Make Room for Boomers.

As seen in October 26, 2002 ADWEEK

If you are too young to remember President Kennedy’s assassination, then you’re not in the “power demo”. Similarly, if you already had graduated from high school, then you’re too old. But if you were somewhere in between first grade and sophomore year of high school in November 1963, then you are in the “power demo,” also called, less imaginatively, adults 45-54.

Yes, we adults 45-54 remember when President Kennedy was assassinated and we all remember which class we were in on that fateful Friday (my answer: Mr. Ski’s 6th grade shop class at Florence M. Gaudineer Junior High). Yet despite our sheer numbers and our powerful monetary and political influence, we are about to become a demographic afterthought to advertisers who seek youth. How foolish!

First of all, those in the “power demo” were born between 1948 and 1957, the height of the post-World War II baby boom. This group changed our society in radical ways through music, through ideology and through our parents’ vision that we would be more educated and affluent than they were. They were correct. Of all the demo categories, this group, with children of their own moving through school and into adulthood, is incredibly well off, and they will have more time and money to spend in their later years.

Two-thirds of adults 45-54 have household income higher than $50,000, with one-quarter higher than $100,000! Our children are getting older, and though college costs are beating many of us down now and will for the next 10 years, there is light at the end of that tunnel in the next decade, when this same group moves into the 55-64 demo.

Yet, how important will this 55-64 demo be to a 30-year-old media buyer and a 35-year-old marketing director in 2010? The historical wisdom of getting them while they’re young and having a customer for life, while perhaps once true, no longer holds. Today’s world changes too fast. Brands come and go faster. Technology changes business in ways we never foresaw, and the rate of change is increasing exponentially year after year.

So I find it interesting how each of the broadcast networks is striving to decrease the average age of its audience. Instead, they ought to find more powerful ways to position themselves to the current 45-54 demo that will be the 55-64 of 2010. And that doesn’t mean Touched by an Angel and Murder, She Wrote spin-offs.

Just remember that the midpoint of the 55-64 demo is 59-1/2, the age that we boomers can withdraw IRA and 401(k) dollars without penalty (and yes, many of us have our 59-1/2 birthdays circled on our calendars and hope our portfolios have rebounded by then). We’ll spend our dollars disproportionately on the goods and services from marketers smart enough to target us now and nurture our relationships in the coming years.

More Strumings

Leave a Reply