Rediscovering the forgotten niche: boomers
What's this? The forgotten baby boomer suddenly back in the limelight as a valuable market worthy of innovation and attention? Boomers and retirees are now in vogue as a sought-after market for advertisers?
You betcha. Mary Furlong is the author of the book, Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace. In an interview Friday, she said baby boomers — folks stretching from their latter 40s to early 60s — will be more global, live longer and seek others with shared interests more than ever (geographically but especially via the Internet). But boomers also will contend with the challenges of aging, ranging from loneliness and health care to financial matters. And the country, Furlong says, is only starting to wake up to the opportunities in the marketplace of serving this large piece of the population. Furlong, by the way, started SeniorNet long ago, heads Mary Furlong & Associates and also is the dean's executive professor of entrepreneurship at Santa Clara (California) University's Leavey School of Business. Says Furlong:
"Demographics do not lie. There will still be an older population and they will need services."
Furlong is also one of many speakers at the May 12 Florida Boomer Lifestyle Conference (here's the conference blog) to be held at the Tampa Convention Center. The event is the brainchild of St. Petersburg's Michelle Bauer and Tampa's Deanne Roberts and features such diverse speakers as Mark Hines, who is responsible for the 55+ segment for Verizon and Verizon Wireless, Gail Sheehy, who wrote the widely read 1984 book Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life and has a new book due out next year called The Labyrinth of Caregiving, and boomer marketing expert Matt Thornhill of The Boomer Project.
At the Tampa conference next month, Furlong will focus on the new challenges boomers face in recovering from stock market losses to their retirement accounts and re-engaging in the workplace. Boomers will need to become far more entrepreneurial, she says and cites journalist Tina Brown's use of the "gig" economy. Boomers, says Furlong, will need a "working gig." Adds Furlong:
"We have to introduce this new sensibility of taking responsibility for our financial future because pensions and Social Security are not the rock solid institutions we thought they were to finance our longevity."
If you wonder if rediscovering boomers is a real trend, check out Stuart Elliott's "On Advertising" column in today's New York Times, headlined: "The Older Audience Is Looking Better than Ever."
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist