Back to the Boomers: Why going back in time is still a goldmine

“The Baby Boomers were the first real consumer generation and show no signs of slowing down their spending anytime soon.  Neil Osborne explains why women aged over 50 are your most valuable clients – and how to attract them to your salon.

‘Does she… or doesn’t she?’ In the mid-50s, this legendary Clairol campaign was a breakthrough for the salon industry. It removed the stigma of colouring your hair, bankrolled the era of big business in salon services and catapulted women into the box seat of personal spending. Six decades on, the women of that generation are undoubtedly still your most valuable customers.

Everything we know about mass marketing, advertising and big brands was born in the late 50s and early 60s – the post-war era of relative prosperity and burgeoning consumerism. Suburbia was expanding, manufacturing was in full swing and it was the birth ‘boom’ of the first real consumer market of young people – born 1946-1964 – the Baby Boomers.

This generation was the first to experience a new life stage – as teenagers – that changed the shape of society, spending habits and the culture of ageing. Their post-war parents wanted more for their children and in return the Baby Boomers claimed new freedoms and spread an optimism about the future.

The advertising industry, marketers and big brands started an obsessive love affair with Boomers – one that lasted for decades– through their marriages, children, home changes and vacations. That is, until the early Boomers started turning 49. Then they were left for dead.

What changed and why? Typically, once a group of consumers reaches the so-called ‘cut-off’ age of 49, marketers and advertisers go back to the beginning and focus on a new crop of 18-49s – the next generation – who offer lucrative, long-term spending potential, as a new group of life-time loyalists to build and mine for purchases.

However, in their blinding rush to embrace the youthful X and Y generations, many marketers have failed to see that Baby Boomers continue to wield significant spending power, well past their ‘use-by’ date. They’re still exploring, engaging and enjoying new activities as their life style changes and in doing that, they’re continuing to spend. Big time.

So, what is their exact potential as a market for your salon and products? Let’s find out the details…”

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