Will Boomers Redefine Retirement by Stepping Up and Giving Back?
Dan Gallagher, EVP, Brand Strategy + Research
Given the sheer size of this growing demographic, Baby Boomers have had an impact on every decade since the 1960s. From the counterculture of the Hippies in the 60s who helped end the Vietnam war and supported civil rights; to the anti-establishment and nihilistic Punks of the 70s; to the Yuppies in the 80s who glorified excess consumerism and expanded gentrification; to the Yacht Rock wealth preservationists in the past two decades, Boomers have consistently changed society over time.
With dramatic global events like the COVID-19 pandemic, Climate Change and other social issues, can we expect Boomers to have the same type of impact on these societal events as they have had in the past? Or, will Boomers take a pass, preserve their wealth and expect younger generations to step up?
Rain the Growth Agency’s Boomer Silver Tsunami Segmentation may have some clues as to what Boomers will do. As noted in our Senior Segmentation article, the agency’s proprietary research identified three dominant segments:
- Nostalgic Conservatives (22.3 million Thrifty Fixed-Income Seniors)
- Seniors Living Simply (22.6 million Traditional, Mid-Income Seniors)
- Progressive Knowledgeable Nesters (18.2 million Savvy, Affluent Seniors)
Boomers are Financially Positioned to Give Back
From a psychosocial and emotional perspective, Boomers fared well during the pandemic—roughly six in ten consider themselves emotionally and mentally healthy whereas younger generations report higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Economically, with the exception of Nostalgic Conservatives, most Boomers are in good shape financially: Seniors Living Simply and Progressive Knowledgeable Nesters report comfortable, six-figure incomes in retirement.
Environmentally, only Progressive Knowledgeable Nesters prioritize sustainability initiatives. Nostalgic Conservatives are “green” in theory and Seniors Living Simply are not willing to give up convenience and consider the environment unimportant in their lives now.
Politically, all three Boomer segments skew significantly Republican—even the “coastal elite” Progressive Knowledgeable Nesters. Both parties, however, can be hopeful of gaining votes among the 32% of Boomers who consider themselves Independent.
Given the household wealth and high-income streams among Seniors Living Simply and Progressive Knowledgeable Nesters, Boomers are in a position to give back to society. Whether it’s volunteering with the extra time they have in retirement, or donating some of their disposable income/wealth, Boomers could make up for their historically-perceived selfish behavior (“The Me Generation”) over the past half-century.
A Personal Boomer Take
As a late Boomer myself, my point of view is that it’s high time Boomers recognize that we squandered many of the significant achievements of our time: Capitalism didn’t really win the Cold War, the expectation that digital technology would change most lives for the better didn’t really pan out and despite medical breakthroughs, we aren’t much healthier. Boomers’ traditional belief in economic market forces always being rational and positive was way off the mark. We basically didn’t put all these advances to good use.
In our retirement, we need to hold ourselves accountable for our “me-centric” past behavior and give back to a society that has enabled our success over the generations. I suspect those Boomers who were Hippies or supported the civil rights movement, still hold some of those extrinsic, community-based values and are more likely to give back than those Boomers who still identify with the consumption-centric and aspirational values of the Yuppies and those of the Go-Go Nineties.
There’s still hope: based on the Boomer Silver Tsunami segmentation, there are millions of Boomers who are at least attitudinally disposed towards the environment, open to finding middle ground politically and—based on their home ownership levels and desire for aging in place—should be willing to give back to their respective local communities.
Helping Boomers Feel Good about Their Spending
Given these opportunities, it might be beneficial for brands who have typically been geared toward Millennials and other younger generations to target this older audience. With a clear understanding of what drives buying decisions for the three Boomer Silver Tsunami segments, brands may be able to appeal to Boomers, like myself, that are ready to give back.
Rain the Growth Agency has more experience and success than any agency in helping DTC brands market to Boomers. For more information on how we can help your business reach and communicate with this influential segment, visit https://55plus.rainforgrowth.com/.
Listen to one of our experts dispel myths of the senior population on this Claritas podcast.