I find it interesting how large food manufacturers market to Baby Boomers and entice them to buy their products.
Remember when we were young and it was normal to have a piece of cake or a cookie in your lunch pail? And ol’ Dennis the Menace couldn’t resist eating the homemade apple pie his Mom left cooling on the porch. There wasn’t an obesity problem then like there is today.
The way those of us over 50 are eating has changed drastically since our childhood. Many are mindlessly chowing down junk food and wondering why they’re overweight. Others are consciously making an effort to maintain their health and stay active.
The key points food manufacturers focus on when they market to Baby Boomers
- Food manufacturers know that Baby Boomers want to reverse the aging process in any way they can. They’ve seen how their parents have aged and want to avoid medical conditions like heart disease and cancer.
- Boomers are looking for foods rich in antioxidants so they can remain young looking.
- They’re choosing meals with less fat and are avoiding fried foods.
- Even though they know they should eat smart, they don’t necessarily want to give up indulgences. A Boomer may skip dessert and then relax with a glass of wine. Even though most wine contains sugar, the promise of antioxidants makes Boomers feel less guilty because wine has health benefits.
- Boomers showed defiance to authority in the ’60s and ’70s and they’re still fiercely independent. They want to eat what they want when they want it and as much as they want. Food manufacturers and restaurants have picked up on this and now offer portion-controlled options like the Cheesecake Factory’s “SkinnyLicious Meals,” mix and match options where you can choose your own sauces or toppings or build your own salads, etc.
- The availability of meals is also a factor. Restaurants are offering all-day breakfasts, late night snacks, early bird discounts, and senior meals to entice Boomers to become customers.
- The over 50 crowd likes to make life easier on themselves. They watched their stay at home mothers slave away for hours preparing meals. Boomers who were out in the workforce never had time for that. The idea of a“Salad in a bag,” was designed as a healthier choice than iceberg lettuce and can be whipped up in a flash.
The Baby Boomer generation is 78 million strong. They’re among the best educated and most sophisticated group of consumers and control 50% of the U.S’s discretionary income.
As kids, we saw the beginning of the fast food industry with Jack in the Box and MacDonald’s. It took off and never stopped. However, those of us with more money available, now frequent mid-range to high-end restaurants looking for better and healthier meal choices.
Food manufacturers see Baby Boomers as a diverse group. Some are empty nesters, grandparents, late in life parents, retired or still heavily involved in the workforce.
Baby Boomers are fighting the aging process tooth and nail.
They are drawn to food that promises overall wellness with fiber, less fat and low cholesterol. Nestle’s Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine entree’s and sides were designed with Baby Boomers in mind.
Some companies offer products that promote health as well as indulgence. You can purchase salads, lean seafood choices, and premium chocolate desserts. In other words, have a light and healthy seafood meal and top it off with a decadent chocolate dessert.
Baby Boomers are also choosing to eat at home rather than in a restaurant but want the availability of take-out and delivery at quality restaurants. Instead of ordering pizza to go, Boomers may opt for a gourmet meal delivered to their door.
Food Business News says that even though Baby Boomers are portrayed as wanting to be healthy and in shape, food producers and restaurants should avoid this stereotype. Many Boomers are in worse shape physically than their parents were at that age. “They have higher levels of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and higher rates of disability than their parents.”
Innova Market Insights, located in Duiven, The Netherlands, has identified health issues to be considered when marketing to Baby Boomers and seniors.
Popular concerns include digestive/gut health, energy/alertness, heart health, and immune health. Even more specific are brain/cognitive health, bone health, skin health, joint health, and eye health. According to Innova, product launches addressing these health claims have doubled in the last five years. Health buzz words include Omega-3 fatty acids, CoQ10, Ginkgo Biloba, and green tea extract.
The Kelloggs corporation, best known for its sugar infused cereals, has been adding new products to appeal to Baby Boomers with names like Kashi Heart to Heart Chia, Raisin Bran Omega-3, and Special K Multigrain. Food manufacturers also realize that Boomers, whose kids have left, need to eat less and are packaging their goods in smaller packages.
Despite the move toward food products that promise to improve the health of Baby Boomers, many still contain artificial or processed ingredients, are high in calories, or are lacking in nutrition. Restaurant “lite” options are not always as “light” as they seem and are served on large plates to look like there’s less.
You still may be better off with Mom’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie.
What chain restaurants in your area or food manufacturers market to Baby Boomers and offer healthy products? Let’s give them a shout out in the comments below.