Generational Marketing: Baby Boomers

Generational Marketing is a series on working with and marketing to the five primary generations in the U.S. population: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.

When I first began researching Baby Boomers - the generation of Kool-Aid, Elvis Presley, draft dodgers and permissive parenting - I felt that I was more closely aligned with younger Gen Xers. Upon deeper reflection, I realized that the way I think, the things I value and the influences that motivate me mirror those of the Baby Boomers. Let me tell you about the Boomers.The Silent Generation's response to the depression and World War II was to have lots of children and model them in their frugal ways. Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers became the TV generation, viewing heroic broadcasts from the moon and screaming at the Beatles' first appearance. Meanwhile, Boomers were told to hide under school desks and fear cold-war nukes while tearfully mourning heroes gunned down in Dallas and Memphis. Many Boomers rebelled against their parents through long hair, loud music and public demonstrations. That discord was deeply embedded when the horrors of the Vietnam War were chronicled on the nightly news and more than 50,000 Americans died. The controversial war combined with racial and social inequality lead Boomers to publicly protest against "the establishment" and to question everything.

Who Are Baby Boomers Today?

Decades later, Boomers' counter culture ways have been replaced by the burden of responsibility, a bit of a paradox for the hippy generation that embraced sex, drugs and rock and roll as a means of escape and self expression. Baby Boomers were the largest living generation until recently, but retain the largest proportion of disposable income with 63% of U.S. assets. They will continue to inherit from their parents, so this status will not soon change. The Boomer generation will also significantly impact the U.S. economy as the retiree bubble impacts the cost of pensions, healthcare, social security and Medicare reimbursements.

How to Work with Baby Boomers

Boomers' unity in fighting for causes has made them a committed workforce. They are loyal to the team, process and collaboration. Ambitious and hard working, Boomers' dislike for conformity and rules makes them willing to take risks.


Work defines Baby Boomers and it is the anchor in their lives. But, while their parents worked to put food on the table, Boomers are focused on career and advancement within organizations. That commitment can result in staying with a company for many years.


Boomers are motivated by responsibility and loyalty to others and they believe in the concept of working together for a cause. However, their collaborative approach tends toward defined processes and siloed individual efforts.

Communications Style

Boomers are typically very diplomatic. They prefer face-to-face communications and creating a cordial, direct and personal rapport with others.

Motivation and Feedback

Boomers want to know that their ideas matter and are not good at taking criticism. They work for a common cause but see roles as being individual, and seek opportunities, awards and recognition to readily display.

How to Market to Baby Boomers

Boomers are not afraid to spend money on suburban homes, cars and toys - proud symbols of accomplishment. Here are a few tips on how to motivate spending and market to Baby Boomers:

Trust is Critical

An "anti-establishment" background makes Boomers value the word of friends over that of authority. Peer assessments and online review programs like Angie's List provide confidence in purchase decisions.

It's All About Them

Boomers grew up in a self-actualized, self-centered world. They've worked hard to get where they are and feel that they are just starting to live the life they earned. You can feed that focus with personalized interaction, authenticity and depth of information.

Don't Make Boomers Wait

Customer experience and engagement should be easy. Make sure marketing materials and packaging are easy to find, read and understand. And, where possible, customize the experience. Sales engagement may require extra time, patience and more touch points. While Boomers seek ease, they will also commit time to making decisions.

Brand Loyalty is Key

Even though Boomers are low-trust, they are loyal to brands. So, nostalgia can be a powerful tool for messaging and marketing. Baby Boomers read and seek information, so make sure you provide plenty of relevant and authentic content.

They're Not Old

While Boomers are retiring in great numbers, they are not seniors or older adults and will take offense at words or storytelling that panders to ageist cliches. Baby Boomers need to see that you understand that they are not old and they make their own decisions.

Our generational marketing series continues with our next and final feature on the Silent Generation.

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