The millennial generation, known for their disruptive tendencies are transforming real estate as they have quickly become the dominant home-buying demographic. However, millennials are rivaled on this front by the other largest generational demographic in history: the baby boomers.
As boomers retire, two trends emerge...
The boomers are beginning to retire. Retirement tends to entail lifestyle and property changes; however, boomers are creating their own unique trends. One boomer trend to consider is that many of them are simply staying put. A recent article by Prashant Gopal in Bloomberg Businessweek describes how seniors are preferring to “age in place” due to material and emotional investment in their local communities, as opposed to moving into a retirement community or a smaller residence. Another article from The Atlantic emphasizes how longer lifespans mean that for boomers, retirement is not a purely leisure phase in life. It’s often characterized by having a “second, ‘encore’ career” or developing an entrepreneurial side-project. They’re more inclined to stay within reasonable proximity of towns and urban centers.
For developers and real estate agents, the boomers beginning to retire presents a unique opportunity. Right now, there’s a distinct lack of infrastructure for aging retirees whose expectations and lifestyles are markedly different from years past. One exemplary housing innovation in response to this can be found in Florida, where the Kolter Group has been building condo units that respond to the boomer trend of downsizing. Kolter built three condo developments in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and north Palm Beach that shirk traditional room delineations (living room, dining room) in favor of well-lit, high-ceilinged condos that average around 1,800 square feet. The downsized space isn’t a problem; residents prefer being by the waterfront and having great access to a downtown lifestyle.
Marketing to boomers: print is dying but…
What’s the best way to get a boomer’s attention? As boomers begin to retire, they represent a largely untapped demographic for innovation in marketing. Their desire for a retirement that looks unlike any other previous model spells opportunity for anyone bold enough to engage with these new expectations. Many marketing specialists have been doubling down on getting a piece of the millennial buyer market, but there has been a dearth of research on how to best communicate with the boomers.
It turns out, at least half of seniors get their news from print materials. According to Commission Express, there is a digital literacy gap that exists between boomers and younger generations that absolutely needs to be accounted for. Therefore, mailers and newspaper ads should be an integral part of a marketing strategy that seeks to target baby boomers.
That said, when marketing to baby boomers, digital ads should not be forgotten. While they may not be as tech-savvy as younger buyers, they are more inclined to make concrete purchases online where millennials are prone to rent.
Baby boomer retirement is putting real estate and marketing into uncharted territory. Boomers have unique expectations when it comes to retirement and the same formulaic strategy will no longer be effective. In some cases, boomer retirement is spurring authentic, genre-defining innovation. But keep in mind, when marketing to baby boomers, it may be the best strategy to return to print, a medium thought to be past its prime. Advertisements in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Bloomberg, etc., still have notable appeal for this demographic.