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New Aged
U.S. marketers have been making money off their baby boomers for years. Want to know what they've learned?
By Pamela Rohland
Entrepreneur International magazine - June 2000

Whatever you do, don't call them old. Or elders. Or even seniors. The slightest whiff of age-related condescension could spell doom for entrepreneurs hoping to tap into the largest category of consumers known to this or any previous century.

In America, baby boomers-those born between 1946 and 1964-may not be able to stop the inevitable march of time but, as many are finding out, they refuse to grow old, even as the first wave travels through their 50s.

"If you start thinking of boomers as seniors, you've missed the market," says Ken Dychtwald, the 49-year-old founder of Age Wave, an Emeryville, California, marketing firm that targets boomers, and the author of Age Power: How the 21st Century Will be Ruled by the New Old (Tarcher/Putnam).

Boomers won't wear hearing aids, for example, although Dychtwald points out they may one day need their hearing enhanced by "audiochips." Craig Forman, co-founder and CEO of myprimetime, a new Web site devoted to the interests of boomers, has banned the word "retirement" on his site-with its connotation of rocking chairs and long, empty hours-and replaced it with "freedom"; myprimetime viewers will have "freedom accounts" rather than retirement funds.

When marketing to boomers, experts say, you should remember they'll always think young, no matter what the calendar says. "Boomers feel 10 to 15 years younger than their chronological age," according to Forman, 38.

With youthful mindsets and unprecedented life spans, boomers for many years to come will be looking for products and services to entertain and make their lives easier, marketing experts say. And if you can throw in user-friendly technology, too, so much the better.

Pamela Rohland, who plans to remain forever young, is a writer based in Bernville, Pennsylvania. Her work appears regularly in regional and national publications.

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