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Boomer retirees present continued huge opportunity, report says

By Hank Schultz , 28-Mar-2014

The report divides Baby Boomers up into six segments.
The report divides Baby Boomers up into six segments.

Baby Boomers, who have driven the growth of the natural products and dietary supplements space in recent decades aren’t done yet. A recent report from the Natural Marketing Institute says the impending retirement of millions of boomers will present a huge, but nuanced, opportunity.

Titled “Marketing’s Next Home Run,” the report looks in detail at how the attitudes of this group are evolving and what marketers can do to meet these shifting needs. One key takeaway from the report is that this is a shift never seen before in US society.

The parameters of this shift are huge: In three years, more than 50% of the US population will be more than 50 years old. And 10,000 of the 80 million Baby Boomers will retire every day for the next 17 years. And those retirees are expecting to live ever longer. The definition of ‘old age’ continues to ratchet upward, with most respondents to the question of when that begins within the Boomer group pegging it now age 68.  They want to live to be at least 84 on average and the average expected life span is 91.

New view on health

Along with this shifts in views on aging comes a shift in views on health, said Steve French, managing partner of NMI. The institute’s reseach shows that self-care is a rising tide within this segment, and it can only be expected to increase as Boomers start to increasingly show the signs of aging.

“What we see as a tipping point to health and wellness behavior is the 50th birthday. You finally start to realize that, yes, you should be exercising, you should be eating better. And if my blood pressure’s up, no, I don’t want to go on statins so I’ll find a condition-specific supplement that will meet my needs,” French told NutraIngredients-USA.

Another key change in this group is the expectation that they will age at home. This figures into the self-care scenario in a big way, French said.   But it is also true that many of these Boomers are caregivers, either for a spouse or for an elderly relative.

“As Boomers continue to be caregivers they are also providing supplements to those they are taking care of. Typically that is female skewed, so that is obvious things like calcium and iron and so forth. These caregivers will become the purchase decision point for marketers seeking to reach Matures.  As Matures get older they aren’t doing the shopping any more,” French said.

Market segmentation

The report, which NMI put out in conjunction with a marketing group called BoomAgers, divides Boomer up into six segments. The report labels these Medonism, Forever Young (the largest segement at 22%), Me My Body, Higher Consciousness, Mind Expansion and Rags to Riches.

“These categories are very aspirational. There are many different ways to do a segmentation mode, such as meal occasions or supplement use occasions.  Our methodology is quantitative and we went through advanced analytics.  These segments are statistically mutually exclusive,” French said.

For instance, the Forever Young group has values such as “optimism” and “prosperity.” An attitutude attributed to this group (whose average age is 45, the youngest of the six) is, “My best years are ahead of me.”  For the Rags to Riches segment the focus is on wealth and accomplisment.  This group has the highest net worth, and one of its attributed values is, “I control my own destiny.”

Social media message

The question then becomes, how to reach these different segments? French said the answer might surprise some: Even for this older segment of the population, the answer increasingly is social media.

“If you take a look at the growth of social media, the older the consumer, the higher the growth. Granted you have smaller bases you are working from.  The Boomers are adpating to the digital world because A., they feel like they are being left out and B., it’s a connectivity point that if you don’t have it you can’t keep up with what’s going on,” French said.

French said this developement is both a challenge and an opportunity for brick and mortar retailers. Shoppers in the Boomer group who have been loyal may become less so as they become more technologically sophisticated and more able to find alternatives on their own online. French advised retailers to have plans in place to use that brand loyalty to transition those shoppers to the retailers’ own websites.

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