I should start with a confession: my own personal understanding of the Baby Boomer generation is largely informed by television commercials. Now, I know television is an astoundingly imperfect reflection of society in most respects, but I have to believe that the characteristics and motivations of Baby Boomers have been extremely well considered by marketers for over 50 years – it’s not a demographic that crept up on Madison Avenue – and that research is painstakingly borne out by ad wizards. In the past decade alone, three industries have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to connect with the Baby Boomer generation as it approaches its golden years. As anyone with a television can attest, those industries are Pharmaceuticals, Financial Planning, and the travel industry (I’m thinking particularly here of cruises). And each industry, according to my channel surfing eyes, seems to have come to the same conclusion: Baby Boomers respond favorably to the prospect of healthier, more active, and more physically attractive lives for themselves and their partners.
If those messages indeed resonate with Baby Boomers, it would suggest that the benefits of physical activity would also be of great interest to members of the generation.
IHRSA’s own research of Baby Boomer health club members bears out that suggestion.
The IHRSA Tracking Study on Health Club Behavior, conducted from 2008-09, found that Baby Boomer health club members are, far and away, more interested in losing weight than their counterparts in the Eisenhower Generation, Generation X, or Generation Y. Moreover, 69% of Baby Boomer health club members cite “to look better” as one of their primary goals (second only to the 77% of respondents in Generation Y), while 63% reported “To feel better about myself” as a personal goal.
The Tracking Study also determined that Baby Boomers are attracted to programs for overall health/wellbeing, as well as a variety of equipment offerings.
Accordingly, IHRSA suggests that clubs implement weight-loss & wellness-oriented programs for the Baby Boomer market, such as goal-based small group training and spa offerings, and spa services and fitness/health screens.
IHRSA’s monthly publication for club-based fitness professionals, Club Business International, has also turned a spotlight on the Baby Boomers in recent years. “Rx for ‘Boomeritis,’” addresses the issue of injury prevention for active Baby Boomers, while “Baby Boomers and Beyond,” written by fellow Be Active Your Way blogger, Colin Milner of ICAA, provides a comprehensive look at the business practices of clubs successfully catering to Baby Boomers, including “cultivating a sense of community,” “creating the right atmosphere,” and emphasizing “human interaction and support.”
Obviously, the IHRSA information is club-focused, but the substance is consistent with broader themes. Programs focused on health, greater mobility, and/or improving appearance will be well received, as will personal connections relating to camaraderie and compassion. Throw in some pictures of grandkids in the physical activity marketing materials and Baby Boomers may prove to be the easiest demographic to target.
I know several organizations have research relating to Baby Boomers. What have you found? What resonates?”