Over the last few years, generational divides have felt fiercer; events like Brexit and lockdown have heightened disharmony between old and young seemingly more than ever. Now, words like snowflake, gammon, and boomer, have taken on new, negative, and deliberately insulting meanings. With a history dispelling generational tropes, we set out to understand the truth about baby boomers. Currently in their mid-50s to mid-70s, it’s an extensive group that can be overlooked; the victims of blanket generalisation and sometimes poorly represented in media. It would be remiss for advertisers to continue misunderstanding this 20million-strong audience with a spending power that is up to 17 times greater than millennials’ (FT).
In our recent whitepaper, The Original Misunderstood Generation, we explored stereotypes surrounding baby boomers, including their ability to use technology, the idea that retirement terminates future-planning, and a lack of empathy for younger generations. We were able to understand the origins behind some stereotypes, dispel others entirely and identified one unfortunate universal truth; the experience of ageism.
Defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the “stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age”, ageism is described as the “most normalised of any prejudice”, and, alarmingly, such attitudes have been identified in children as young as three [Frontiers]. The perceived stigma baby boomers feel attached to them simply for their age is rife. It’s so entrenched that 1 in 10 believe ageism is the most important issue facing society. There is a consensus that society has a lack of interest in hearing, seeing, and involving them. This is felt in a lack of representation in advertising and how they are portrayed on TV, through to government support and initiatives targeted at them. Fundamentally, they feel forgotten and undervalued when they feel they have a lot to offer society.
Of all the themes explored in our research, this felt most applicable to the advertising industry. It was, after all, the reason we set out to start the project! So what should we do about it? From our research, we identified three main considerations for advertisers; to be an advocate, to not treat baby boomers as one and the same, and to be more respectful & genuine in comms. For an in depth look at the above topics the full whitepaper is available on the7stars website now and is well worth a read!