Generation Ageless

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2007-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Generation Ageless-an authoritative and eye-opening look at the past, present, and future of Baby Boomers Think Baby Boomers are all alike? Think again. This dynamic generation is nearing the traditional age of retirement, but is in no mood to slow down. Learn how to market, sell to, do business with, or just understand this remarkable generation, from Yankelovich, Inc., the organization that knows them better than anyone else. Yankelovich actually coined the term "Baby Boomer" back in the late 1960s, when they first started collecting data on this influential generation. Now, more than thirty years later, they have the most complete information on Boomers ever assembled. And they have put it all together in this groundbreaking look at America's largest and most powerful generation. In Generation Ageless, Yankelovich president J. Walker Smith, Ph.D., and senior partner Ann Clurman, Boomers themselves, dig deep into what makes this generation tick. With fresh, original data and a wide-ranging look at everything about Boomers, they dissect Boomers into six major segments-Straight Arrows, Due Diligents, Maximizers, Sideliners, Diss/Contenteds, and Re-Activists-to provide new insights into the world's most talked-about generation. The results show key imperatives invaluable to anyone selling a product, service, or idea to this 78-million strong group. Boomers are the dominant generation in America. Their values and aspirations set the tone for everyone. Advances in medicine and health mean that this youth-obsessed generation is now focused on an everlasting prime of life. They are literally middle age-less: holding onto their position at the top of the pyramid for as long as possible, and not fading away to their golden years. Today's fifty- and sixty-year-old Boomers are not eagerly anticipating lives of disengaged retirement. Instead, middle age-less Boomers expect another twenty or thirty years of impact and influence-albeit in a variety of ways reflective of a surfeit of agendas and ambitions they have yet to fulfill.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Going the Distancep. xiii
Ka-Boom!p. 3
Not Getting Oldp. 21
Working on Matteringp. 41
A Life of Self-Inventionp. 64
Marketing Immortalityp. 88
Having a Purposep. 115
A Healthy Attitudep. 135
Reconnectingp. 159
Agendas for the Futurep. 176
Breaking Every Rulep. 200
Selected Study Data in Total and by Segmentsp. 217
Notesp. 257
Indexp. 275
About the Authorsp. 285
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Generation Ageless
How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Live Today…And They’re Just Getting Started

Chapter One


Nobody saw them coming, this explosion of people known as Baby Boomers. Seventy-eight million strong, they were beyond imagination. The biggest generation in American history took America by surprise.

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, birth rates were dropping and population growth was slowing. During the 1930s, government demographers worried aloud that the U.S. population would plateau around 148 million and maybe even decline by century's end, a prospect that was doubly alarming in the context of the political and economic turmoil darkening the globe during that time.

Demand is the fundamental, necessary platform for growth and innovation, so extrapolation of these declining population trends into the future augured shrinking business prospects and an attenuating marketplace. This dismal view of the future was unhappy and unwelcome, but the trend lines offered no evidence to expect anything else.

The Baby Boom changed these trend lines. Immediately following the end of World War II, the birth rate soared. The boom had begun and it wouldn't subside for nearly two decades. Without notice or warning, in defiance of all trends and expectations, Baby Boomers exploded onto the American scene, and in the process changed everything. Demographers' fears were quickly put to rest. By the end of 1949, a mere four years into the Baby Boom, the U.S. population had soared well past 148 million.

Although a surprise at the time, there is no ignoring Baby Boomers now. Every other generation gets defined by and measured against them. Everything associated with them is interminably scrutinized, usually yielding yet another Boomer cliché. But trite though they may be at times, Baby Boomers are anything but trivial. From infancy to maturity, they have been the driving economic force in the American economy, and thus the world, for the past sixty years. Even as they age, they will continue to dominate the marketplace.

Baby Boomers, more than any other demographic group, will shape the future of the marketplace. They are in control and will remain so for decades to come. For Boomers, getting older does not mean resigning oneself to a deceleration into death. They will continue to be actively involved in their lifestyles, spending lots of money and searching for more new things to try.

The essential thing to know about Boomers is simple yet profoundly important: Do not count them out because they are aging. They are going to continue to matter.

There is no group now or ever before with the power of Baby Boomers to move markets and spark change. Baby Boomers are a generational phenomenon unlike any other.

Boomers have always wanted to be the catalyst for change. Their huge numbers and eager ambitions made this easy to do in years past. But now that they are aging, the question arises as to whether Boomers will continue to matter, and if so, in what way. Numbers notwithstanding, ask skeptics, is it possible for aging Baby Boomers to continue to matter? Indeed, will they even want to in the first place?

Resoundingly, Boomers answer both questions in the affirmative. They have no intention of retiring from the scene. Baby Boomers stand at the threshold of a future that will give them unprecedented opportunities to remain vital, vigorous, and valuable in virtually undiminished proportions. The sustained, active engagement of aging Baby Boomers will be possible as never before, not to mention a lot more necessary.

Yet they still seem to catch marketers by surprise. Their vigorous, relentless engagement with their lifestyles and the marketplace has always meant a style of consumerism that can't be predicted by extrapolation from the past. Baby Boomers have never wanted to follow tradition or model themselves on those before them. They have been determined to do things differently and to invent for themselves a superior approach. They have thrived with a generational sense of spirited youthfulness that, more often than not, has meant a willingness to and enthusiasm for breaking the rules. This Boomer brio will not diminish with age.

Marketers shouldn't expect Baby Boomers to turn into "old" people just because they are now aging into their senior years. Boomers have an undying commitment to growth, exploration, and possibility that cannot be mapped by plotting a trend line based on the physical declines of old age or life-stage progressions into retirement. Boomers will age, but they won't get old. And in this nullification of age as it is typically understood and envisioned, they will continue to take America by surprise.

Exploding onto the Scene

Defining the Baby Boom has long been a popular quarrel among pundits and trend watchers. But it's a debate in vain, because the Boom defines itself unambiguously. Above all else, the Baby Boom is a population phenomenon. It's all about numbers.

Two demographic charts show this clearly. The first, Figure 1-1, shows annual fertility rates from 1909 to 2006. Annual fertility rates are the actual number of live births per thousand women of childbearing age (defined by demographers as ages fifteen to forty-four). The trend seen here is one of long-term decline. From nearly 127 births per thousand in 1909, there was a steady drop until the end of World War II. Births per thousand fell below one hundred in 1927 and did not exceed that level again until 1946, the first year of the Baby Boom.

During the war years of 1940 to 1945, there was an inkling of change as births per thousand began to inch upward. But this turnaround was small in comparison to what came next and offered no hint of the huge surge just around the corner. From 1946 to 1964, births per thousand were always above one hundred, peaking in 1957 at nearly 123. In 1965, births per thousand dropped below one hundred again, eventually bottoming out at much lower levels in the mid- to high sixties.

Generation Ageless
How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Live Today…And They’re Just Getting Started
. Copyright © by J. Walker Smith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Generation Ageless: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Live Today and They're Just Getting Started by J. Walker Smith, Ann Clurman
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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