Boomers or Zoomers: Getting Older or Getting Younger

In the United States, 77 million boomers are celebrating their 47th through 65th birthdays this year.  Just how many of them think they’re getting old?

According to a Associated Press – LifeGoesStrong.com poll, although younger adults call 60 the start of old age, baby boomers are pushing that number back, . The median age they cite for the start of old age is 70. And a quarter of boomers insist you’re not old until you’re 80.

Among the top worries cited by respondents are:

  • physical ailments that would take away their independence (45 percent),
  • losing their memory (44 percent)
  • being unable to pay medical bills (43 percent).
  • Many fret about running out of money (41 percent).
  • Only 18 percent say they worry about dying.

These views bring into question the whole concept of ‘getting old’

When Does Old Age Start

At one time, three score years and ten (70 years old) was seen as a ripe old age.  Achieving that was seen as an important milestone to have reached.  If that was seen as a big achievement, then an age of retirement of 60 or 65 could certainly be viewed as the ‘portal’ when old age started.  That clearly is no longer true.

There are some who feel strongly that you should never retire.

That does not mean slaving away year after year at a job that is unfulfilling.  With experience one may realize that it is time to switch and consider a Second Career.

As many as 8.4 million Americans between the ages of 44 and 70 have already launched “encore careers,” positions that combine income with personal meaning and social impact, according to a survey on boomers, work, and aging by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, a San Francisco think tank. Of those workers surveyed who are not already in second careers, half are interested in them.

A more realistic view of life for many people is thus not that they pass a milepost labelled old age, but rather that they will have possibly two or more careers and do them all well as their skills and life-experience grows. The age of transition is thus the time when people are moving to second careers, perhaps supported by an early retirement package, a most inappropriate name.

The picture we are presenting is not the old traditional view.  That had you working a full and productive life and then retiring in your old age to a more vegetative state.  Even labelling that the Golden Age did not remove the negative associations around your decline.  The alternative we are proposing is a second phase of your life where you may have even greater satisfaction in your pursuits than in your ‘working life’.  We are suggesting an appropriate title for this is your Age of Opportunity.

The New Demographic

A better way of considering the demographics of this transition is to consider all boomers, however young, as a group that will now have new interests and will likely have the financial resources to indulge their new interests as they enjoy their Age of Opportunity.  This new demographic group can be seen as a marketer’s dream.

When Vespa Motor Scooters came puttering back into the U.S. market in 2000 after a 15-year absence, managers at the Italian company figured their biggest customers would be twentysomethings looking for a cheap way to get around. But execs at parent company Piaggio noticed something odd as they scootered back and forth to their Manhattan offices: The most enthusiastic sidewalk gawkers were often aging baby boomers who remembered the candy-colored bikes from their youth. It turns out that boomers have lost none of their affection for Vespa. Better yet, now they can afford to buy top-of-the-line models with all the trimmings. Much to the company’s surprise, consumers age 50 and older now buy a quarter of the scooters Vespa sells in the U.S.

Those older consumers may in many ways be the perfect customer for an indulgence like a scooter. “The boomers are particularly attractive because they tend to have free time,” says Paolo Timoni, CEO of Piaggio USA. “They’re less likely to be raising young children, and their careers are established and stable.”

For another example, just examine How Baby Boomers Are Embracing Digital Media.

This year, some of the nearly 80 million Baby Boomers in the United States have turned 65 and are now “officially” senior citizens. Need context? Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist and one of the fathers of the Internet, turns 68 in June. The web, often viewed as a realm for just the young, is getting older.

The Boomer generation isn’t just big — it’s made up of people who think and act differently than previous generations. As Boomers confront “old age,” they will certainly defy what we think it means to “get old.” It will challenge us to rethink how we use the web and how we engage older people with these newer technologies.

When Does Your Age Of Opportunity Start

It is interesting to see how views on the age at which you may start on your Age of Opportunity have been changing downward over the years.

It used to be that Freedom 55 was the concept.  At that age you should seek help in order to reach your financial security goals with solid financial security planning.  There was no mention of a second career or a richer and more fulfilling lifestyle.

In Canada, the Canadian Association of Retired Pensioners was one group defending and promoting the interests of seniors.  They have expanded the group covered by now using only the acronym, CARP, and the CARP website is now for those 50 and over and nowhere will you find that the RP stands for ‘retired pensioners’.

Moses Znaimer is the Executive Director of CARP.  He has promoted the concept of Zoomers with the tagline, Zoomers – Where Grownups Make Friends.  His company, ZoomerMedia promotes itself as follows:

We’re on target with Canada’s largest and most affluent demographic – the 45plus.  ZoomerMedia Limited (TSXV:ZUM) is a publicly traded diversified media company uniquely devoted to the needs and interests of Canada’s 14.5 million 45plus, aka “Zoomers” (derived from “Boomers With Zip!”).  ZoomerMedia offers advertisers customized and creative multi-platform campaigns to reach this coveted demographic.  Our media portfolio includes: National and Regional Television, National Print, Regional Radio, Websites & E-Newsletters, Tradeshows & Conferences.

Note that the Age of Opportunity among Zoomers starts at age 45.  This is also the age for those targeted by LifeGoesStrong.com, a US media group.  This is a network of sites for midlifers who are living well and going strong, with valuable articles on Health, Style, Home, Tech, Family, Work, and Play.

If you need any further confirmation that your second life or Age of Opportunity can begin at 45, consider Bill Gates. He stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000 at the age of 45.   He then pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was established in 2000.

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