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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

All boomers are created differently: Selling to boomer segments

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Financial marketers have realized that today’s boomer consumers are worthy of their attention, so now they are scrambling to find the best segmentation scheme. That’s because they want to determine which specific parts of the large boomer cohort are their best prospects.

The problem, of course, is that most segmentation schemes have little value to most advisors, agents or producers. They are either too general and don’t apply to a particular consumer in a particular product category or too specific and only apply to purchasers of certain products from certain companies.

“Self”-centered boomers
Recently CNBC broadcasted a Tom Brokaw documentary, “Boomer$!”, which tried to sum up the generation in two hours. Needless to say, Brokaw had a few omissions, including failing to point out that a key generational trait among boomers is their desire to remain “self”-centered. Not self-absorbed but simply more interested in what happens to them than anything else.

Most boomers evaluate everything in life with, “What’s in this for me?” They apply a personal lens–not, “Is this product for someone like me” but “Is this for me, specifically?”

Along with promoting the show, posted articles about boomers, including one that shares a simple segmentation scheme for today’s boomer when it comes to financial matters. It is based on demographic (age, income, assets, debt) and attitudinal differences and groups boomers into four segments:

  1. Financial Positives (29% of all boomers)
  2. Upbeat Enjoyers (34%)
  3. Threatened Actives (23%)
  4. Insecure (14%)

Financial professionals would most likely be interested in the first two groups, based on following the money. (Side note: The clever names actually describe how most boomers have felt about their money over the last 18 months, wouldn’t you agree?)

But be careful. Do not assume you can treat all of your boomer clients as either “Financial Positives” or “Upbeat Enjoyers” or any simple segment definition. They want you to treat them as if they are unique individuals with specific wants and needs.

When it comes to their money, the only constant we see in boomer behavior is their desire to maintain “control” over their financial future. Financial advisors, planners and agents who can help them gain some sense of control over their money will be successful. They will be the ones that build trust.


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