January 27, 2011

Preliminary Research: Baby Boomers

  • Defining a Baby Boomer


Beginning with the secondary research, we thought it would be a good idea to see what makes this generation worth having its own name. Baby boomers are all of the Americans born between the years 1946 and 1964 beginning after World War II ended(this is also a generation in other countries like Canada, Australia, Great Britain, etc. But they have different names for this group in those countries) . Now, this group is about 29% of the population, about 75 million. But it's not just the time in which they were born. More definitely, it is the time during which they grew up that makes them so special.

BabyBoomerHeadQuarters is a great overview source for this. Fascinating stuff!


  • Boomers represent the majority of the work force, although, this is beginning to shift.
  • The huge growth of the economy is because of boomers reaching their peak earning and spending years.
  • Biggest buying group, currently-dominating big-ticket spending in areas like travelling (vacations), car sales, etc.
  • Day care centers largely came to existence because boomers (so they also began the shift from staying home to take care of their kids)
  • largely, advertising has been following this generation since they were kids. The story goes like this:

30 million baby boomers are around by 1950. Who comes along? Gerber, now probably the best known baby food company. The kids start to grow, and so does the toy industry, at a ridiculously fast pace. TV is just becoming big. So is children's programming. Disneyland pops up in in the 1950s as well. Later, in the 70s (now that the kids are a little older) Disneyworld is build and filled with thrill rides. Flashy cars of the 60s and 70s are also a result of catering to the Boomers.

Other products that are getting big because of this subculture: "active retirement communities and vacation homes, skin creams, tooth whitening goo, cosmetic surgery, lasik surgery, Depends, and, of course, the Hair Club for Men."*

And because I don't want to type this all out, I'll copy this directly:

Social Impact:

"Aside from that, what impact on society are boomers having? Well, let's see now... the CEO of General Electric is a boomer; the CEO of IBM is a boomer; the CEO of Ford is a boomer; Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) are boomers; Steve Jobs is a boomer; Steven Spielberg is a boomer; Ron Howard is a boomer; Tom Hanks is a boomer; Denzel Washington is a boomer; Meg Ryan is a boomer; Michael Jordon is a boomer. The producers of most TV shows and movies are boomers. The editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal (Paul Gigot) is a boomer. Rush Limbaugh is a boomer; Oprah is a boomer; Barack Obama is a boomer; Mitt Romney is a boomer. Madonna is a boomer; Bruce Springsteen is a boomer; Tom Cruise is a boomer; David Letterman is a boomer; Jay Leno is a boomer; Dr. Laura is a boomer. Clarence Thomas is a boomer; Sean Hannity is a boomer; Glenn Beck is a boomer; Al Gore is a boomer; Bill and Hillary Clinton are boomers; Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve System, is a boomer; Sarah Palin is a boomer; Osama bin Laden is a boomer; George Bush is a boomer; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is a boomer; every potential candidate for the Supreme Court for the next 20 years will likely be a boomer."

25 Defining Images in Baby Boomer History - pretty self-explanatory

Wikipedia Information

"As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time."

"In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.[4] This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon."


"Jones Generation" - the second half of the baby boomers generation. The name comes from the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." Supposedly, the Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 60s, and then were confronted with a different reality in the 70s and 80s. Also, it seems they are "less optimistic, distrust of government, and general cynicism."

"Golden Boomers" - Boomers who are retired or will retire from an occupation or profession.

In the 1985 study of US generational cohorts by Schuman and Scott, a broad sample of adults was asked, "What world events over the past 50 years were especially important to them?" For the baby boomers the results were:

  • Baby Boomer cohort #1 (born from circa 1946 to 1955), the young cohort who epitomized the cultural change of the sixties
  • Baby Boomer cohort #2 or Generation Jones (born from circa 1956–1964)
    • Memorable events: Watergate, Nixon resigns, the Cold War, lowered drinking age in many states 1970-1976 (followed by raising), the oil embargo, raging inflation, gasoline shortages, Jimmy Carter's imposition of registration for the draft, disco music from Donna Summer and The Bee Gee's, punk or new wave from The Clash and Deborah Harry and techno pop to Annie Lennox and MTV.
    • Key characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government, general cynicism
    • Key members: Douglas Coupland who initially was called a Gen Xer but now rejects it and President Barack Obama who many national observers have recently called a post-Boomer, and more specifically part of Generation Jones

CURRENT CONCERNS (pre interview assumptions)

"Baby Boomers control over 80% of personal financial assets and more than 50% of discretionary spending power. They are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, buy 77% of all prescription drugs, 61% of OTC medication and 80% of all leisure travel."*

boomers start retiring during 2007–2009.

With a grain of salt, since this is from a 1993 article:

42% of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. The boomers returning to religion were "usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality."

As of 1998, it was reported that, as a generation, boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long-term planning.

Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care.

Alzheimer's Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers

Retirements Swallowed by Debt


Continuing work after retirement

New Issues as Boomers continue to Age

Social Security Insecurity

too-young-to-retire-and-too-old-to-rehire - an article dispelling myths about Boomer's

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