As one of my colleagues bemoaned the fact that her leading edge Boomer parents were abandoning them for the holidays to go cruising, it reminded me that the holiday table certainly is looking very different than the one that Norman Rockwell portrayed in the 1940s.
First, Boomer grandparents may likely be on that cruise or skiing in Aspen rather than serving up the turkey. Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house may find an empty house when you get there. Or, the grandparents just may gather everyone up and take the whole family on the cruise with them. Intergenerational travel is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry.
Second, with a projection of one-half of the first marriages of the baby boom generation ending in divorce, it is also a guess who will gather around the table. My trailing edge Boomer friend is celebrating Christmas morning with her two sons and her ex-husband and his new wife and his new wife’s mother. And, she is putting up a stocking and buying presents for each of them. The new wife has children of her own and grandchildren but she isn’t spending Christmas with them because they are spending it with her ex-husband. Complicated, yes, but not necessarily abnormal in the Boomer world.
Family is still very important to the Boomers…what that family holiday photo looks like just may be a little different than the past. Portraying the Norman Rockwell picture of life as the way life is or should be is an easy way to alienate this audience. And, for you retailers, just look at it this way – the Boomer holiday present list is longer than ever when you take in all of the extended family members. There is room for everyone at the new holiday table – you just need to make sure that you haven’t made anyone feel excluded. Happy Holidays to everyone!