For an illustration, look at Cohorts where we have seven groups in which more than 80 percent would be in the boomer generation. These [individuals] are similar in median age (in their mid-40s), but widely diverse in income and interests and attitudes. For example, they may earn anywhere from $18,000 to $140,000 a year [median incomes]. Then there are factors such as whether or not they have children, their education levels, and so forth. (For two examples of Cohorts segments, see the illustration below.)
TM: As baby boomers grow older, what kind of mature market will they create? Will baby boom seniors differ from today's seniors?
Bickert: We've started to see a difference already in younger seniors: They're more health-conscious, more active and much less sedentary. They travel more.
If you look at the way old age is portrayed on TV ads today—those images are going to be out of date in five years. These seniors are not going to be grandmas and grandpas in rocking chairs on the front porch. They have much they still want to do. Many will continue working in their 60s and even 70s.
TM: What are boomers' media and shopping channel preferences?
Bickert: Remember, this is the TV generation we're talking about, so this group is very much inclined to respond to TV. Because of this, they are somewhat less responsive to newspapers.
The younger boomers are much more 'Net savvy, so we're likely to see more retirees shopping online, planning vacations online and handling their personal finances online.
The fastest growing portion of Internet users are older Americans. This means the Internet could very well be the next big medium—but that's only if the spam issue is addressed. The spam issue is certainly inhibiting the medium. If that problem is removed, e-mail could become a very important marketing medium for all sorts of products and services—travel, financial services, health, etc.