Upper-middle-class baby boomer-age couples living comfortable lifestyles settled in town and exurban homes
The three segments in Thriving Boomers feature empty-nesting couples in their 50s and 60s who long ago fled the cities for quiet towns and upper middle-class resort communities. Most of the households contain childless couples who’ve lived at the same address for over a decade and are now beginning to contemplate their retirement. Others are more recent arrivals who’ve left large homes in bedroom suburbs to downsize to more manageable houses and condos. While some of their peers have migrated to active retirement communities, these folks are content to live in their mixed-age neighborhoods, not to mention their mixed-aged households: one-quarter has an aged parent or young adult living at home.
Thriving Boomers are concentrated in small cities and towns, including popular vacation destinations like Santa Fe, N.M., Berkeley, Calif., Vail, Colo., and Nantucket, Mass. Their housing stock varies from older ranches to mountainside bungalows and beachfront condos. Although they’re nearly twice as likely as average Americans to live on large properties of up to four acres, they also enjoy a change in scenery from time to time, as seen in the many who own vacation homes.
An educated group, a majority of households has at least one member with a college degree; these couples typically have white-collar jobs in public administration, law, education and sales. Their mid-level positions provide above-average incomes, though nearly a quarter of adults are retired. With their strong earnings over the course of many years, they’ve managed to build diversified 401(k)s and IRAs to ensure a comfortable retirement. These fiscal conservatives also like to buy long-terms CDs and invest in money markets to protect their portfolios from the vagaries of the stock market.
Half of Thriving Boomers may be grandparents, but they’ve hardly retired to a rocking chair. Many are much different than preceding generations at the same point in life. They exercise regularly, enjoying biking, hiking, hunting, snorkeling and golf. These educated Americans frequent the theater, museums and classical music concerts, and many like nightlife activities like going to bars, nightclubs and comedy clubs. They dine out often at steakhouses and chains and have a soft spot for restaurants like Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel that offer home-style fare. They travel often, visiting Caribbean beaches, taking Mediterranean cruises and driving RVs to parks and tourist sites across America. To relax at home, they like to garden, read books, cook and do woodworking.
As consumers, Thriving Boomers tend to be practical shoppers who like functional clothes at good prices. They rarely buy products to make a statement, and they patronize a wide variety of retailers - from discounters like Dress Barn and Sam’s Club to retail chains such as Chico’s and Coldwater Creek. They’re late adopters when it comes to technology, with below-average rates for owning smartphones and MP3 players, but they’re willing to splurge on a flat-screen TV. Though few have flashy cars, many own late-model trucks made in Detroit. American-made products, they declare, set the standard.
Thriving Boomers are selective media consumers, though they embrace both traditional and new media. They’re among the top readers of newspapers, especially the travel, science, movie and editorial sections. These outdoorsy folks like to read fishing and hunting magazines along with newsweeklies and automotive publications. They listen to the radio fairly often, tuning in to golden oldies, classic rock, adult contemporary and news talk stations. They’re especially fond of TV news, documentaries, history programs, dramas and how-to programs aired on cable channels like History, HGTV, TCM, the Travel Channel and Fox News. They’re no fans of TV commercials - or most advertising for that matter - but they respond to billboards and links on the Internet.
The Americans who launched the counterculture revolution continue to be activists. Many are rooted in their communities and they often belong to veterans’ clubs, arts groups and unions. Politically, they’re ideologically split, with about equal numbers belonging to the Democratic and Republican parties. However, they tend to be more liberal on social issues and advocate corporate ethics. On issues they feel strongly about, they’re willing to join a protest march.
Thriving Boomers are active users of the Internet, comfortable going online to shop, telecommute and bid on auctions. They access the Internet for a variety of activities: booking flights, trading stocks, following political events and looking up health and medical information. They frequently surf to Websites like huffingtonpost.com, fidelity.com, craigslist.org and tripadvisor.com. They mostly go online from the comfort of their desktop or laptop computers; they’re only half as likely as the general population to access the Internet using their cell phones.