Monday, January 4, 2010

By Mike Belman

If you were born between the years of 1946 - 1964, you fall into, not only the largest segment of our population, you are a part of the most influential group as well. Over 75 million people, in the United States, make up this hugely powerful and major impacting group. Following business trends and how they are affected, one looks to the Baby Boomers, so where are they now and what are they doing?

Economic indicators are interesting to follow and taking a closer look at the impact the Boomers have had and still have, sizes up the state of the economy. Some say that this group just followed trends, but in reality, this massive crew not only influenced trends, they created and controlled them. The Boomers impacted industry and challenged every company that they came in contact with to just keep up, with this massive growth. Others say that the economic slow down is a case of the Baby Boomers reassessing their lives and making many changes. We will let you decide.

The baby food industry was the first to be positively affected by this incredible growth. Gerber Baby Foods was well into its 4th decade when all of a sudden they were selling over 2 million jars of food... Every day! As this group got stronger and a little older, they found their way into Toy stores and with some interesting, yet silly toys had sales that skyrocketed. In the 1950's, it was the hula hoop, Frisbee and Barbie dolls, that became the Slinky, silly toy, unless you live in house with stairs, and GI Joe. All of these toys sold like crazy and it was only because more and more Baby Boomers were finding them.

The food industry was one of the first to benefit and Gerber Foods did a great job. They went from selling thousands of jars of food per day to selling over 2 million jars each and every day. And this happened pretty quickly! Shoe stores, clothing stores, sporting goods stores all benefited as these people wanted everything. This was truly the we will try anything generation. Toy stores made billions with new ideas like the hula hoop, the Frisbee, the Pet Rock and one of the silliest toys ever, the Slinky. This toy was truly useless, unless you lived in house with stairs! They all flourished like never before.

Fast food showed up around the same time. Ray Kroc introduced a drive thru restaurant that kind of caught on. McDonalds was an overnight success. It became the local hangout for millions of kids as the food was tasty, the prices were good and it was fast. McDonalds was actually, in many respects, the predecessor to Facebook! This is where you could catch up with all the news and happenings of your town and the Boomers loved it. Burger King, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken were quick to capitalize on this trend, as well.

As they got older, the pager industry provided them with a way to stay in touch. It was not perfect, but we all know what it led to, shortly thereafter. The cell provided this aggressive generation a way to get more done throughout the day. They could work on their way to work, work all day and even work some on their way home. It was perfect. Well, almost. If they were going to be productive after they left the office, then they would need an office at home too. Hence, the fax machine. It was an easy way to convey information, send contracts and again get more work done after work, so you have make more money.

There is no doubt that this generation of folks wanted money. They work hard and deserve it. But, as they are now in gaining on being in their 60's, things are changing some. Many of them are sick of working in corporate America. Many of them started very late in setting up their retirement, so there is a greater need to work longer. Remember, this is a creative group. So, if they have not saved enough money to retire, they have decided to live longer! It makes perfect sense. Health Clubs and Nutrition companies are having their best sales in their history. More people are working out than ever before.

A long time ago, while remembering that someone 30 years old, appeared to be ancient, these masses decided that they would not grow old, or if they actually had to, not gracefully. So, hair transplants, Weight loss companies, Skin care companies are all on the rise. So, even today, this generation is having both good and bad influence of the economy. Some researchers are making the claim that because the Boomers are getting at least slightly nervous about aging, that they are not spending as they did in the late 1990's. Maybe, but others claim that because this group has the most interest in new technology and anything else that seems cool, that they will still spend but they are bored.

So, as the Baby Boomers approach the latter part of their lives, they want to work less, hence the increase in home based businesses, make more money, as they are tired of working for the MAN, want to spend more time with family, as they were neglected while they were voraciously climbing the corporate ladder and to maybe, just maybe, slow down a little.

Many of this group are actually seeking ways to make life more like it was when they were children. That is kind of an interesting thought. The life that they made for themselves and their families may have been rewarding on many levels, but all in all, controlling your life, instead of your life controlling you, may not be such a bad thing. So, be on the lookout for the 1st Baby Boomer to be running his company at age 120, while working at home, so he can be closer to his family and assure that his/her support system, lift support, that is, stays close by. Some people will just never get it!

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