Top 9 Boomer Markets

This 2008 list compiled by Forbes is as relevant today as it was then, so it bears repeating.  And right now, with so many Boomers wondering what to do in their “second act” or deciding whether to continue a job search or instead go into business for themselves, it’s timely as well.

This is particularly germane because who better to target a Boomer market than a fellow Boomer?!  And, besides the fact that this information was compiled by Forbes, a most credible source, this article includes the elements that make these businesses “top” for the Boomer market: They are in greatest favor with the most lucrative market – we Baby Boomers with the highest levels of disposable income, the highest levels of education (so we are savvy consumers), and the greatest willingness to spend our hard earned dollars.

Here are some statistics to support the smart marketing model of targeting fellow Boomers specifically and strategically:

  • 45% of the consumer market is aged 40-70 (Boomers were born between 1946 & 1964)
    That is larger than all the other individual market cohorts
  • Boomers spend a whopping $2.3 trillion annually on goods & services
    That’s $400 billion more than any other age cohort
  • In 2010, Boomers  control about 65% of the available disposable income

The bottom line?

  • If you’re considering starting your own business, these warrant close consideration (particularly if any one is your passion) for immediately heightened ROI results;
  • If you’re considering investing in someone else’s business, you’re smart if you choose one of these, and;
  • If you already own one of the types of businesses below, make sure you’re choosing advertising venues designed to specifically target Boomers…you’ll be very glad you did.
September 10, 2008

Boomers generate $2 trillion in annual income, own more than 70% of U.S. financial assets and represent half of all discretionary spending, according to Age Wave, a San Francisco-based demographic-trend tracker. “Although marketers tend to pursue the youth market, that’s not where the money is,” says Age Wave founder Ken Dychtwald.

Here are nine ideas for tapping that huge demographic:

‘Active Adults’ Residences

For Boomers who like to stay active but would rather have someone else cut the grass, gated communities with organized activities like hiking trips, community service projects and educational lectures have become popular. (Prime example: communities developed by Del Webb, a unit of Pulte Homes.) Demand for the next step–assisted-living facilities–should also continue to grow, though the permits and operating challenges there are myriad.

Health Club

Boomers are all about being in shape. Gym proprietors that offer low-impact equipment and fitness classes in convenient locations stand to do well.

‘Cosmeceutical’ Retailer

Boomers gravitate to “hope in a jar” products that promise to keep Father Time at bay. Little wonder sales of cosmeceuticals–products that straddle the line between cosmetics and drugs, like fluoride toothpaste–are growing at double-digit rates. While also sold online, cosmeceuticals are still viable fodder for brick-and-mortar retailers, as customers want to see and smell what they are buying. (They also score juicier margins than clothing does.)

Beauty Salon/Spa

Aging gracefully may be a state of mind, but it’s also a decent haircut (if you still have hair) and maybe a stress-relieving back rub. Best are salons/spas that offer hair coloring and cutting, manicures and pedicures, massages, facials, waxing and makeup services, as well as hair and beauty products.

Specialty Contractor

Boomers need to age-proof their parents’ homes (or their own), including handrails, handicapped-accessible toilets and showers, escalators and wheelchair ramps. The designs have to be hip, too–no “hospital chic,” please:

Green Galore – Green is the new black in the remodeling industry as energy costs soar and global warning takes center stage.; “It’s clear we’re living in an era of scarce resources and we have to adapt to that,” said Rick McConnell, senior vice president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions. “That’s more and more reflected by the companies in the exhibit.”

Geocel introduced its green sealants and adhesives at the show, while other manufacturers slapped a green label on their older products.

For example, the Icynene Insulation System promises to slash energy costs by up to 50 percent if you replace the conventional foam in walls with its soft-foam variety.

“Obviously, high energy prices are driving the bus,” said Ron Hruz, regional sales manager.

Even those exhibitors without green credentials, from bathroom accessory suppliers to home finance companies, got in the act and offered tote bags that could double as environmentally friendly grocery bags.

Going Gray – Suppliers and manufacturers are ready for the onslaught of seniors as Baby Boomers turn gray.

“Baby Boomers are doing more for their parents now than for themselves, but they have it in the back of their minds for down the road,” said Jason Multanen, national sales manager for Best Bath Systems.

His company offers stylish tubs with doors and wheelchair roll-in showers accessible for everyone. The systems are backed by plywood thick enough that grab bars can be installed without extra reinforcement.

Similarly, AKW Medicare showed off its barrier-free showers and a half-height shower door that allow a caregiver to help bathe an individual.

Room Without a Roof – Contractors are taking their skills outside as decks, porches and terraces become the next popular “room” to redecorate. The show even offered a deck design competition with winners to be announced Thursday afternoon. Next year, show organizers plan to combine its Deck Expo with The Remodeling Show.

Making its debut at a U.S. trade show, Norway’s Kebony unveiled its durable wood products for beautiful decking or siding. Regular wood is infused with a bio-based liquid made from agricultural waste from sugar cane production. The result is a stronger and more stable version of the wood, which retains its natural grain.

“It’s like taking pine up to the hardness of oak,” said Douglas Murray Jr., Kebony’s head of North American operations.

The product also wards off termites better than poison-treated wood, Murray said, because the bugs end up starving to death on the agricultural waste. To boot, it’s environmentally-friendly too, Murray said, because it uses bio-waste and doesn’t leech off the environment like rain-forest wood that’s now popular in high-end deck design.

Hot & Toasty – You can keep your hands and feet warm with technologies rolled out by two companies at the show.

Watts Radiant Inc., based in Springfield, Mo., introduced its electric underfloor mats. Heating coils are woven into the mats, and regulated by a floor sensor, which can be turned on or off at any time. The cost for an underfloor mat run about $800 and up, per room, and operating costs average about a dime a day.

In the bathroom, MTI Whirlpools provides tubs and showers with radiant heating systems. The shower’s floors and seat offer two heated areas for comfortable entry. The tub has two similar areas, along the back and on the bottom, so a bather doesn’t have to sit and lean against a cold tub. It also can come with an air-jet system that gives a light, full-body massage.

Odds & Ends – Avoiding that kitchen makeover because of the hassle? A solution is in sight.

Dwyer showed off its freestanding, temporary kitchen for homeowners in the midst of a kitchen renovation. The portable unit looks like a large stainless steel island with overhead cabinets. Depending on the model it can feature a breakfast bar for seating, a dishwasher, one or two cook tops, a sink and a microwave.

Financial Advisement

With age comes wisdom–but not necessarily about where to invest your hard-earned stash. Even financial pros have trouble (as all the wise institutions who owned shares in mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can attest). Assuming your clients aren’t looking for three stock tips a day, guarding their assets can be a fairly low-impact, low-overhead and scalable business (meaning that you can add more clients without adding a lot of expenses).

Errand Service

Here we’re talking activities like driving, cooking and maintenance (not nursing). While most boomers are still vital enough not to need these services, their parents may well be in the market.

Travel Agency

Many boomers have wanderlust. To compete in an age of Web-dominated trip planning, agents have to specialize–either by focusing on specific geographies or customer demographics, such as intergenerational family groups. “[Boomers] want someone to plan a trip to Hawaii where they can take their 100 year-old mother and 20-something children,” says Corinne Asturias, a boomer-consumer strategist with Minneapolis-based consumer researcher Iconoculture. “They want everyone to have privacy, but with at least some activities that entertain all.”

Nutrition/Weight-Management Consultant

Baby boomers are extremely heath- and weight-conscious. And while eating right may amount to common sense for many, there are plenty who seek extra guidance–hence the estimated $40 billion to $50 billion diet-products industry.