When it comes to Baby Boomer Marketing, many make the mistake of grouping the huge 78 million person, demographic into one consumer group. But, remember that the boomers' generational identity is only one of the facets that impact their behavior. Characteristics such gender, income, education, parental status, geography and ethnicity may trump boomer status when it comes to behavior. In addition, while boomers share many experiences and values, many further divide boomers into segments based on their personality, motivators and lifestyle.
Like so many others, Nancy K. Schlossberg, is helping us make sense of baby boomers. Schlossberg, a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland and the author of Retire Smart, Retire Happy: Finding Your True Path in Life," divides baby boomers into six main types. She explains that some people may fit into more than one category, and over time, people will likely shift from one type of boomer to another. The six types are:
- The Easy Glider takes each day as it comes. These are the boomers who just bought a condo near the beach, for example, and are happy to relax there with their spouse, take walks in the morning and cook dinners together. They enjoy every day and have no interest in going back to work. Easy gliders are usually financially secure and do not have to worry about long-term retirement costs.
- The Adventurer makes daring changes with his or her life. They may have retired from one career, then gone back to school and started another career. The longtime teacher who becomes a massage therapist is a good example, or the accountant who earns a culinary arts degree and begins catering parties. Adventurers may be motivated by financial needs. If they have not saved enough for retirement, they need to figure out another source of income.
Adventurers often love to travel. The grandma you hear about who went on a trip to India, or the senior who took a cross-country trip on his Harley-Davidson to go to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., are adventurers.
- The Continuer continues to use existing skills, interests and activities but modifies them to fit retirement. The math professor who retires from the university but continues to tutor students in math, for example, or the realtor who sells her busy and demanding practice but continues to occasionally list houses for friends or relatives. A continuer could be someone who worked as a preschool teacher who now baby sits young children.
- The Searcher tries out different careers or hobbies to find something that will bring him or her happiness. Perhaps they've started making pottery through a ceramics class, but then find themselves drawn to a class about writing mystery novels. Maybe they're taking up fishing again, or some other activity they haven't had time for in years.
This searching also occurs on a spiritual level. Retreats involving prayer, meditation and a deepening of faith appeal to searchers, who are reflecting on what they have learned in their lives, and how they want to spend their remaining years. Most boomers will have a "searching" phase during or after retirement.
- The Involved Spectator cares deeply about the world. They love their family members, feel connected to their faith and care about their community. However, because of illness or other circumstances, they are not as involved as they used to be. Someone who has been very involved in her church for many years, but now can only manage spending a few hours a week helping on Sunday mornings, is one example. Another is a grandfather who was always very involved with his grand-children's lives, but who sees them less now because of his health concerns.
- The Retreater is the only negative category of the six types, Schlossberg says. They are confused and upset about retirement. The change may have been traumatic for them. They miss their former coworkers and have not been able to make new friends. Instead, they have retreated to their home to watch TV, withdrawing from friends and family. Although a person might be in the "retreat" category for a while, he or she can also transition from this into a more positive stage and become a "searcher."
As you develop programs for your over-fifty customers, make sure you offer options that appeal to each of the six personality types. Please share your examples by COMMENTing below.