• Jan 16th 2011 at 2:00PM
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2011Llincoln MKX (Ford)
Baby Boomers are defined as those people born between 1946 and 1964, a demographic that's roughly 77 million strong. According to the latest Census, starting on 1/1/11, 7,200 people will turn 65 years old, every single day.

Even more compelling is the fact that "spending by the 116 million U.S. consumers age 50 and older was $2.9 trillion last year -- up a whopping 45 percent in the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the 182 million people younger than age 50 spent $3.3 trillion last year -- up just six percent in the same decade," according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data conducted by The Boomer Project for USA Today. With numbers like that, it stands to reason that Boomers would be a highly sought after target market for automakers.

Yet many marketers largely ignore this audience for the more trendy, sexy 18-34 year-olds. The thinking has been that the younger crowd spends more and has more influence. Well, we now know that's not true. "Last year, consumers age 50 and older spent $87 billion on cars compared with $70 billion by those younger than 50," reports the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only do the oldsters spend more in absolute dollars, but they buy more new cars and spend more on the cars they choose.

But when is the last time you've seen a marketing campaign aimed at greying retirees? Car commercials are almost entirely aimed at a younger crowd. That said, marketing to the Baby Boomer audience is tough. The Baby Boomer generation, unlike their parents, is a much more vital, energetic, and consumer-oriented crowd. USA Today reports that Baby Boomers spend more on technology than other demographics, shelling out an average of $850 for their latest home computer, $50 more than any other group, according to data from Forrester Research. Jacqueline Anderson, a consumer insights analyst quoted in the article takes on the traditional notion that Gen Y consumers are the most eager technology shoppers, pointing out that they don't have the spending power of Boomers. The article also states that Baby Boomers are buying more Apple products not just because they are cool but also because they are easy to use. As much as any generation, Boomers appreciate ease of use, speed, and dependability -- along with style. So on one hand, Boomers are in a different phase of life, but on the other, they are far from being "old." Boomers are acting and living more youthfully and any previous generation of retirees and most are loathe to accept that they're aging.

So where does this leave the carmakers? Some actually seem to get it. From 2007 to 2010, the average age of a new car buyer rose from 52 to 56. Lincoln's average buyer age went past 60 in that same time frame. In acknowledging this, while at the same time trying not to turn off young buyers, Lincoln has hired "Mad Men" actor John Slatterly.

"Fifty-somethings can relate to him, but he's also cool to people in their 40s," said Matt VanDyke, marketing director for Lincoln.

Overall, other car companies would be smart to do likewise and embrace the Baby Boom generation and realize their buying potential. There's no shame in letting this demographic define your brand if the strategy is executed well, especially when this dynamic and important group has the potential to make -- or break -- your company's profits.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ford goofed big time when they dropped the Grand Marquis/Crown Victoria/Town Car. They sold by the hundreds here in Florida. Not to mention all the police cars and taxicabs. Ford management is brain-dead.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Most want cars that are reliable, easy to get in and out of, can see well outside the widows when backing up or trying to shift lanes, large clear instruments, easy to drive, with a few creature conforts but no confusing and distracting navigation systems or radio/sound systems. Then again, that could apply to most buyers of any age.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I am 66 and for thelast 10 years have paid cash for my Cars as a Female I have ben talked down to and almost ignored by Salesman,s I have walked out of a few Dealerships due to ignorant Salespeople.I never drive my Cars longer than 3 Years.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Goodwind what you make as a salesman isnt the subject. They may have had advancetrac earlier but we got it too and it is state of the art so American products are competing and winning because Japs are now scared at Ford products and their sales numbers are dwindling down. Nissan makes a good vehivcle but once again it is not American made and money does go to Japan and American Jobs with it. Foriegn vehicles always portrayed themselves superior and a decade ago i woulda agreed but not today. Ford is on their game and serious about it. All dealerships arent the same either. You worked for a crappy company thats all it isnt Ford it was a franchise. Good luck to you.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Born in 1956 I also am a boomer, In cars I prefer a vehicle like the Ponitac Bonnyville. Luxury and also sporty. The other cars really don't do much for me. So a mid size SUV is my only other option. Maybe something like Mazda CX9. It's just too bad the American car makers don't really know what their potential customers like.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Manufacturers must follow trends and markets but they do ignore many drivers who are happy with an ordinary sedan. The big Mercurys, Crown Victorias and Lincolns may be dated and relegated to geezer wagons and taxi cabs but each is a work horse, simple, well appointed and capable of long life. Economical on the highway, comfortable and very capacious, I owned one by default and felt sad when it had to go. A great series and ideal for a driver who wants a working sedan an d cheap to boot.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I own a 2001 Lincoln Town Car and love it. The odometer has turned to 200,000 miles without any major repairs. I am ready to buy a new one, it is too bad Towncars won't be manufactured any more. A really misguided decision by Ford Executives.....now that huge nitch of large, confortable, and elegant sedans left by the Towcar will be filled by Cadillac. Yes, I have no choice but to replace my Lincoln with a Cadillac.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Made in the USA-- try Toyota and KIA-- if you really research it--more Ford parts are made overseas than Toyota, most Camry's are made in Georgetown KY and KIA is building a plant in GA. JUst look up where the engines, parts etc are made for the USA cars--hmm- will make ya think. Outsourcing-- wonder what the Japanese thisnk about the Camry and Corolla being outsourced to the US? Anyway-- I am a boomer, I like a classic stylish car, but I don't care about flash and I definitely don't want a sports car. I have a GPS why should I pay so much more for the package to put it in the dash? I want totally adjustable seats, unobstructed views and something I don't have to crawl out of or get someone to help me in. It doesn't have to be so fast, but get decent to better gas mileage. This isn't that hard to figure out. Really-- just seems hard to do since as much/more innovation is put into new looks and glass/chrome as on the real car and comfort.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I am 67 and drive a lincoln Zepher, GREAT car (MKZ is the same car). Also, have a 2007 Jeep Gran Cher.LIMI TED/Hemi, never a peoblem. We have a 2003 Corvette 6 speed, getting difficult to drive. Will not buy G.M. or Chrysler; because of what the Govt. did. May buy a new MKZ or MKS; may for 1st time buy new Foreign.
      • 8 Months Ago
      As a Boomer, I echo Julie Roehm's thoughts that the auto marketeers are running on four flat tires. What is totally ludicrous is that Lincoln-Ford has increased horsepower of the Lincoln SUV, hence reducing the mpg three miles per gallon over last year's more than adequate speedy model. Perhaps someone should whisper into their engineers' ears that not only hybrids are entering the care-buyers' consciousness but also totally electric vehicles. wpsim1
      • 8 Months Ago
      As a baby boomer ('47) I have had to take a semi-forced retirement. Needless to say my two vehicles are going to have to surfice for many years to come. Yes, both are considered gas guzzelers by today's standards but having survived two major accidents in the last ten years caused by brain dead idiots in suped up rice burners, I will always attempt to keep real metal around me. To have state troopers not just once but in two seperate accidents tell me that if I was in anything smaller I would be dead has driven home the safety of the larger real metal vehicles. I know I can no longer afford a new vehicle so I definately do my homework and have my trusted garage do a bumper to bumper checkout before buying a used vehicle.
      • 8 Months Ago
      A 53 year old boomer here. 2 doors, no top, small, light, simple, and the mpre power the better is the best. The day I can not get in or out of any sportscar made, just shoot me. A hot hatch (which they do have here) would be OK to for a daily driver too.
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