For the nearly 80 million American baby boomers, the choices and brand preferences of the generation has, and continues to have a major economic impact. Their estimated $3 trillion in spending power has the ability to generate big revenues for the companies who own the boomer's favorite brands.
Judann Pollack, Managing Editor of Advertising Age, brand expert and member of the Boomer generation, put together her top picks for the most significant brands and products that have defined the buying habits of a generation.
So, what are the favorite brands of the boomer generation? Click ahead to find out!
Produced byPaul Toscano
Posted 1 March 2010
Parent Company: Levi Strauss (Private)
"Though Levi’s has been around since the 1850’s, the brand became the symbol of James Dean-inspired rebellion a century later. Still, it’s boomer appeal didn’t end in the 1950’s; the brand was marketed with music from Jefferson Airplane during the swinging ‘60s and decades later Levi’s Dockers accompanied desk-bound boomers into the office on casual Friday."
Parent Company: Harley Davidson (HOG)
"Bar none, Harley is the motorcycle brand for boomers from “Easy Rider” on down. The brand is more than 100 years old and today Harley Owners Group has 650,000 members – many of them in the demographic – who are drawn to the brand experience created by rallies, events, races, clothing and accessories."
Parent Company: Volkswagen AG (VOW)
"The beloved Beetle was the first car of many boomers – it was inexpensive and great on gas. (Not to mention VW’s microbus was featured in Arlo Guthrie’s "Alice’s Restaurant.”) The Bug’s iconic marketing was part of advertising’s Golden Age in the ‘60s including the ads Snowplow, Funeral and “Lemon.” It was also immortalized in 1968’s The Love Bug."
Parent Company: Club Méditerranée (Euronext: CU)
"The antidote to civilization reinvented travel beginning in 1950 when boomers were coming of age, with all-inclusive group resorts. Then in 1967, later, it opened up to kids, making it a more family destination. Today, there’s a teenagers club and five different kinds of holiday vacations."
Parent Company: Alberto-Culver (ACV), who purchased the brand from Procter & Gamble (PG) in 2008.
"What boomer didn’t use Noxzema for skin cleansing or zit prevention? The cream in the cobalt blue jar was introduced in 1911 as a sunburn remedy but really came of age in the 1950s when it diversified into products like shaving cream (Remember former Miss Sweden Gunilla Hudson urging a hunk to “Take it off. Take it all off?”) It was also pitched in ads by Cybill Shepherd, Mariel Hemingway, Farrah Fawcett and Joe Namath. Now owned by Alberto-Culver, Noxzema is aiming for a resurgence."
Associated Companies: EMI Records, Capitol Records, Electronic Arts
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, this band belongs to everyone, but it started with boomers. According to a Pew Research Center summer 2009 survey, the Beatles were No. 1 among all age groups as the most-liked band or musical group and were the first choice among 50- to 64-year-olds at 65%. But they also ranked third among people old enough to be boomer’s kids (age 30-to-49) and second among those old enough to be their grandkids (16- to 29-year-olds)." For more on the brand of the Beatles, check out this story.
Parent Company: Hanesbrands (HBI)
"Nothing beats a great pair of L'eggs. That distinctive egg packaging and the ZZ Top soundtrack made it a boomer favorite since its introduction in 1969. The Hanes pantyhose was cheap, comfy and – surprise— sold in supermarkets and drugstores! It’s still a leading brand, though, sadly, the egg has been retired, replaced by cardboard."
Parent Company: PepsiCo (PEP)
"The choice of a new generation. Though it’s been around since the 1800s, Pepsi established itself in the ‘60s as the hip anti-Coke with famed advertising themed “you’ve got a lot to live and Pepsi’s got a lot to give.” Boomer icons appearing on behalf of the soft-drink include Michael Jackson, Madonna, Michael J. Fox, Cindy Crawford, Ray Charles and Tina Turner."
Parent Company: Pernod Ricard (Euronext: RI)
"Until 1979, few people asked for vodka by name in a bar. That is, until Absolut’s owner Carillon Importers changed all that with cool bottle-shaped ads done by TBWA. It was groundbreaking stuff that made Absolut the go-to boomer brand. It was sold to Pernod Richard in 2008 for almost $9 billion – an Absolut feat"
Associated Companies: General Electric, NBC Universal
"From 1975 on, few people old enough to stay up past 11:30 missed “SNL.” Not only did Loren Michael’s showcase introduce amazing talent like Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and more, it featured cutting-edge musical artists that made it a cultural touchstone for the ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond (we’re still tuning in to watch Sarah Palin). What boomer can’t quote back “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger” or sing the lead-in to "Toonces the Driving Cat?"
Parent Company: Facebook, Inc. (Private)
"Yes, friend, Facebook. If you think this social-media phenomenon is for teens only, think again. According to the New York Times, its fastest-growing user group is women 55 and over, up more than 175% and its usage among men age 55 and over grew 138%."
Parent Company: Jimlar Corporation (Private)
"No boomer worth his or her 8-track in the ‘70s would pair their bellbottoms with anything but Frye boots. This signature shoe of the generation is still around though its original cowboy incarnation has been updated with other styles – today Zappos offers 335 varieties of Frye boots for sale."
Parent Company: Coach (COH)
"Coach was the must-have handbag and badge of yuppiedom in the Gordon Gekko ‘80s. That supple leather, original square shape bag with the signature hangtag marked the owner as a boomer on the rise. Today, handbags are still 62% of its business, according to the company, which also sells footwear, watches, jewelry, fragrance and pet accessories."
Parent Company: Procter & Gamble (PG)
"The older boomers warmly remember Clairol for allowing them the pretense of being a blonde with the “Does she or doesn’t she?” advertising in the 1950s. But boomers in the middle of the spectrum are more drawn to the brand, today owned by Procter & Gamble, for its Herbal Essence line of shampoos, pitched as “totally organic” with a racy TV commercial featuring a hair-raising orgasmic experience."