Boomers keep on spending

Canada’s slowing economy could get a shot in the arm from consumer spending by Baby Boomers, the country’s wealthiest demographic group, according to the results of a recent Ipsos Reid survey.

Despite rising fuel and travel costs, nearly 40 per cent of boomers plan to take a vacation in the next 12 months, the survey said.

Boomers also plan to spend on other big ticket items such as home electronics (35 per cent), furniture (31 per cent), mutual funds or investments (31 per cent), appliances (24 per cent), a car (23 per cent), and a computer (23 per cent).

The survey, which was conducted on behalf of the Canadian Newspaper Association (CAN), polled 1,980 Canadian adults aged 44 to 62. It is one of the largest polling samples of this demographic in recent years.

Boomer consumers
While eight in ten boomers in the survey identified themselves as having “big buying power”, four in ten said they feel ignored by advertisers.

“The research shows that at a time of ever gloomier economic forecasts, this is a group that needs to be reached out to, as it represents tremendous potential for growth,” John Wright, Senior VP of Public Affairs at Ipsos Reid, said in a news release.

“For decades advertisers have chased younger audiences to gain loyalty and market share,” he added. “In today’s economic conditions they might be better off to refocus on a group that combines maturity with money and a desire to spend it.”

“Clearly there’s a disconnect between who advertisers think they should be marketing to, and who actually has the resources and intention to spend,” said Anne Kothawala, CNA President and CEO, citing CNA research showing that 74 per cent of ad dollars are spent against the 25-54 demographic.

Meet the Zoomers
That advertisers vastly underrate of the spending power and purchasing habits of older consumers is a view shared by media innovator, Moses Znaimer, who recently acquired a number of media outlets serving the 44+demographic (including Classical 96.3 FM, and CARP magazine, which will be newly launched as Zoomer Magazine in October).

“The population bubble that was the youth market 30 years ago is, today, the market I’ve defined as ‘Zoomers,'” he said. “They were the dominant generation then… they remain the dominant generation now. Zoomers are a growing, vibrant and affluent community. They look at the world with optimism; they are engaged and aspire to enrich their lives and the lives of their communities.” (Watch Moses Znaimer discuss the Zoomer consumer on CBC.)

Zoomer spending power
Statistically, Zoomers encompass both the Baby Boomers who were the focus of the Ipsos Reid study (in Canada, ages 44 to 62) and those older. In total, it’s a vast group — 14.5 million, accounting for 44 per cent of the population, and controlling more than 77 per cent of all Canadian wealth.

Zoomers are the largest market for a number of industries, including travel, real estate, health and beauty, automotive, home renovation and financial services.

In the past year, for example, Zoomers purchased 58 per cent of all cars and 80 per cent of all health care products. They also enjoyed 55 per cent of all vacations.

Zoomers represent 73 per cent of households with $100,000 income and 83 per cent of households with savings or securities over $500,000.

Source: Statistics Canada Census Data, 2007

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