Why Alpha Boomers Shouldn't be Ignored


The Media Audit FYI
June 2011

Not too long ago, a new term, "Alpha Boomer", describing a segment of the Baby Boom generation emerged among media and marketing lexicon.   We are all familiar with the term Baby Boomer, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as having been born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom years, 1946 through 1965. In 2010, the age of these Boomers spanned from 45 to 64 years and represents 30% of the U.S. population. Today, this group continues to represent the single largest economic group in terms of buying power, political influence, and economic prosperity. 

According to The Media Audit, 43.6%, or nearly half of Baby Boomers are between the age of 55 and 64, and represent the newly defined "Alpha Boomer" sector. Despite the presumption by many that these older Boomers lack buying power, one in five Alpha Boomers still make $100,000 or more in average household income and they are more educated than their younger counterparts, giving many advertisers reason to sit up and pay attention. According to The Media Audit, 18.7% have an advanced college degree, a figure that is 13% higher when compared to younger Boomers who are 45 to 54 years. Alpha Boomers are also twice as likely to have an advanced degree compared to those who are in the 18 to 34 age demographic.

With nearly 70% who are not yet retired, the typical Alpha Boomer has entered one of the most critical life stages, impacting their availability of disposable income and leisure time. Namely, the parental role of the Alpha Boomer has begun to diminish. According to The Media Audit, 49.3% of younger Boomers age 45-54 have children living at home. However, the number takes a dramatic drop with the Alpha Boomers; only19.7% has a child living at home. Translation - no more hauling the kids around in the minivan, and more time for adult leisure activities.

According to a recent national poll, Alpha Boomers are 20% more likely to frequently dine out at full service restaurants an average of twice a week, when compared to younger Boomers age 45-54, and 25% more likely than the younger 18 to 34 demographic to do so.  Furthermore, Alpha Boomers consume wine, attend the opera/symphony or live theatre, and even plan to remodel their home at a higher rate than many of their younger counter parts.  Among Alpha Boomers, 64.9% regularly shop at a hardware or building supply store, a figure that is 60% higher when compared to the younger 18 to 34 demographic, and 20.6% plan to remodel their home.

Alpha Boomer Stats

Alpha Boomers are also among the wealthiest consumers, according to the same study. Nearly 16% have accumulated assets of more than $250,000, while 31.5% have accumulated assets of more than $100,000.  Furthermore, many are willing to spend on big ticket items such as cruises (26.7% plan to take a cruise), hotels or resorts (29.9% stayed in a hotel 10 or more nights in the past year), and air travel (19.4% took three or more domestic flights in the past year while 12% took two or more foreign flights in the past two years).

Alpha Boomer's use of free time also translates to change in media habits. Alpha Boomers are 26% more likely than all U.S. adults to be exposed to a Sunday newspaper, and 27% more likely to be considered a heavy TV viewer. However, overall, Alpha Boomers spend 18% less time on the Internet compared to the typical U.S. consumer, and despite fewer of them having children living at home, one-third of Alpha Boomers are considered to be heavily exposed to outdoor billboards. This is based on driving 200 or more miles within a metro area in a typical week.

The Alpha Boomer sector carries with it another unique characteristic; the audience is predominantly Caucasian. Among 18 to 34 year olds, 42.7% are made up of Caucasians, while 27.6% are Hispanic and 15% African American. However, among Alpha Boomers, 69.3% are Caucasian, while 9.3% are Hispanic and 11.8% are African American. 

The myth about Alpha Boomers is that they're ready to retire and are slowing down. But  based on the proof that they over-index in luxury travel, car purchases, home improvement, dining, and entertainment, it's quite possible they shouldn't be ignored. 

More information on the Alpha Boomer can be found by contacting The Media Audit.