Big-Spending Boomers Buy for Multiple Generations

August 1, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Boomers & Older | Retail & E-Commerce

Consumers in their 40s and 50s are at or near the peak of their earning potential and make the majority of household spending decisions for themselves and their older and younger dependents, according to a study by TV Land.

Findings from the survey:

  • Consumers age 40-59 (Baby Boomers) are spending more on themselves per month than Millennials and Gen-Xers; also, they are spending twice as much as their younger cohorts on others in their lives.
  • Boomers are making several multi-generational purchase decisions at once because they often have many older and younger dependents to shop for.
  • Boomers are far less brand loyal than Millennials and Gen-Xers.


  • Purchase decisions for Boomers are based on product reliability, quality and effectiveness, as well as how well products fulfill their needs and make their lives easier.


The study also identified three traits that characterize the shopping and spending patterns of Boomers, and it coined terms to describe them: “Promiscuous Purchasers,” “Free-Agent Shoppers,” and “Savvy Switchers.”

Promiscuous Purchasers: Boomers buy for themselves and for others of different generations. They spend more than three times the amount of money per month on spouses ($514) than adults under 40 ($169). They also spend nearly twice as much per month on children ($295 vs. $158) and three times as much on teens ($494 vs. $136).


Free-Agent Shoppers: Boomers are more open to new brands and less brand-loyal than people under 40. Some 26% say they are not at all brand loyal (vs. 21% of Gen-Xers and Millennials). This willingness to buy new brands carries over across most product categories, including electronics, personal care products, restaurants and automobiles.

Savvy Switchers: Boomers will not switch brands just because something is new. Some 91% of people in their 40s and 50s want a new brand to provide more value (vs. 83% of Gen-Xers and Millennials). These consumers also care about the promise of a brand over the image of a brand. They will consider new brands if they are more useful or functional or provide the most benefit/value.


“This research once again dispels myths about 40- and 50-somethings,” said Laurel Wichert, vice-president of research, TV Land. “The lack of brand loyalty coupled with their purchasing power makes the 40-59 audience an extremely desirable target that should not be overlooked.”

About the research: TV Land teamed with OTX to field the research, which was done in two phases. First, qualitative research focus groups were conducted to identify key insights and hypotheses. Second, 2,900 adults age 18-65 took an online survey about brand loyalty and decision making from January 4 to 12, 2008. From February 22 to 24, 1,000 adults age 18-65 took an online survey about brands and purchasing habits.

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