time that aging boomers are seeking streamlined lifestyles. The 50+ crowd is simplifying their lives because they want to — and because they can.
As boomers are confronted with imposing modern realities, they will compensate by choosing to experience them on their own terms.

Whether it’s the latest smartphone, operating system, photo-sharing service, blog, social platform, e-book or cloud-based-whatever, boomers will decide to use the tool that best accommodates and respects their need for plug-and-play simplicity.
In pursuit of a simpler life, boomers will eschew the multitasking that Millennials crave. For boomers, simplicity equates to quality of life.
A pursuit of lifelong growth Boomers are not getting older, they’re growing older. This generation is defying the unrelenting progress of aging with a fierce determination to continue learning and advancing.

They see this time as the afternoon of their lives, not the night, and feel there’s still much they want to accomplish. Boomers are starting, not stopping.
This is a positive, purposeful generation looking to enrich themselves internally. According to a recent article in Time magazine, boomers are “The Holy Enrollers.” They’re the fastest growing age group at U.S. divinity schools, accounting for 20 percent of all students.
For brands and their marketers, “growth” is a growth business. Boomers love to discover new things and they’ll pay a premium for products and services that can help sustain their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth.
A renaissance at home With boomers retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, a trend that will continue unabated for the next 17 years, the “me-centric” generation is about to become the “home-centric” generation.
(MORE: It’s Time for Boomers to Fix Their Bad Brand)

The time and resources once spent commuting and working are being reallocated to a home-based lifestyle. New patterns of living that reflect this phenomenon will have a huge impact on which products and services boomers choose to use.
Look for an uptick in home repair and renovation, as well as a change in eating habits. Lunch? See ya later, brown bag.
With more free time on their hands, boomers will dramatically increase their consumption of media and entertainment. The idea of a “screened porch” will come to have a whole new meaning – it’ll be the place where retirees will sit outside to watch movies and TVs on their tablets, phones and computers.
The Age of Aging is here and marketers who choose to ignore its potential do so at their own peril.

Peter Hubbell, author of Getting Better With Age, is the founder and CEO of BoomAgers, an advertising agency and brand consultancy dedicated to the aging consumer. His previous book was The Old Rush. An advertising executive with a career spanning 30+ years, Hubbell is a widely sought expert on the topic and is a regular contributor to HuffingtonPost, Mediapost, 33 Voices and other influential marketing content providers. His body of work includes memorable campaigns for blue-chip global marketers including General Mills, Pillsbury and Procter & Gamble, now also a client at BoomAgers. Read More
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