The challenge of trying to reach 75-million baby boomers

By David Henderson, Publisher & Co-Founder, BoomerCafé

David Henderson

It’s once again become not only popular but vogue for corporations and organizations to try to market to baby boomers. I emphasize the word, “Try …,” because their marketing people have tried several times in the last 15 or so years, ultimately to throw in the towel.

When one big company starts marketing to the boomer demographic, others follow, like the fabled Alaskan lemmings that swarm helter skelter. I don’t have any idea what triggers the behavior but once again, baby boomers are the darlings of marketers with the perfect new car, retirement package and best motion picture.

About 75-million baby boomers … just in America.

In theory, it’s smart to target baby boomers. Many of us were affluent … at least, we were a couple of stock market busts ago. Many of us are fairly well-educated. Many baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – are or have been at the helms of leading organizations:

Barack Obama – President
Richard Branson – Virgin
The late Steve Jobs – Apple
Bill Gates – Microsoft
Gary Shapiro – Consumer Electronics Association
Lloyd Blankfein – Goldman Sachs

Anyway, you get the idea.

Perhaps the most common trait among baby boomers is independent thought. It’s darn hard to convince us to buy something.

I have observed these periodic and unpredictable baby boomer marketing cycles ever since 1999. That’s when I watched a bunch of 30-something people from AARP (and all too young to be boomers) try to launch a heavily funded attempt by AARP to connect with baby boomers. AARP spent millions on enormous banners and a slick website. It floundered and eventually sank.

Watching AARP struggle, Greg Dobbs and I got the idea for BoomerCafé as a way to authentically connect with baby boomers … because we both are members of the mob.

Today, BoomerCafé is one of the Internet’s most popular online magazines. We have hundreds of baby boomers sharing stories and opinions. And, the site ranks 43,000th most popular in the U.S., according to For reference, any ranking within the top 100,000 is outstanding.

Judi Dench.jpg

Judi Dench in scene from Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I suppose what got me on this rambling essay (another boomer trait is rambling, helped by age) is the new film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s terrific … funny, poignant, and connects with our generation. I bet we can all see ourselves in such a predicament. Heck, some of us may be looking for such an affordable place in a few years.

Only baby boomers can make a motion picture about baby boomers, in my opinion, because they get it. I also believe only marketing people who are boomers have any clue about how to reach our demographic just as I don’t know what might resonate with a 23 year old. But, there’s where most of the marketing initiatives crash and burn, regardless of funding.

You gotta be 55 to know what a 55 year old is going through. You gotta be in your 60s to know what it’s like. Believe me … the typical PR or ad agency’s 24 or 34 year old VP doesn’t have any idea how to reach baby boomers.

There’s never before been such a complicated and diverse generation as baby boomers.


  1. Hi David from Jan & David in Wales.
    Just to say as Boomers and America-philes we’ve loved Boomer Cafe for years and as Brits we sooh! recommend Exotic Marigold Hotel!
    Wishing you continued success

  2. AARP has floundered in its attempts to reach baby boomers … partly because few of their staff are baby boomers.

    1. David,

      I think that you are right about the fact that in too many places we have non-boomers trying to reach the boomers in ANY field. My particular focus is on the 50+ Entrepreneur. And, yes we have the same problem in that any business support group being set up is primarily for the benefit of Younger (18-34) entrepreneurs. Boomers/Elders are being painted with the same brush and are being taught by younger mentors/coaches, many of them don’t have any business skills or knowledge and are basically not qualified to instruct Boomers/Elders.

      We need more mature adults having the right business experience and teaching skills to help other seniors (50 plus) who want to pursue the entrepreneurial field in their Second or Third Act of life. Any ideas?

  3. Congrats on the Alexa rating and it’s the first time I come across this article (a little late!). I think you and Greg have done a superb job on this site and you’re right, it’s damn difficult to market to boomers! AARP (we are now in 2013) is trying again with a TV documentary interviewing baby boomers and maybe this time they’ll make it!

  4. Hi, While surfing the net I came upon your Boomer Cafe. I think it is wonderful with many great articles written. I wish we had something as interesting in Toronto.

    1. Hi Magda,
      Terrific to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to comment. Hey, there’s a seat at a table in BoomerCafe wherever you live in the world. You will find that our contributors are absolutely the greatest, and they live in many places. We happen to love Toronto and Canada, and would invite a story from you.
      Best regards,
      Publisher and bottle washer

  5. You’re right. We boomers are a varied lot and a global approach to us will only backfire. I doubt we’re going to change any as we age either. The advertisers will just have to get a little more creative.

  6. Congrats on the Alexa rating – impressive indeed! And thanks for sharing what got it all started. I visit often and enjoy reading the articles/stories. I keep telling myself that I need to write one too. Maybe I’ll do that. No time like the present, right? ~K

  7. I just organized a movie night to see “Best Exotic Marigold Hote” and really enjoyed it, I have printed a sign for my office wall at work that says “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end”…..words to live by and to take to heart for us boomers and everyone! Continued success with boomercafe to you and Greg. Wendy

    1. Thank you, Wendy. BoomerCafé would not be as successful without such a talented group of contributors as you. Thank you because you help to make it happen.


  8. Great to have this insight into the beginnings of BoomerCafe. Thanks so much. Congrats on the great rating!! More power to your and Greg’s arms.

  9. Nadine,
    Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those rare films that has remained with me. I think about the many various scenarios they packed into this most meaningful and timely film. I hope you and your husband can get to see it soon. The theatre was filled when we saw it.

  10. I’m really looking forward to this movie. Hubby and I went downtown to watch it a few days ago, but it was sold out! I think the key to marketing to boomers is to provide a really compelling product or service — we’re not going to dump cash on some crazy fad. I’m thrilled that there’s a movie for our generation and wish there were more!

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