While the economic downturn of the past three years is not the first recession that most Boomers have experienced, it’s the first one that threatens to directly impact how we envision our future. We’re living longer, and that’s good news! But for many Boomers, it means that to maintain a reasonable standard of living, they have to either earn a paycheck longer or save more — a lot more.
Part of the challenge is that Boomers have re-defined what constitutes a “reasonable” standard of living. According to MainStay Investments’ recent Boomers Retirement Lifestyle Study, the needs-based triad of food, shelter, and clothing is no longer enough. We need to add access to affordable healthcare, Internet services, and funds to help finance a grandchild’s education. It doesn’t stop here. The majority also require professional hair care services, some kind of vacation, and money to celebrate special occasions and keep their pets happy and healthy. In other words, Boomers have managed to both redefine and individualize the “basic.”
Regardless of what comprises an individual’s future expectations, what’s clear is that the recession hasn’t radically changed those expectations, only how we’re going to get there. Never the most frugal generation, Boomers still haven’t lost their can-do attitude amid the financial chaos. So they’ll work longer and save more now. As the MainStay study notes, this is a sacrifice they’ll willingly make to ensure that the basic standard of living in the future is their standard.
As marketers, it’s critical for us to recognize that the recession’s impact may have changed current Boomer behaviors, but it hasn’t altered their individual retirement visions.