Boomers Will Settle into 'Pragmatic' Buying Behavior by 2016: Study

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Boomers Will Settle into 'Pragmatic' Buying Behavior by 2016: Study

Boomer consumers are roaring into their sixties, defying the stereotypes of aging, and providing a demographic goldmine for marketers. But how long can that last?

A new study of 1,100 Baby Boomers gives marketers a first glimpse of what the Boomer consumer will look like and act like at age 70, said the Natural Marketing Institute, which released the research yesterday at the What's Next Boomer Summit.

NMI also said it will present its findings from the study at the annual gatherings of the nation's two largest professional associations in aging, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the American Society on Aging (ASA), later this week.  

NMI said today's Boomers themselves predict that when they turn 70:
-- 74 percent of them still won't be describing themselves as old
-- 86 percent will be more practical and pragmatic in their purchases, and much less concerned about trendiness and indulgences
-- 76 percent will be using technology to stay connected with family and friends
-- 93 percent will have more time to do things like travel, dine out, and pursue hobbies
-- 63 percent will be making some kind of move, but only nine percent of Boomers now in their 50's or older imagine themselves at 70 still in search of "the dream home"

"While Boomers will still be accountable for more than $2 trillion of consumer purchasing power, it appears there will be a fundamental shift in their buying patterns," said Steve French, managing partner of Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), the market research and strategic consulting firm specializing in healthy aging, wellness, and sustainability.

"Primary beneficiaries will be responsive companies that can deliver Boomers pragmatic value and style, such as restaurants offering smaller-portion Boomer specials centering on healthy, organic food. This evolving market, in essence, will be rooted in sensible luxury," said French.
Global public relations agency Fleishman-Hillard's marketing-to-Boomer initiative, FH Boom, collaborated on the study in conjunction with NMI's proprietary Healthy Aging/Boomer (HAB) research project of 3,193 Americans, now in its fourth year.

NMI said the study also reveals that the Boomer generation, which has a reputation for acting from dissatisfaction with the status quo, now perceives itself as being on track to unprecedented levels of satisfaction, happiness, and thankfulness. A full 75 percent of Boomers anticipate that "their best years are ahead of them."
Dr. Carol Orsborn, co-chair of FH Boom, said "the key is to think of boomers at 70 not so much as revolutionaries, but as 'retrolutionaries'. By this definition, retrolutionaries are the vast majority of Boomer-aged consumers who are aiming to get their monetary expenditures in better alignment with values formed at earlier stages in their lives."
Not all of the generation's return to its consumer roots will be driven by a philosophical shift in ideology, however, according to the research. The study also shows that the turn to the pragmatic is highly correlated to the fact that only 41 percent of Boomers state they have a secure, financially sound plan for retirement. Even so, Boomers anticipate that after paying their basic living expenses, they will have on average, 22 percent of their income left to spend on discretionary purchases.