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What are the right baby boomer market size numbers?

The numbers of our boomer lives.  So you launch your market messages with an assertion about the addressable market for a product. So one of the timeworn ways used is to start with a concept.  For example, they are going to turn 65 and are retiring -- or perhaps they are unretiring and starting businesses -- at a rate that is big, really, really, big.  So let's consider the following oddity. In 2010, boomers were going to turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 18 years. Then in 2014, you perhaps noticed a different phrase about boomers, including this one from AARP: They are going to turn 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day for the next 18 years. This caused me to wonder, what happened to 2000 of them?  Could they have died?  Left the country?  How many people there are in a certain age range making up an addressable market -- that should be fact, right?  Sort of.  I turned to Brent Green, an advisor to boomer marketers.

Hold on to your calculators. Says Brent: "First, we need an accurate statistic for how many Boomers are living in the U.S. today, which Matt Thornhill, founder of the Boomer Project, after much thoughtful data crunching, has assessed to be 76 million; this includes those 75,829,000  that are "born in the U.S.A." and factors in Boomer mortality to date, and Boomer immigration to date -- cohort population changes since our birth years that balance out right now (although mortality will increasingly take its toll when compared with immigration)."  Continuing, then:

Look from an annual perspective -- is this a market opportunity?  "Assuming this death/immigration balance holds true for 2014 (or those born in 1949) -- then 9,997 Boomers on average will turn 65 every day of 2014. The daily number gets even more mind numbing in 2022 when about 11,780 will turn 65 daily. The Baby Boomer generation involves nineteen, not eighteen years: 1946 through (not to) 1964, thus 6,935 days. This leads to a statistical average daily Medicare benefit qualification across nineteen years of 10,959 birthdays per day." Arguably, however, this is only a market opportunity if you can figure out what is unique, what has a resonating message with which part of this groundswell, and what they have to spend and will spend.

Boomers are seniors-to-be -- and in large waves. So as the boomers plow through boomer-hood, they will pass through crisp milestones. Discounts (multiple tiers), age-restricted communities, travel products designed for them, etc.  But here's some more -- the so-called population aged 65+ has risen to nearly 43 million -- according to the Social Security Administration, as of August, 2014 and within six years, has been projected by the AoA at 55 million. And by 2030, fourteen years from now, that number is projected to be 72 million.  Forward-thinking marketers should either move down-age (classifying the youngest boomers as, well, GenX) or up-age, trying harder to understand what the world of seniors is about to become in the Longevity Economy.

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As always, a thought-provoking piece, Laurie! Here are some more thoughts for you. The Pew Internet Project/Pew Research Center's "Generations 2010" report actually breaks the boomers into two generational cohorts: Older Boomers (1946-1954) and Younger Boomers (1955-1964). I can't seem to find the reference to this tidbit (I'll come back and post again when I find it), but a recent study I read said that one of the challenges of communities with the entire Boomer generation is that the Younger Boomers have a higher percentage of childless people (those who had children, had more children -- and a significantly higher percentage of Youngers did not have any children). Thus, this report noted that things will be even more difficult for Younger Boomers, because communities will be full with longer-living Older Boomers, and the childless Younger Boomers won't even have family to fall back on. It was sobering.


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