Baby Boomers are sexy!

Yes they are, certainly from a marketing perspective. Why? Because Baby Boomers collectively own close to £500bn of the UK's assets and form a significant proportion of a business's customer base, making them an important economic power. Over 50s account for 40% of consumer spending, 60% of total savings and 80% of UK wealth. 

The Baby Boom generation is rapidly aging (50% of the population will be over 50 in 2020) and as the demographics change, so will the incidence of disability. Whilst Baby Boomers won’t necessarily identify themselves as being disabled, their access needs are changing and the stats above indicate a very strong business case for meeting their changing needs.

At a conservative estimate there are around 11 million disabled people in the UK, and 1:3 of us is either disabled or has a family member or friend who is. The government puts the value of the disabled £ at an estimated £80 billion, and yet businesses have never thought as this market as ‘sexy’. So bring on the Baby Boomers I say, their changing needs are going to ‘up the game’ around providing inclusive services, products and websites.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has had a considerable affect on businesses, leading many to improve access, particularly to their built environments. (Incidentally, think of all the families with pushchairs who have benefited from the provision of ramped access!). Since 2004 the DDA (now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010) has placed responsibilities on all service providers to make their goods, services and facilities accessible. However, in my work as a disability consultant focusing on inclusive customer service, there are still some businesses that are hard to enthuse about the mutual benefits of meeting disabled people’s access requirements.

What do you think of when the word ‘disability’ is mentioned? I bet it’s a wheelchair, and yet 95% of disabled people don’t use them! Many people still associate disability with a negative image, focusing on what disabled people can’t do, day centres and incapacity benefit. This is such a false image and way far from the truth. Disabled people are captain’s of industry, scientists, Olympic sportsmen, heralded musicians, teachers, parents. For the majority of disabled people, remove the barriers they face in a mainstream world and you remove the disability. The barriers are often societal and environmental and these can be removed.

So that’s why I say bring on the Baby Boomers. If businesses want their custom, a share in their combined wealth, they are going to have to ‘get’ inclusive. I mean really ‘get it’. Understand that they have to make it easy for Baby Boomers to spend their money. They have to produce their marketing materials in a font size that Baby Boomers with changing eyesight can read, they have to design packaging that Baby Boomers can open, and products and websites that Baby Boomers can use. There is a widely held view, which I share, that whatever you do to improve access to goods, services, products, websites etc. for disabled people, improves these for all.

So what are businesses waiting for? If they want to increase their customer base, they need to take a close look at their customer journey, across all channels, and get inclusive.


© Mary-Anne Rankin