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Seniors: Our underestimated prospects

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We’re all aware of the Baby Boomers -- that huge generation born between ’46 and ’64. There are 76 million of them. They represent 27 percent of the population, a titanic target market and, clearly, our industry is taking aim at them. The best example of that is the re-designed DiscoverBoating.com website with an excellent boomer section. It even features the nation’s first boomer born, according to the government. She is Kathy Casy-Kirschling, 62, a boater whose boat is appropriately named “First Boomer.” 

But the development of new feature sections for DiscoverBoating.com shouldn’t stop there. It’s time to also recognize that seniors (born before ’46) may be our most underestimated market today. While not quite as big a target as the Boomers, there are still an estimated 55 million seniors nationally. What’s more, these people don’t even like to be called “Seniors” because they believe they’re just middle aged. And, they’re writing a new script for getting older anchored in active lifestyles, claims Margaret Morganroth Gullette in her book “Declining to Decline.” 

These new “middle agers,” some retired and some still working, are already far more active than their predecessors. Equally important, they also have the most wealth per capita in the country today! That makes them another prime target group for our marketing because boating is a perfect fit for their active living. Innovations like joy stick docking, wider stairs replacing old ladders to the bridge, big-screen electronics at the helm and much more make boating easier and more accessible to them.

In Aging Today, editor Paul Kleyman holds that relatively little marketing is really being done to this segment. It reflects an underlying negative attitude of younger advertising executives about older audiences.

I suppose it is hard for an ad agency copywriter in his or her 30’s to think the new “middle agers” are cool. But, the truth is, if we combine the Boomers and the new “middle agers” we’re talking about 70 percent of all purchasing power.

So, let’s keep up our appeal to the boomers who are sure to be more active and live longer in good health than any previous generation in history. But let’s cash in on the whole picture by appealing to the new ‘middle agers” who are already living the active lifestyle.

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