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Older Baby Boomers vs. Seniors

Are you making the mistake of lumping older baby boomers with seniors in your marketing campaign?

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This story appears in the August 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you want to find the nation's deepest pockets, look to adults aged 54 to 64. They have a higher estimated average net worth-at $210,000-than any other age group, according to research released by Interep, a radio industry advertising and marketing firm. And a higher percentage of 55- to 64-year-olds own their homes (81.4 percent in 2003) than Americans in any other age group, reports the Center for Media Research. But surprisingly, this group-along with most adults 50-plus-is overlooked by marketers pursuing the 18-to-49 demographic, or worse, is lumped in with seniors.

Every seven seconds, another American turns 50. Dennis Miller and Kim Basinger are 50. Robin Williams just turned 52, and Susan Sarandon is 57. You wouldn't call them or their peers seniors. Then why market to them that way? There's a big distinction between marketing to what are termed "first wave" or "leading-edge" baby boomers in their 50s and marketing to seniors. That's because consumers in their 50s and early 60s have entirely different self-images and lifestyles from older seniors and, consequently, must be approached differently. For example, leading-edge boomers are seeking financial independence, while seniors place a high price on physical independence. The boomers look for endorsements and industry ratings; seniors are most comfortable with testimonials.

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