Although I was born within the years that classify me as a Baby Boomer, I’ve never considered myself as one. They seem wayyyyy too old and I’m not old. My parents were old when they were my age, but not me. And since Generation X expands into the early 80’s, those of us in our fifties suddenly feel as if we are the frequently overlooked middle child.
Case in point, I cruise, ski, zip-line and white-water raft while vacationing in exotic locations like Europe, Canada, the Panama Canal and Costa Rica. At my age my mom would maybe dip her toes into the Atlantic Ocean while we vacationed at my grandparents’ home in Florida. Every. Single. Year.
I spend my beautiful Autumn weekends with hundreds of other 50-somethings, attending watch parties at local bars or tailgating at SEC football games, including my wedding anniversary which happens to fall during prime conference match-ups. I trash talk my friends, neighbors and Bunco buddies who fly school flags or wear shirts proclaiming another allegiance. Neither my mom nor my dad ever watched sports on TV, much less spent money following a team that often loses.
I use and rely on technology regularly. And while I don’t understand how it works, I usually know how to make it work. Eventually. In their 50’s, my dad preferred to do his “ciphering” on long yellow note pads and my mom still carried a checkbook that actually ran out of checks before she ran out of deposit slips. I don’t even think they owned a calculator. And while their TVs had remotes, their VCRs always flashed 12 o’clock.
And my 20-something kids are not afraid to talk to me about ANYTHING it seems. Even stuff I don’t really want to know about. My parents were around my age when I got married and started a family. I didn’t even want to tell my mom I was pregnant because she would know I had sex. Twice.
So yeah, I’m not old. Not even close. But I’m part of what seems to have become the “forgotten generation” when it comes to marketing efforts being directed toward us. The marketing geniuses out there seem to think the only products I care about are related to prescription drugs or incontinence. While there may be a growing “need,” it’s not the only thing I want thrown in my face during every commercial break. In fact, it’s not even close to being what I care to learn more about. Nor is it the dominant focus of my similarly “young” peers.
Our energy is spent eating out. A lot. Casually and formally, with a spouse, partner or a friend. Or lots of friends. And not just at the early seating. We like to have wine or cocktails before, with and after dinner. We love to split a dessert. Or two. And we love a little live music that we can sing along to as the night progresses. We have no where to be and no babysitter to rush home to.
If we want, we can finally have a decent car. One with gadgets and gizmos, that’s still safe and practical, but also a little fun to drive. And one that finally won’t smell like soccer cleats or half eaten sandwiches that were pushed under the seat.
We strive to wear clothes that are flattering and fashionable, that cover our muffin tops and flabby arms without looking like Omar the tentmaker’s wife or, even worse, like a teenager. And we want to wear cute shoes that are comfortable, but don’t look like what the lunch lady would wear to work every day. I think this goes for the men as well.
We enjoy having different views, and I don’t mean politically. Traveling near, far, local, long distance – some of us like the comfort, security and refuge of going to the same place over and over. Some of us like to go different places and explore new things. Some of us just mix things up simply by moving from the front yard to the back. But we like that we have the freedom of doing lots of activities or doing absolutely nothing while there. Call it ADHD for the generation that didn’t get it diagnosed or treated.
Oh, and we also spend lots of time and money on our pets. We aren’t all crazy cat ladies, but we do enjoy pampering someone (something) now that the nest is empty. The companionship is welcome, even if it’s four-legged. And I know a few men who treat their pets like babies too.
Well, while our kids may think we are old, we don’t think we are. It would be nice if the folks on Madison Avenue (or wherever you ad guys are located in 2016) would rekindle a marketing love affair with those of us that feel we’ve been lost between the sofa cushions. I can help you find me and a lot more like me. So Corporate America, let’s do some market research, because you might think we are a lost cause, but like the middle child, we are just waiting on someone to make us feel loved and special.