Today’s Boomers – Contributing, Savvy, Buying
“I was there, I can prove it! When I was a kid, you could buy meat anywhere! Eggs they had, real butter! Not this… crap!” – Sol, “Soylent Green,” MGM, 1973
A few months ago, we read a mouse type news item – with our glasses on – that noted we had just passed the seven billion mark of humans on the planet.
We were a little worried, being in the boomer category until we heard Dr. Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University (check Wikipedia), give a presentation on Abundance.
The truth is, boomers are not only a huge segment of the world population.
They’re living longer.
They’re productive longer than previous generations.
They’re abundantly tech savvy.
Best of all, they’re big spenders — not just for themselves but for the C generation (i/sub-Y generation).
True, marketing people often focus on the Gen X, Y markets to sell stuff, while senior managers are looking around and seeing they’re edging toward a skills shortage.
And it isn’t a problem facing just one country; it has global implications because no nation can produce enough creativity, talent, knowledge to meet the marketplace’s demands.
It is true that every country has major unemployment issues; but usually these groups don’t have the training or the skills needed for the challenges that lie ahead.
Professional services company Deloitte noted that while for the past three years, firms were focused on reducing headcount; today, companies are faced with the bleak possibility of not being able to fill key positions with the experience, expertise needed today and tomorrow.
According to Deloitte, one-third of US manufacturing companies are suffering from a shortage of qualified workers (engineers, scientists, designers, senior technicians); 38 per cent of the rest expect shortages.
There’s no quick, easy fix because young people have shied away from education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Okay, that’s not really true globally.
China and India are focused on training the next generations of engineers; but for the rest of the industrial world, it’s still bleak.
Rather than get into a war for talent or accept less than qualified employees, companies are eyeing boomers, not just as potential customers, but also hanging around to develop the next generation(s) of newer, better, more exciting products, services, technologies.
Fortunately, pre-, early boomers are hanging around the workplace.
- have you seen your 401K lately?
- companies are making it “attractive” to keep all of that expertise, experience from walking out the front door en masse
- they aren’t old mentally or physically — according to a Pew Research study nearly half of the 50 plus respondents feel at least 10 years younger than their chronological age
So if you feel younger, want to/can/need to contribute to an organization’s growth/profitability; it’s important to stay abreast of our constantly changing technology.
Our kids don’t like to hear it, but devices have become popular across generations.
A majority of adults now own cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers.
True, younger adults are leaders when it comes to mobile technology, preferring laptops to desktops, smartphones for practically everything — internet, email, music, games video – and increasingly, tablets (iPad) for well just more of the same thing.
On-the-Go – Home and mobile technology is increasingly blind to age differences. The devices are easier to use and becoming indispensible to the way people work, play and entertain. Especially since young people look and feel more than their age and boomers plus feel younger than their chronological age. Source – Pew Research
Among the findings:
- Cell phones (increasingly, smartphones) are the most popular device among adults (85 percent own at least one) who prefer non-voice (pictures – 76%, texting – 72%) to calls
- Far from dead, desktop computers are still the most popular with adults ages 35-65 – 69% of Gen X, 65% of Younger Boomers, 64% of Older Boomers
- Millennials, C Geners are more likely to own a laptop or tablet (70% laptop, 57% desktop, 10% tablet.
- Tablets are rapidly increasing in popularity with adults 65 and younger usually as their third screen device
In it Together
In addition to being extremely comfortable with today’s constantly changing mobile technologies, the youngest and oldest generations are online and active.
Socially Involved – With major and niche social media sites constantly adding services and capabilities, they’re becoming a great way for people to stay in touch – friends, family, former business associates, professionals, school buddies. Almost any segment you want to connect with is on the web. Source – Anderson Analytics
The online activates are pretty similar across all age groups:
- Search engine use
- Seeking health information
- Getting news
- Buying products
- Making travel reservations or purchases
- Doing online banking
- Looking for religious information
- Rating products, services, or people
- Making online charitable donations
- Downloading podcasts
Even in areas dominated by the younger generations, the tested generations are making gains in such areas as online communication/entertainment activities–especially in using social media sites.
Source – Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
They Know You – The one fact that we can all agree with when it comes to the Internet and social sites is that the organizations can very precisely identify you by your key information – sex, age, race, income, education, you name it. This enables people with like interests to associate on the Web right along with interested advertisers. Source – Pew Research
In addition to staying current with today’s mobile world and staying in touch, the growing boomer population also uses its purchasing power to buy environmentally safe brands, according to research conducted by Focalyst.
Sorta’ figures if you’re going to hang around longer, you probably need to pay a little closer attention to your environment.
This large, green boomer population is often more demanding of quality in the products and services they buy (and they decidedly understand the differences in quality).
Environmental Concern – Regardless of the generation, men and women are interested in carrying out activities that will protect our environment and improve their individual quality of life. Source – Pew Research
The good news is they also have a greater brand loyalty.
A number of researchers speculate that buying environmentally safe brands correlates with age, and mature consumers are more aware of their legacy.
Other key Focalyst findings include:
– Green boomers watch less television, spend more time online.
– Boomers are increasingly watching/posting videos, playing video games, connecting across generations on social sites.
– Surprisingly, boomers with annual incomes of less than $50,000 are more “green” than boomers with incomes of over $150,000 (57% vs. 50%).
No Rocking Chair – Boomers have traded their TV time for surfing time on their devices and the Internet. The ability to thoroughly research products/services before they make a purchase for themselves or their family has become an important tool that they use regularly. In addition, they continue to have an interest in learning more about the world around them. Source – Focalyst
The number of consumers ages 50 and over will increase from 94 million in 2008 to about 119 million in 2020 — a 26-percent increase.
In the U.S., they represent 31 percent of the U.S. population.
By 2020, they will increase to 35 percent.
There a lot of times you question it; but as Dr. Diamandis and McKinsey note, the older population is sizable both in numbers and income.
As a result, they’re an important market segment for consumer technologies.
The CEA noted in their “Greying Gadgets” study that Americans over 50 are comfortable shopping for/using/working with consumer electronics.
Our kids never knew a world without DVRs, Internet, cellphones, mobile everything…we can’t imagine a world without them.
While they start from a lower user base, boomers are embracing technology 20 times faster than the younger generation, according to Accenture:
- 67 percent increase in reading blogs, listening to potcasts compared to one percent increase for Gen Yers
- 59 percent increase in social net connections compared to two percent increase
- 52 percent increase in playing video games on their mobile device compared to two percent
- 49 percent increase in listening to music on iPod or portable player compared to 12 percent increase
- 35 percent increase in watching/posting videos compared to two percent increase
Since 1990, the number of boomers has held pretty steady in the U.S., but it will start rising again this year as the country’s first true baby boomers turn 65. According to Pew Research projections, one-in-five Americans will be over age 65 by 2050.
This will put the U.S. in roughly the same position Japan, Italy and Germany–the three “oldest” large countries in the world–are in today. And with a global population over seven billion that puts a strain on everyone to be as overly productive as possible.
Fortunately, we have a few years before we hit that mark; but it’s still great see boomers will continue to make contributions and hear Dr. Diamandis explain we’ll solve the challenges that lie ahead.
It has to because as Det. Thorn pointed out, “You know, there are 20 million guys out of work in Manhattan alone just waiting for my job.”
He also knew the main ingredients in Soylent Green.
And we’re a vegetarian!