From Smartphones to Walk-in Bathtubs, Baby Boomers are the New ‘It’ Demographic at AARP Expo


aarpMore than 70 million Baby Boomers currently live in the United States — and data shows that they control the economy.

Individuals age 55 and older control 75% of the nation’s wealth, says the International Council of Shopping Centers, and nowhere was this more clear than at the AARP Ideas@50+ convention in San Diego last week.

However, advertisers aren’t calling this demographic “elderly” or “senior” yet. The ways in which the Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, spend are far different than the spending of those who lived through the Great Depression.

AARP’s Ideas@50+ featured advertisers who target Boomers with plenty of disposable income, the ability to travel, and an interest in technology, entertainment and healthy living. In short, with an average of $24,000 disposable income annually, they’re a far cry from the kind of “seniors” who need products to help them when they fall and can’t get up.

While there were products aimed toward more senior members of the Baby Boomer generation, such as walk-in bathtubs and mobility devices, other companies like Toyota, Sweetleaf Stevia Sweetener and Movies Unlimited were also at Ideas@50+.

Jack Parker, Vice President of SafeLife Walk-in Tubs Inc. commented that “the current buyers are getting younger and younger as customers now buy the newest technology tubs with customized hydrotherapy, Aromatherapy (fragrances) and even Chromatherapy (color therapy). Must new customers find the new tubs to be a luxury spa experience in their own bathroom. Therefore the trend of buying the walk-in tubs for luxury & comfort reasons instead of “fear of falling” reasons seems to be accelerating.”

Even smartphones were in attendance at the expo. One San Diego company, GreatCall, unveiled their new Samsung Touch3 smartphone at the expo.

Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, said it’s a mystery why advertisers focus so much on the coveted 18 to 49 demographic.

“Why to this day when we read the rating on TV it’s based on 18- to 49-year-olds? That seems to be missing this enormous chunk of income,” he said. These days, with Baby Boomers’ disposable income, Thompson stated that “there are fewer and fewer reasons it’s so overwhelming that the 18- to 49-year-olds are desired.”

But millenials aren’t completely left out. One booth at the expo, run by home builder Lennar, offered a look at a model multi-generational home, the situation in which more than 51 million Americans currently live.

But not everyone at the expo was interested in living with their adult children. One couple commented, “We downsized from four bedrooms to two bedrooms so they couldn’t move home.”

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