Key to Economic Recovery
In 2011, the first of the baby boom generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. Today, over 76 million Baby Boomers exist, and should be renamed Economic Boomers.
As a statistical demographic, they control more than half of the discretionary spending, they hold more than 70 percent of the country’s wealth and a behavioral trend that indicates that they are still spending that money, even during the recession.
That’s why, according to one expert, they hold the key to America’s economic recovery and why the best thing American business could do right now is market to boomers.
“When the American economy recovers, it will be on the backs of Baby Boomers,” says noted author and marketing strategist Steve Howard. “Consumer spending is the backbone of our economy, and Boomers are still spending – they are simply being more selective than before the recession. When selling to them, you can’t ‘quick close’ them, you can’t corner them into buying something they don’t want and you can’t trick them into buying something they can’t afford. So, the best thing any business in America could do right now is to learn how to sell to Boomers. It’s not just good for business – it’s good for the economy.”
Boomers carry with them not only the hopes of companies that offer consumer products and services, but also the economy itself.
“When it’s crunch time in the ball game, you field your best players,” Howard says. “In a recession, the best spenders are the star athletes, and right now, they are Boomers. They are conspicuous consumers, but they are also smart consumers, and their buying patterns help the cream of American business rise to the top.”
Howard describes the characteristics of Boomers, and how they decide to buy as follows:
They are smart, insecure, caring, direct, confident and suspicious.
They’ve seen almost everysales trick in the book and hate most of them.
They are the vanguard of the consumer culture, so marketers and sales people have been trying to sell to them since they saw their first cereal commercial on a 12 inch black and white TV (before cable).
Sales tricks and pressure tactics do nothing but insult them.
They not only know the value of a dollar, but they also know the value of a penny. They’ll buy a $1,000 suit at Nordstrom, and then stop at Wal-Mart for socks.
They sometimes don’t make sense – they’ll remodel their kitchen with a giant six-burner stainless steel range, and then use it for heating water for tea.
They’ll bargain and haggle at the drop of a hat, squeezing concessions from salespeople. They’re favorite question is “is that the best you can do?” They know they are special, and they believe they should be recognized for being unique.
“If they are so difficult, why bother with them?” Howard asks. “The short answer is, because that’s where the money is. They may be savvy and egotistical, but they are also loyal and offer referrals to people who go out of their way to take care of them. They are a lot of work for salespeople, but if you can earn their trust and confidence, they will be the best customers you’ve ever had.”