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Male Hope Springs Eternal

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When it comes to experiencing a feeling of wellness among Baby Boomers in their everyday lives, guess which one of the top 12 barometers for well-being men say they actually feel stronger about than women do.

Right.

The correct answer, as you more than likely guessed, is "having a satisfying sex life," which 73 percent of male respondents in a study on "Boomers' Wellness Lifestyle issues released last month by Buzzback Market Research voiced is a very important well-being criterion. That's quite a difference from women ages 35 to 65 in the study, 61 percent of whom expressed "having a satisfying sex life" as having significant importance.

Almost 65 percent of Boomer men claim that sex takes up either more or the same amount of "thought time" as it did five years ago, while 44 percent of women agree, and 45 percent of women say it takes up less "thought time."

The study illustrates moderate to wide polarity among men and women on all 12 criteria by which it benchmarked well-being, and points up the study's advice to marketers toward "more targeted, gender-specific advertising, marketing and product development on health, wellness-related products and food."

"Obviously, what men and women Baby Boomers each prioritize as important suggests that marketers need to look at those differences as they come up with products and messages for this generation," says Carol Fitzgerald, president of New York City-based Buzzback. Overall, "the survey proves that the Boomer market is thinking of their lives in a well-rounded way--having a fulfilling family and spiritual life, being mentally sharp and staying fit," Fitzgerald adds. "Consequently they're choosing products that support this more holistic, healthier lifestyle."

The male Boomer-female Boomer discrepancy was widest when it came to rating the importance of the statement "having a rich spiritual life," which scored as very important to seven out of 10 women, but just half of men. The other two statements most noteworthy for gender gaps were "feeling safe and secure" and "managing stress" -- which both elicited a 13-point difference between women, who felt stronger about the statements, and men.

One of the survey's goals, to find out Baby Boomers' predisposition toward alternative health therapies and brand associations, also revealed that men and women differ when it comes to the adoption of health treatment alternatives. More than half of men and women say they currently don't use alternative therapies, and another 15 percent say they never would use them.

But among the 30 percent of respondents who say they do use alternative health treatment (while both men and women tend to share herbal medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, and meditation as their leading alternative health care treatments), women list "aromatherapy" first among their top five alternatives, and men list "fasting" as an alternative therapy. Men place herbal medicine and chiropractic as the No. 1 and 2 alternatives. Women rank aromatherapy and herbal medicine No. 1 and 2, respectively.

But gender differences were not the only polarities that show up in the attitudes of Boomers toward wellness, according to the Buzzback study, which gathered quantitative and qualitative data from 500 adult respondents ages 35 to 65. The study's younger Boomers -- ages 35 to 44 -- tend to place "time with my family/community" and "having a rich spiritual life" highest on their hierarchy of values. The cohort's middle tier age group, ages 45 to 54, ranks "maintaining/improving my physical health" the highest, followed by "time with my family/community" and "having a rich spiritual life." Meanwhile, the senior-most age group among boomers -- ages 54 to 65 -- scores "traveling and seeing new places" equally as important as "maintaining/improving my physical health."

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