When people talk of “older women,” images of the stereotypical grandmother come to mind. But while Boomer women (or, as I call them, PrimeTime women), likely may be grandmothers, they won’t fit most stereotypes. While yesterday’s grandma may have sat in a rocker, reading a book and sipping tea during her leisure hours, today’s grandma is more likely to be sitting at her computer, checking her investments and sipping bottled green tea, just come in from her tennis match.
Today’s woman 50-70 years old is very different from women of previous generations. In fact, it may be said that this is the first generation who can legitimately be called “PrimeTime,” for two reasons:
- As recently as 50 years ago, 50-70 wasn’t really the “prime of life.” Boomer women are the first generation of women to have the benefit of recent significant advances in health, fitness and nutritional awareness, as well as access to miracles of modern medicine like knee replacements and heart transplants.
- Additionally, 50 years ago, 50-70 wasn’t really a “prime marketing target,” either. The things we buy now with our discretionary income simply didn’t exist then. There were virtually no consumer electronics—no smart phones, no personal computers, no GPS devices, no Internet. There were no spas, no cosmetic surgery, no gourmet grocery stores, no home furnishing stores (except for Sears), no Home Shopping Channel, no personal trainers, no venti decaf nonfat vanilla lattes. There were few real investments besides one’s home, little participation in life insurance, and a good deal of reluctance to get involved in the stock market. (Remember, the great stock market crash was still fresh in many minds).
Fifty years ago, the relatively recent innovation of Social Security enabled most people to retire at 65. Note that when Social Security was established in 1935, the average life expectancy was 61. So, for most people, there were at best only a few years between retirement and death. Travel, hobbies and socializing were modest.
So who are Boomer women? They are women who defy historical precedent. They represent an inflection point in history- a dramatic, radical change from those who went before them.
And the opportunity for marketing to Boomer women is just as dramatic and radical. We now have an entire generation to buy our products and services that simply never existed in the past. For most companies, this amazing realization has yet to dawn on them—and I wonder when they will finally take notice.