The Baby Boomer Effect



Many young people who grew up riding bicycles to school bought new ones in middle age to use as fitness equipment. 


Boomer women were the first generation to explore many careers traditionally occupied by men only.By Rix Quinn

Are you a Baby Boomer? Is your parent? Do you know what a Baby Boomer is?

In the United States alone, there are about 78 million of us. Every fourth person you see is a Boomer.

What shapes a Boomer’s thinking? Can all Baby Boomers still think? Do you care?

You really should care because Boomers can be major customers for years to come.

How I conducted the survey

In 2006, I compiled a list of questions. People receiving questionnaires were men and women born between the years of 1946 and 1964, the time span generally referred to as the “Baby Boomer Generation.”

During the course of two months, approximately 50 people were asked to participate in this focus group. Some people in the original group suggested others for participation. These people were also sent questionnaires.

15 ways Boomers could affect your business

Based on my survey, here’s what I think will happen to Boomers — and the many, many lives they influence — in the next few years:

After each of the following 15 points, I suggest some ideas — in italicized type — for OPE dealers.

1. Social Security: The system will experience a tremendous jolt as about four million Boomers per year qualify for benefits from 2008 to 2026. My guess: Boomers will be encouraged to work longer, and offered incentives to apply for Social Security at a later age.

An aging population, but one with higher disposable income because of deferred retirement, could mean more business for you.

2. Part-time work: As many healthy Boomers retire from full-time employment, they will seek part-time employment.

Could you employ some of these part-timers?

3. More college: A surprising number of Boomers will enroll in college undergraduate or graduate programs. This will create a demand for more teachers and more degree opportunities.

How about teaching a course in lawn equipment maintenance at the community college? Your students could soon become your customers.

4. Gender power: Boomer women and their daughters, voting in increasingly greater numbers, will determine Presidential and Congressional election winners for the next 20-30 years.

Think about creating more female-related sales and promotions.

5. Shrinkage: Boomers who once sought larger suburban homes — and still want to live outside the city — will soon seek smaller, ultra-modern, efficient, autonomous dwellings.

Are you stocking products that address some of these “property downsizing” needs?

6. Two-generation homes: Here’s another possibility: Many Boomers’ children may decide — after high school and college — to return home to live with their parents.

New credit restrictions may also make it harder for young adults to qualify for loans. This situation could trigger a demand for low-cost, low-square-footage, high-efficiency homes.

Consider marketing lots of high-efficiency products for yard/garden use.

7. More reality shows: This Boomer is convinced reality shows are only beginning. Today, we see dancing, singing, cooking and design competitions. What’s next?

Have you considered hosting in-store competitions or lawn-care trivia contests, then awarding some sort of prize?

8. Voluminous video: High-tech video cameras, great computer video editing programs, and innovative amateur videographers will combine to produce outstanding short segments suitable for airing on multiple computer video websites.

Think about adding some short (one- to two-minute) product demonstration videos to your website. Need a videographer? How about someone in a high-school or college video production class?

9. Radio: Radio will continue to grow in many forms, providing people who have different interests a medium with many new demographic segments.

If there’s a local lawn/garden radio show, you might think about running some short, informative ads on lawn maintenance.

10. Condensed messages: 21st century society requires condensed information. Look for new, shortened versions of books, instruction manuals, and news delivery.

Do you have a good customer e-mail list? Do you offer an online newsletter? Do you offer frequent incentives to bring good customers back to your dealership?

11. Destination events: Today, “destination weddings” are becoming increasingly popular. The engaged couple, family and friends often journey to a distant location for a theme wedding or special event.

Think about awarding local “yard of the month” contests, or hosting a “tour of fine lawns” (with the permission of the lawns’ homeowners, of course).

12. Grandchildren: My guess is there will soon be financial and educational products offered to support the education/training goals of present and future grandchildren.

Training programs on product safety and lawn care can provide a valuable public service to ALL generations, and perhaps create lawn-care and gardening interest in young people.

13. Volunteerism: I think large numbers of Boomers will begin to volunteer at schools, adult care centers, hospitals and charitable organizations.

Can you volunteer your time and expertise to community service programs?

14. Individually tailored careers: In the next 20 years, several new one-person corporations will enter the workplace. We will see individuals who make a living doing very specialized work for tiny market segments of major industries.

What sort of “niche marketing” opportunities exist in your business? For instance, could you become the local expert in year-around, in-store, lawn-care workshops?

15. Revitalized downtowns: You’re already seeing many cities rebuilding their downtown areas into large shopping, dining and entertainment facilities.

Could you become a downtown beautification consultant who helps city planners develop more attractive public areas and parks?

 Rix Quinn served as editor of OPE magazine for about 15 years. The publication was founded in 1959 by his father Bill, who will celebrate his 100th birthday May 15. Rix currently conducts specialized research for both media and education groups. One of those companies is Valpar International, maker of SIGI-3 job preference and job skill testing software for both students and mid-career professionals. For more details on this user-friendly, inexpensive (under $20 per person), Web-based software, visit or call Rix at (817) 920-7999.


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