Baby boomer 'uniqueness' vexes ad men

  • Follow Bill Kirby

The No. 1 rule is that you never call an older buyer old.

Video: Kirby's Augusta
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-- Joseph Coughlin

Did you know there are four types of retirees?

I didn't, either, until I came across a business story in The New York Times that dealt with the difficulties of advertising to today's seniors.

It is hard, researchers say, because baby boomers see themselves as unique individuals and don't think they can be lumped into a group.

Regardless, one consulting group determined that the characteristics of the boomsters, (or, if you insist, "post-retirement consumers") come down to these four:

- Ageless Explorers -- These are the rare but rich retirees who like to "reinvent" themselves as silver-haired surfers or traveling archaeologists. They learn a different language or how to play a musical instrument.

- Comfortably Contents -- They've got money, too, but they don't particularly care to spend it. They respond well to advertisements that feature rocking chairs and frisky dogs.

They don't want to complicate their final years diving off jungle waterfalls. They don't want to volunteer. In fact, they don't really want to do anything but pet their pups and enjoy the porch.

- Live For Todays -- These are the retirees who wished they could be comfortably content, but they never really got around to planning for retirement, so now they're scrambling and still trying to work and checking out any and all money-making proposals, hoping to make up for a lack of cents.

They tend to fall for a lot of bad investment schemes.

Which brings us to the last group -- the Sick and Tireds.

- The S&Ts are ready to move on to that big Retirement Home in the Sky. While they're waiting, they will usually respond to any marketing campaign that appears to make that wait a bit more comfortable.

It's a comfort to think that we're all unique in this together.

TODAY'S JOKE: A state trooper on the lookout for speeders is suddenly aware that the biggest traffic hazard on the road before him appears to be a car driving barely 20 mph. Because it seems to be frustrating many motorists attempting to get around it, the officer thinks he should pull it over for a look.

He does and finds it being driven by an elderly woman with four equally elderly women -- one in front and three in back, all sitting straight and quiet with their eyes wide and hands clinched.

"I don't understand," the driver told the trooper. "I was doing exactly the speed limit!"

"Ma'am," the officer replied, "You weren't speeding, you were driving too slow and creating a danger to others."

"No sir," the old woman replied, "I was doing the speed limit exactly ... 22 mph!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the trooper said, "but 22 is the route number, not the speed limit."

The woman quickly apologized and thanked the trooper for pointing out her mistake. But before she drove off, he asked about the odd look of her passengers.

"Is everyone in this car OK?" he asked. "These women seem awfully shaken, and they haven't muttered a single peep this whole time."

"Oh, they'll be all right in a minute," the driver said sheepishly. "We just got off Route 119."

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