Drop the Oatmeal and Forget What You 'Know' About Boomers

Advertisers, Agencies Need a Better Understanding of Our Feisty, Evolving Generation

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Judann Pollack
Judann Pollack
I've never met Alan Wurtzel, but he sure seems to know me.

"These guys are changing," the president-research and media development at NBC Universal said of my generation, the baby boomers. "They are not behaving the way people would normally think."

You can say that again, especially the way Madison Avenue seems to view us. In its estimation, all we're in the market for are life insurance, oatmeal and Life Alert monitors. As Ad Age's story yesterday points out, the logic among advertisers is that boomers are sedentary technophobes who can't bear to shift brands.

What this conveniently ignores is that not only are we retiring later, but we younger boomers got married later and had kids later, which means that a fair amount of us have teenagers or college kids who get us interested in the latest technology. In my home (providing local thieves aren't circling my house as I write this) are two big-screen HDTVs, two desktop computers, a laptop, a custom gaming computer, iPod docks, several 3G cellphones and an Xbox. The other day, a young man stopped me to remark on my e-reader. "Oh, you have a Kindle!" he exclaimed. "My grandmother has one."

OK, that part deflated me a bit but he makes a great point. I actually received a friend request on Facebook from a pal of my late mother's who has to be pushing 80. I ought to check and see if she's on Twitter.

Nielsen said that boomers in 2010 will account for approximately 38.5% of all dollars spent on consumer package goods such as diapers (the baby variety, not the adult variety), toothpaste and laundry detergent. We account for 40% of customers paying for wireless services and 41% of customers paying for Apple personal computers. And, apparently, we account for a lot of booze sales. "Alcohol is a bigger part of [boomers] lives," said Nielsen Senior VP-Research Doug Anderson. "They aren't going to just stop."

What can I say? I'm doing my part.

The point is, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, we boomers aren't going to go gentle into that good night. This generation is unlike any other. We are feisty and we are fighters. The words "getting old" aren't even in our lexicon.

So you can keep the denture creams thanks; I'll buy the collagen creams, toning shoes and Spanx.

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