There is a great and hugely unsettling disconnect in the way advertisers and the media approach the over 50’s demographic, often painting Baby Boomers with such a broad brush that they become almost unrecognizable. “Senior”, “elderly”, and “unwired” are just a few of the terms that send Boomers up the wall.
Boomers, children of the free-spirited 60’s and 70’s, hardly ever fit into a plainly defined model. Some are married with small children, others with grandchildren, and yet others are in the double whammy, “sandwich” generation that looks after aging parents and college-age children—simultaneously. They date longer, marry more than once, and they’re into a hundred and one different activities, going about things in their own, highly impervious ways.
The truth is simple: if there is one thing people can take to the bank, it’s that Baby Boomers will go kicking and screaming till the day they die.
For a long time, the word “senior” was used to define the 50 plus demographic. Whilst it’s an easy handle, it has different connotations in different parts of the world. In Asia, for example, it is treated as a term that denotes respect and wisdom. In most English-speaking western countries however, age does not command the same respect and, on the contrary, terms such as elderly and senior irritate Boomers endlessly.
Why is that? Why are Boomers allergic to terms such as senior or elderly? It’s mostly because these labels come with a truckload of emotional baggage. While technically correct, for those of us over say 55, “senior” conjures up images of walkers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. “Boomers” on the other hand has a cool ring to it, reflecting back to how liberated and “anarchist” we were in the 60’s and 70’s.
“Senior as a term needs to be dropped off a cliff,”saysPhil Goodman, founder of the Boomer Marketing & Research Center in San Diego, USA, and Boomer guru to various US companies. “Boomers will never be like their parents and grandparents; in their mind, they’ll always be young.”
Echoing the same mindset and talking about the over-50 community in the US and other English-speaking countries, “They’re having a second middle age before becoming elderly,” says Ann Fishman, president of Generational Targeted Marketing, a New York-based marketing firm. “And they’re making it up as they go along, because it’s never been done before.”
Furthermore, Boomers are no longer “unwired”. People had better dump that term into the nearest sink hole. Baby Boomers no longer rely on snail mail, print media, and television for their information and news. Here are a few facts, courtesy of the Pew Research Center:
Another aspect of the Baby Boomer saga has to do with their longevity and aspirations. A few decades ago, most people had only a few years to live by the time they retired. Most workers retiring today can look forward to 15-20 years of free time and, thanks to medical advances and healthier living, remain active for most of it.
Lastly, Boomers have a huge impact as a consumer block. Across Australia, the UK, Canada and US, statistics on over 50’s reveal they purchase more than 40 percent of all new cars and over 80 percent of luxury new cars.They also represent more than 80 percent of leisure travel, and they buy 74 percent of all prescriptions and 51 percent of all over-the-counter drugs.
Will there ever again be sounds like those booming from the guitars and drums of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the BeeGees? or laments and lyrics like those of Bob Dylan? Truth be told, popular music and rock ‘n roll will never be the same after the 70’s. Artists and groups like that killed themselves producing harmonies and sounds that will live forever. Thank you, Baby Boomers!
If you love reading chances are you have been part of a Book Club at some time. I believe that the key to a great book club is the combination of insightful people with opinions reading books that stimulate interesting, challenging, thought-provoking discussion. But it seems no matter how hard you try to select great books for your book club it is difficult to decide on titles that lift your conversation from content and character to concepts and insights into the human condition.
If your book club is one where the members choose the books the big challenge is always how to decide on the books to be read. A great alternative to book store and radio/magazine/tv recommendations can be found at Rapunzel Reads, a new blog site written specifically for book club members by self-confessed book addict Kerry-Lynne Hamley.
Kerry-Lynne has been a member of many different book clubs not only in different cities, but also in remote parts of Australia and the Middle East. With a deep knowledge and appreciation of English literature, her reviews examine each book from the perspective of a book club member who may be considering what they should recommend to their book club. It is also invaluable for the person who loves reading and wants to expand their choices and their knowledge of contemporary "good reads".
This site is in its infancy but already there are some excellent recommendations for your book club or your own personal reading. Eventually there will also be brief guides to popular books so if life has overtaken your good intentions you can read the "cheat's guide" before you go to your book club meeting.
So visit and bookmark Rapunzel Reads, then next time your book club is considering what books to read next, or you are discussing books with your friends, you will be able to throw in some well considered comments about various books and impress them all with how well read you are!