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How Betty White is redefining Boomers

The biggest sensation in television this year is not a beautiful 20-year-old.

She is not a movie star – although she was once on the silver screen.

She is not on Facebook and until recently she didn't even know there was such a thing.

She doesn't text.

She is over 80 years old and, at that age, has more aches and pains than you could imagine. But she is still very active and dare we say it – she is sexy.

She appears regularly on talk shows, writes books, has her own TV show, appears on TV commercials and is the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live.

She is 88-year-old Betty White, born January 17, 1922. She is just one member of a vast, largely untapped market defined as 50 Plus, Boomers, Baby Boomers or Super Seniors.

They get scant attention because so many advertising agencies are filled with creative staff who are under 30 and accept as fact the many myths surrounding Boomer marketing. Small surprise since most people assume:

  • boomers don't use social media (wrong)
  • all seniors are happily married couples (wrong)
  • no seniors are gay (wrong)
  • all Boomers are rich and have huge disposable incomes (wrong)
  • you can sell a senior on absolutes – whites, fastest, youngest (wrong, wrong, wrong).

Business owners and marketers are no better for the most part. Take, for example, restaurant owners. They will tell you that they want 50 Plus customers because they "dine out more and spend more."

True. But then they offer a restaurant menu that is filled with items that are too big for seniors and/or violate diet restrictions (You can buy a children-sized menu item, why can't you buy a senior-sized menu item?).

Worse still, the restaurant seating doesn't take into account the aches and pains of a 50+ customer and hence is so uncomfortable that it makes everything else – the food, the service, the ambiance – virtually unimportant. In short, everything about the restaurant is designed to ensure a 50+ customer never comes back.

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Not sure how a Super Senior thinks?  Listen to Betty White’s wildly popular monologue on Saturday Night Live.
Not sure how a Super Senior thinks? Listen to Betty White's wildly popular monologue on Saturday Night Live.


Boomer Couple
This is the typical image associated with Boomers. These folks exist, but they are no more than a niche in a much bigger demographic known formally as Baby Boomers and defined as individuals who were born in the post-war years: 1946-1964.


Boomer Single
Let's explode another myth: all boomers are happily married couples. An increasing proportion are singles with different needs and expectations than couples.