Baby boomer adults and their teenage/young adult children sharing suburban homes
Boomers and Boomerangs are a contemporary consumer segment consisting of baby boomer- aged parents and their grown-up children living under the same roof. In these upscale households, most of the parents are in their 50s and early 60s while most of their children are teenagers and young adults in their 20s. With their college educations and incomes from multiple household members, segment has incomes nearing six figures from a variety of white- collar, blue-collar and service-sector jobs. Boomers and Boomerangs typically live in relatively new subdivisions in the suburban sprawl of large and second-tier cities around the country. This 21st century family segment represents stable households where the older adults moved into their homes more than 15 years ago, watched their children grow up and leave the nest - only to have them return. What they thought was going to be converted to a home office or exercise room is once again a messy bedroom.
As a result of these two age groups, the Boomers and Boomerangs segment has eclectic interests, with interest in in-line skating and motorcycling as well as bird watching and fishing. However, the adults young and old share many passions - especially for sports, consumer electronics and nightlife. This segment scores high for cycling, boating, and archery activities along with going to nightclubs, concerts and movie theaters. Many members like to go to pro and college sports events, particularly if there’s a chance to meet for tailgate parties.
Despite the upscale incomes found in these cluttered nests, many Boomers and Boomerangs are concerned about money. They tend to be price-sensitive shoppers who buy economy cars and off-the-rack clothes from discount retail stores. They seem to care little about wearing designer clothes or filling their homes with the latest housewares. At this stage in their busy lives, gourmet cuisine is not a priority over saving time. Instead, they enjoy visiting restaurants that have a more family-friendly adult atmosphere such as Outback Steak House, Chili’s, Olive Garden and TGI Friday’s.
The generation gap notwithstanding, Boomers and Boomerangs enjoy a variety of media. They read newspapers and listen to drive-time radio, sharing a fondness for stations that feature news, sports and classic rock. They like watching primetime TV, especially premium channels and networks that offer dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. They’re slowly losing their interest in magazines, at least the paper-based editions, and are shifting to the Internet for features and commentary. Indeed, they are enthusiastic web users, going online for banking, travel planning, searching for jobs and gaming. Both Facebook and WebMD are popular sites, reflecting the generational divide in this segment.
Perhaps surprisingly, the values in Boomers and Boomerangs are less conflicted than one might imagine. These households are mostly traditionalists; the largest percentage align themselves with the Republican Party and espouse right-of-center attitudes. These Americans tend to be fairly blasé about environmental concerns. While they may be on a detour from what they thought was going to be their quiet empty nest, these Boomers are mostly happy to be able to help their Boomerangs. They appreciate the close ties they have with their children. In a choice between advancing their careers and spending more time with their families, the kids - no matter how old - still rule.
The members of the postwar baby boom have all grown up - and so have their children who have returned to the nest. Boomers and Boomerangs consist of these two generations sharing single-family homes. Some 85 percent of the household heads are between 51 and 65 years old. Meanwhile, nearly 40 percent of households contain young adults - the highest percentage in the nation. Most of these families are white and well-educated; nearly three-quarters has either a bachelor’s or graduate degree. With so many adult children at home, nearly two-thirds of households report multiple earners holding a mix of white-collar, blue-collar and service jobs.
Boomers and Boomerangs share relatively new homes in suburban areas widely scattered around the country. Their houses, worth an average of $235,000, were mostly built between 1970 and 2000. Their suburban developments tend to surround the nation’s largest and mid- sized cities. Many of the parents here have watched their children grow up, leave for college or jobs, and then return home. In these stable communities, nearly two-thirds have lived at the same residence for more than 15 years.
With households that include both older and younger adults, Boomers and Boomerangs feature disparate leisure interests. Members have above-average interest in golfing, fishing and boating as well as motorcycling, in-line skating and water skiing. They also like to try their luck by playing the lottery and visiting casinos.
The apple doesn’t fall far, as Boomers and Boomerangs have plenty of shared interests. All love sports and attend professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey matches. Going to restaurants, rock concerts and movies are all popular as well. While their interest in travel is only average, they enjoy vacationing at beaches and lakes to take in water sports from fishing to boating. Both generations meet on weekend afternoons at tailgate parties to support their favorite sports team.
With many Boomers still connected to their youth, they shop at stores targeted to traditionally younger consumers - apparel chains like American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic and Express. They make a strong market for consumer electronics - from video cameras and DVRs to MP3 players - as well as sporting goods like camping equipment, golf clubs, baseballs and snow skis.
However, Boomers and Boomerangs tend to be price-sensitive shoppers and they typically look for value in their purchases. When it comes to cars, they prefer an entry-level CUV, economy subcompact or a lower mid-range SUV - it doesn’t matter whether it’s a domestic or imported model - but they’re more likely to buy a used vehicle than a new one. With so many adults at home, more than three-quarters of all households own three or more cars.
Boomers and Boomerangs are voracious media consumers. They like to read newspapers, especially poring over the sports and entertainment sections. They like to listen to the radio during their daily commutes; their favorite stations offer news, sports, adult contemporary music and classic rock. They’re also big TV fans, watching primetime dramas, sitcoms, game shows and reality programs; they subscribe to every premium channel. Increasingly, the older folks in this segment are following their children’s preoccupation with the Internet. Households here spend more time online at home than most.
Boomers and Boomerangs tend to be traditional in their values. They describe their political outlook as right-of-center, and Republicans outnumber Democrats by a ratio of 4 to 3. They’re less likely than average Americans to worry about protecting the environment, registering little concern about air pollution or the need for recycling.
With kids returning to the nest, finances remain an issue, so Boomers and Boomerangs tend to be price-sensitive shoppers. They discount the importance of brand and aesthetics and express little interest in designer fashion or stylish home decorating. They prefer not to pay extra for quality goods and concede that they rarely indulge their children with “little extras”. This is no place for consumers who appreciate the gratification that comes with purchasing new and novel products and food. They admit to preferring the convenience of taking the family to TGI Friday’s or the local pizza parlor over home cooking.
Yet, these Americans recognize the primacy of the family. When asked whether they’d be willing to give up family time to advance their careers, they were much less likely than the general population to say yes. While they support women in the workplace, they also think it's important to eat dinner as a family every night - even if it is fast food or restaurants for the budget- conscious.
Boomers and Boomerangs may have six-figure incomes derived from salaries and income- producing assets, but many of the older adults probably had not counted on needing to cover the expenses of their returning children at this stage in their life. The older adults in this segment have already amassed significant balances in their 401(k) plans, but they continue to accumulate a wide range of financial products, including stocks, mutual funds, savings bonds and short-term CDs. Given the two different age groups in this segment, there is use of both debit cards and credit cards when making purchases, typically at department stores, gasoline stations and specialty retailers. A high percentage carries a monthly balance on those credit cards.
Still, there are solid credit ratings among Boomers and Boomerangs, making them eligible for car, home equity and education loans. They’re receptive to a wide variety of insurance products - from life and health to annuities and auto coverage. With some of the young adults just entering the workforce, this is a strong market for group life insurance; meanwhile, their parents tend to own moderate amounts of term and whole-life insurance.
The wide age gap among Boomers and Boomerangs translates into divergent Internet activities. The households go online for banking, retrieving financial information and travel planning as well as to search for jobs, for instant messaging and for gaming. The popular Websites for this segment include an astonishing variety: CNN, ESPN, Facebook, WebMD and Craigslist. Both age groups appreciate the convenience of shopping online.
This is a strong market for computer software and peripherals used to support telecommuting and networking. With their varied backgrounds, members of this segment access the Internet at home, school and work through wireless and mobile devices as well as high-speed modems. Still, there are some age-specific activities evident in Boomers and Boomerangs: while the parents still are shy about surfing the Internet through their cell phones, there’s no such reticence among the young people. They even favor Voice over IP service for phoning their friends.