Remember those old TV announcements, “It’s 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?” Those have come to mind lately as my son Marc, 17, enters his senior year in high school. He, my wife and I have hit the ground running searching for colleges. Like any parent, to me it seems like he grew up practically overnight. But it’s the college search thing that’s really hit home with me lately — namely, that a generation has passed.
This column isn’t about him; it’s actually about my generation. See, my thought process seems to naturally flow from this, “Wow, you’re growing up; you’re almost ready for college,” to this, “Aw man, I’m only a few years shy of 50!”
A growing number of apparel catalogers — and I’m certainly not addressing the Abercrombies or dELiA*s of the world here — may want to rethink how they market to us baby boomers. The numbers don’t lie: The older baby boomers are approaching senior citizenship. And although a growing number of them are going to be more interested in comfort than style, plenty grew up in the rock era. They still want to be fashionable.
Baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, represent 28 percent of all Americans, have an average disposable income level of $24,000, and average household income in excess of $70,000.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Needless to say, this generation has big numbers all around. So, say you’ve been doing a nice job selling to 25- to 45-year-olds. Your sales are good, maybe not outstanding, but you’re profitable. Considering that you’re just barely targeting the tip of the boomer iceberg, think about all that money that’s being left on the table. Why not consider expanding your line so it appeals to 46- to 60-year-olds? Maybe create a spin-off catalog just for boomers, offering slightly more conservative, easy-fitting clothes that still have style?