Baby, show me the money

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Baby boomers are the most talked about generation in history. Techs savvy, willing to pay for convenience and used to being paid attention to by marketers, Boomers are in their peak earning years and have more money to spend than any other generation.

Of the almost 300 million people in the United States, about 78 million are ages 42 to 60 - baby boomers. This group makes up about 30 percent of the U.S. population and represented an estimated $2 trillion in spending power in 2004.

Meet the boomers
Despite the commonality of being baby boomers, this is not one homogenous group. While boomers may have all been born over the same 18-year period (between 1946 and 1964), they are a very diverse group. Many boomers are turning 60 and readying for retirement, but some are still in their early 40s and working on building their careers and families.

Extensive research and analyses has been done on boomers and from the analyses, 13 distinct types of baby boomer households have emerged.

These range from single working-class women to teen-dominated families and everything in between - including seven married segments, three single-female segments and four single-male segments. Each segment has unique age, income level and behavior characteristics.

Marketing to baby boomers
Marketers need to understand that because of this generation's diversity - and because of today's increasingly cluttered media environment - the only messages that are likely to get through to the baby boomers are those that appeal to them personally using messages that are relevant to their lives and lifestyles.

Affluent professional couples can be reached through the mail, on cable watching HGTV, at their favorite financial services Web sites and through promotional efforts targeting upscale events like the theater. Messages should emphasize high end benefits, simplicity and speed.

Conversely, teen-dominated families are more easily reached through morning radio, prime-time network TV and high school-related promotional campaigns. Value, convenience and "something for everyone" benefits will resonate strongly.

Customizing marketing for each boomer segment doesn't have to be elaborate - just relevant. What appeals to the affluent professional couple is very different from the fast-paced and practical copy that suits teen-dominated families.

Armed with an understanding of all the different groups of people within the boomer segment, you'll be able to target the right offer and the right message to the right baby boomers, using the right medium. And once you learn to tap into this critical demographic, your marketing opportunities will expand dramatically.

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