AARP touts older consumers

April 03, 1996|By Jill Jorden Spitz | Jill Jorden Spitz,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Not that long ago it was considered the norm: Get married at age 20, have children at 25, convert the kids' room to a den at 50 and retire on a fixed income by 65.

But today, people in their 50s can be part of a first marriage, a second marriage or living alone. They can have adult children, stepchildren or young children. They can be retired, starting a second career or planning to work until they die. They can be on a fixed income or enjoying the biggest paychecks of their lives.

And it's about time the business community realized the disparity of that group, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.

Though many advertisers focus on people between the ages of 18 and 49 -- the ones buying diapers and tricycles and houses, it's widely believed -- they should realize many older people are in that category too, AARP officials say.

Those in their 50s include

* Continuing Caregivers, who are responsible for adult children and aging parents. They often are pulled in different directions and don't mind paying for good service.

* Second Chancers, who are divorced and remarried. Because they're supporting two families, they seek good values.

* New Me-ers, who have come through major life changes such as divorce or illness. They usually aren't afraid of new things and aren't particularly brand loyal.

* Free Birds, whose kids have moved out. Some have money to spend on travel, some are on fixed incomes.

* First Families, the traditional, nuclear unit. They tend to choose trips their kids will enjoy.

In the next 25 years, 115 million Americans will be older than 50.

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