Starving Boomer Mad Man reinvented as Boulder startup wiz

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Surprise: Boomers have the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity

A popular theory in some advertising circles is that, except for age-specific and high ticket categories, mainstream brands waste money by targeting Americans aged 50 and over.

Allegedly our adaptability shrivels after this milestone. Or millstone. Whatever.

Well, it just ain’t so – go ask The New York Times. Citing a Kauffman Foundation/Legal Zoom study, the paper reported that 35% of all new 2013 businesses were started by entrepreneurs aged 50 and over. The Times went on to state:

“… over the last decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to those in the 55-to-64 age group.” 

So how is it that Boomers became so adaptable?  Too many ways to cover here, for sure. So let’s take one example; how our price/value perceptions adjusted to huge changes in income and the cost of living over the years.

Starving Boomer Mad Man: nourished by constant dollar analysis

MastodonSince last century Madison Avenue thinking is responsible for the “unadaptable Boomers” theory, it is only fair to refute it by following the career of a young Mad Man, fresh out of college in 1968.

History side-bar: for the benefit of younger readers, 1968 is not so far back in the mist of time that ice age mastodons still roamed the streets of Palo Alto.

If memory serves, that was pretty much over by the long hot summer of ’59.

Our junior ad agency executive must have been in a sad plight back in 1968: he was on a measly starting salary of $10,000.

Ten grand sure isn’t much – way below minimum wage. That starving young Mad Man must have counted his nickels and dimes in that far off pre-tofu, pre-kale era. Caring politicians would have felt his pain.

Starving MadMan

But before feeling too sorry for him maybe we should check what $10,000 in 1968 would be worth today – a constant dollar analysis.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website gives us the tools to do just that: the CPI inflation calculator.

With a couple of clicks the calculator tells us that $10,000 in 1968 equals around $68,000 in 2014 constant dollars.

Wow, our young Boomer was doing fine after all. Hold the food stamps and order another Martini. With double olives; we’re celebrating constant dollar analysis.

The point is that over the decades Boomers constantly adapted to price and income changes. We still do. This juggling act is just one aspect of multi-faceted Boomer flexibility that continues today.

Boomer adaptability: alive and well in America’s start-up capital

In 2014 our Mad Man is recently retired but far from idle. Like many other Boomers described in the New York Times piece, he started a new business.

Karma police V2Ironically, although now more flexible and adaptable than ever before, he is dissed by his ad agency successors – the ones he personally trained in last century advertising lore.

You see, in his long career he fostered the old notion that mainstream brand ads shouldn’t feature consumers over 50. Now he too is invisible – off the radar.

What goes around comes around. Dude, it’s karma.

Luckily, when he left his mega-media global conglomerate he relocated to Boulder, Colorado. New businesses prosper up here in an innovative world described by Inc. as America’s start-up capital.

The magazine reports the city has “six times more high-tech start-ups per capita than the nation’s average … and twice as many  per capita as runner-up San Jose-Sunnyvale in California.”

Home to a host of new tech, healthy living and marketing firms, Boulder is far enough from bi-coastal group-think that disruptive minds can flourish.

So it’s only appropriate that Boulder is also designated the official headquarters of yet another new startup: the 15th Nation™ aka the enormous Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1964.

With 89 million members, if this were a country it would be the 15th most populous on Earth. And as owners of over two-thirds of America’s private net worth, it would be the 3rd largest economy on the planet – a larger, more affluent market than Germany, France or the UK, and larger and more affluent than Canada and Australia combined.

Although most mainstream brands doggedly ignore this huge audience, some daring disruptives are beginning to dump old fogey ideas about the 50+ space. Instead, they are opting for new thinking as fresh as a breath of clean Colorado air.

We welcome them to our bright and brainy world.

CU Boulder

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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