Six things that differentiate a boomer from a senior

6 years ago


At the Blogalicious11 Conference a couple of weeks ago I participated in an afternoon Media Mingle organized by LaWanda Amaker and Zerline Hughes. Its purpose was to introduce bloggers to brand and agency reps. Bloggers had the opportunity to deliver their elevator pitch and brand people were able to possibly identify bloggers with audiences they were interested in reaching. This exercise brought one very important point to my attention.

I shared that I write about boomer-centric topics here at boomerwizdom. The company rep responded by saying they didn’t have programs for boomersand were basically only interested in seniors and young mothers. Further that seniors come into their establishment for the discounted breakfast and then just spend the day on the premises. I interpreted this to mean the company believes seniors do not bring value to their business and therefore were not valued as a market.

I was initially shocked by this response. I am thinking, “Can't this child see that I am not a senior?”  This is where I took her response. It is kind of like saying all black or all Asian people look the same. Okay, so this is not an apple to apple comparison:but this is how personal I take her response.

I had mistakenly "assumed" that everyone knows a senior and a boomer are not the same thing. I begin to point out the opportunity the company is missing with this mentality. But then I realize this 22 year old is definitely the wrong person to have this discussion with; and that her understanding is a reflection of the larger society's thinking about the boomer demographic.

So let me share 5 things that distinguish boomers from seniors and for the record state these are just the tip of the iceberg. This way you don't insult me the next time you see me.

5 plus 1 thing that distinguish Boomers from Seniors


  • Generally boomers do not see themselves in terms of their chronological age. There is in fact research that suggests boomers feel at least 15 years younger. Most of my unmarried girlfriends claim they are 15 years younger than their true age on dating sites. I am not sure this can be considered evidence, but it is a fact.
  • Boomers often have friends of different ages. I have friends 25 years younger than me that I socialize with....maybe not going to a club regularly but to festivals, concerts and lectures. In truth, I have gone to a club with my 30 year old son and daughter-in-law and paw’teed. And if Youssou N'Dour is at a club near me, believe me I will go there to see him perform.
  • We boomers enjoy an active lifestyle. Like what was this child talking about? The sense of adventure and a willingness to try new things is what I cut my teeth on in my twenties. When it comes to doing what I want to do, age does become just a number. And as long as I am physically able I will cycle, ski, and play tennis because I know these activities extend one's vitality and life. And any Millennial, Gen Y or X' ers who consciously wants to age young had better put these life-long practices into play. Everyone needs to keep it moving.
  • Most boomers view the Next Chapter of their work lives as a challenge. We are about reinventing ourselves. I don't think the same could be said about seniors and no disrespect is intended here. Seniors, as we used to understand this word, are generally retired in the old sense of the word. They have hobbies. I do know a few boomers who have retired in the old sense of the word meaning they golf twice a week and play Mah Jongtwice a week. But since the global meltdown, most boomers have realized we will be working beyond 62. So while there is some trepidation in our walk toward an uncertain future, we know the old lifestyle associated with the old definition of retirement does not apply to us. For us, retirement now has more to do with the freedom and flexibility to have something to say about how we spend our time.
  • Many boomers are making decisions based upon their values, not their possessions or what costs the least amount of money.  I, for example, will not do business with people who treat me badly or make no effort to understand where I am coming from. I lean much more toward a lifestyle of health and sustainability (LOHAS) and it's a state of mind.
  • Most female boomers do not generally look anything like matrons. I don't think there is an equivalent word for men.  But let me tell you,  I am not trying to dress like my daughter-in-law or Rihanna. But I also ain't trying to look like Mom's Mabley. You've seen the Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (NYDJ).  They have just the right amount of stretch and I do rock these jeans. And you know about Spanx for men.

I could go on. Really. I like to spend time with people that I can share with --- whether it's music, dancing, loving, discussing random things, eating trendy meals, giving, taking care of and/or traveling. These may seem like surface attributes but they are linked to both my lifestyle and to my values. If you understand this, then we are kindred.

Please tell me whether you agree (or not) that (a) there is distinction between boomers and seniors and (b) if businesses are trying to market to people like us, they will have a better chance at making inroads if they recognize us when they see us.

Comments and retweets appreciated.


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