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Baby Boomers and the ‘Silver Surge’

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Top Takeaway: What to know about the opportunity baby boomers provide, nuances in marketing to this group, and why Bloomberg Opinion columnist Andrea Felsted is predicting a “Silver Surge.”

After months of shutdowns and what feels like a never-ending pandemic, it’s important for gym operators today to keep a pulse on trends in the marketplace and be on the lookout for the most promising consumer groups to target.

According to Andrea Felsted, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries, a consumer group to keep a close eye on in the months ahead is baby boomers.

According to Kasasa, a financial and technology services company, there are currently 71.6 million baby boomers in the U.S., born between 1946 and 1964. 

“Many companies have tended to neglect baby boomers, focusing instead on winning over millennials and Generation Z,” writes Felsted, in a recent column. “The strategy could cost them dearly this year. Older generations are set to get vaccinated first. Once they’re inoculated and free to venture out again, they could drive a silver surge in spending — in some of the worst-hit corners of the economy.”

Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM, recently touched on the opportunity this age group provides; but acknowledged they pose a challenge for gyms in the current environment.

“Younger people are coming back to the gyms in droves, but the 60 and over crew, not so much,” said McHaney. “They seem more trepidatious about coming in, and that is where most of the nation’s wealth sits.”

As a result, McHaney said it’s important for gyms to focus on messaging that appeals to baby boomers and older generations, emphasizing the importance of fitness and health, which the pandemic has highlighted.

“[This group] needs to exercise more than anybody,” said McHaney. “I think that is going to be a huge opportunity, figuring out how to bring that group back into our clubs.”

However, before you start targeting baby boomers, Felsted advised there are some differences within the segment that marketers should be aware of, stating “those between 50 and 64 years old tend to be bigger spenders than the over-65s, and it will take a while before the vaccine rollout reaches this cohort.” She also warned that treating this group as “old” is a sure-fire way to alienate them. 

“Nevertheless, it’s still worth paying more attention to this long-overlooked demographic,” continued Felsted. “Even when the health crisis is over, the economic effects will linger. Younger people, especially the many working in retail and hospitality, will feel the most financial pain. Consumer companies better start speaking to the boomers.”

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Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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