Over the last few years, generational divides have felt fiercer. With social media as a platform for this argument to thrive, 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.
Following success in understanding Gen Z, and with a history dispelling generational tropes, we turned our attention to baby boomers. An extensive group that we feel remain overlooked, the victims of blanket generalisation and poorly represented in media.
Surveying 1,000 nationally representative baby boomers before running online focus groups, we recently explored stereotypes surrounding them. Their inability to use technology. That retirement spells the end of adventure or future-planning. And that ‘small c’ conservative views combine with a lack of empathy for younger generations. All whilst enjoying financially comfortable lives themselves.
We were able to understand the origins behind some of these stereotypes, dispel others almost entirely and identified one universal truth. In a nutshell, here is what we found:
- Baby boomers typically recognise the difficulties faced by younger generations and their role within them, acknowledging the difficulties around mental health and house buying in particular.
- Most baby boomers are confident in their ability to use tech and enjoy its benefits. Further to this, they have more conscious choice in what tech to use than younger generations typically seem to.
- Baby boomers are broadly planning as much as they ever have. Making the most of opportunities not available to them when younger is a driving force behind this.
- Whilst more likely to be conservative, both personal and societal events continue to impact their opinions, leading to the adoption of new ways of life. This leads to the emergence of a cohort passionate to help shape a positive future for all.
- A generational advantage does not protect them from personal difficulties. The impact of regret, financial hardship and health issues or anxieties dispelled any notion that they universally lead struggle-free lives.
It would be remiss for some to continue misunderstanding this 20million-strong audience. Their significance for advertisers grows with the fact that their spending power is up to 17 times greater than that of millennials (FT). Equally remiss would be to continue considering them as one homogeneous group. The nuance within the baby boomer generation is incredibly vast. Taking the time to truly understand them and their subsets presents a huge opportunity to connect with this misunderstood generation.
Following the research, we identified three main considerations for advertisers. These are to be an advocate, to not treat them as one and the same and to be more respectful and genuine.
The full whitepaper shares much more detail than is possible here and is available on the7stars website.