Baby boomers – the most influential generation due to its sheer size at more than 77 million – are rethinking their values that will likely have wide-ranging impact on a number of consumer categories, according to a new study.

Findings from the Boomer Values Realignment Study show the country’s state of affairs – down economy, slipping global disposition, bleak outlook and socio-economic imbalance – is pushing baby boomers to become more introspective. Marketers, brands, healthcare givers, corporate American in general and even politic leaders could be hard pressed to re-examine their propositions to baby boomers, according to the study’s authors: Civano Living, Ypartnership and American LIVES.

The authors also suggest implications to wide-ranging industries:

Consumer Goods and Services

  • Attention shifting away from consumerism, materialism and conspicuous consumption and toward personal, more meaningful relationships
  • Values driving purchase decisions on goods and services; therefore, boomers will gravitate toward companies that align with their values
  • As boomers focus on relationship building they seek forums and platforms as catalysts for their self-directed efforts versus “how to” books and lectures

Travel, Tourism, Home, Builder and Real Estate

  • Communities that foster social engagement and environmental consciousness have more appeal to boomers’ values
  • Vacation experiences that deepen relationships with family, friends and offer cultural venues are more desirable than recreational activities
  • 80% want to feel healthier and more balanced at the end of a vacation, while the trend of Americans taken fewer vacation days and shorter trips continues

Health and Wellness

  • Interest in health and fitness programs continues to grow
  • Retirement brings a new age of personal exploration and socialization as 71 percent see retirement as a time to explore other cultures and travel
  • Boomers see a connection between individual well-being and planetary health as societal issues such as air and water quality, healthier foods, less toxic building materials, renewable energy and conservation, among others, expand beyond personal pursuits
  • 86% believe obesity as a national problem

Politics and Current Affairs

  • Pessimistic view of current state of affairs reveals 70 percent are concerned the U.S. is slipping in its global leadership position
  • Majority of boomers are not confident in America’s future with 66 percent concerned about their children’s future
  • Boomers believe it is in our self interest to be energy independent
  • A majority of working and retired boomers agree there are too many “have-nots” in our society today

“It is clear boomers have shifted from consumerism as status to meaningful relationship as a measurement of a purposeful life,” said Kevin Kelly, CEO and founder of the Civano Development LLC and former president of Canyon Ranch, a destination resort spa focusing on health, wellness and holistic and integrative care.

“This study unveiled that baby boomers feel vulnerable as significant events have emotionally affected their lives, due to aging, home equity and investments disappearing, and global competition. These values shifts have created a new consumer niche that can provide business opportunities for some.”

The Boomer Values Realignment Study was conducted in an effort to measure the long-term psychological impact the economic downturn has had on the baby boomer generation and how recent events affect their attitudes and spending habits, particularly in the resort and travel areas. Based on a random probability sampling method, with a 95 percent confidence level and plus/minus 2.8 percent margin of error, people between the ages of 45 and 65 with a household income of $75,000 had an equal chance of being selected to complete the survey.

More than 1,200 people completed the survey, averaging about 25 minutes to complete the questions that involved more than 350 items including lifestyle, attitudes and values questions, retirement, health and wellness, housing and leisure preferences, and historical choices and travel patterns. American LIVES and Ypartnership, with 40 years of combined market research experience, determined an online survey for this length of questionnaire and target audience was equal or more reliable than a random telephone interview method.