Baby boomers have money to burn, and are destined to control at least 70% of consumer spending by 2017. So far, however, their potential has been largely untapped by marketers, who can't figure out how to sell boomers what they need.
Real estate developers, however, have focused on what boomers want -- and are reaping the rewards for that farsightedness.
The money to live their dreams
Boomers with loads of money are willing to spend it freely to attain the lifestyle they feel they have earned. Developers of condo and apartment complexes have been designing living spaces based upon specific lifestyle choices, and have met with resounding success.
On the West Coast, communities are springing up that cater to those who integrate bicycle riding into their everyday lives. These developments draw in boomers, as well as millennials, who pay about $2,500 per month for apartments that feature wider-than-normal doorways and halls that accommodate bike-toting residents.
A booming market: boomers with hobby vehicles
In Florida, retirement communities are being planned to appeal to specific segments of the over-50 crowd. One of these so-called "niche" communities markets itself to boomers who have a special affinity for vehicles, such as RVs, motorcycles, and classic cars.
Located on 400 acres in central Florida, Lake Weir Preserve is envisioned as a 500-home community that supplies something that other retirement campuses lack: storage for large, expensive, or hobby vehicles. Garages can vary in size from 900 to 4,000 square feet, and are completely customized, as are the houses. While more modest homes start at about $190,000, buyers with special designs can expect to pay up to $500,000. So far, 26 houses have been built and occupied.
With RV ownership increasing every year, the developers feel certain that Lake Weir will be a profitable enterprise for many years to come. An extra bonus is the wealth of the community's target audience -- most are cash buyers who are active in the design of their home and willing to pay extra for the amenities they desire.
Car condos for the well-wheeled
One of the most extravagant shelters for the vehicles of the most affluent boomers is the car condo offered by AutoMotorPlex. Billed as "a place built for enthusiasts by an enthusiast," the original site, situated on 40 acres outside of Minneapolis, has since grown to locations near Kansas City, Kan., and a planned complex in Naperville, Ill.
These units are a car lover's dream. A Bloomberg profile of this new trend describes one 54-year-old man's automobile cave as costing $0.6 million to purchase and personalize, melding living space with a kind of classic car showroom. Now he can relax on his sofa, sipping wine from his in-condo wine cellar, as he gazes lovingly at his Ferrari F430 parked a few feet away.
AutoMotorPlex points out the many amenities: an on-site clubhouse for schmoozing with like-minded enthusiasts, a high level of security, restaurant catering, and a "low association fee." The rising popularity of such car condos could also turn out to be a good investment for owners, who might someday sell these residences for a tidy profit.
While the rest of the advertising world flounders in its attempts to capture the lucrative baby boomer market, these developers are profiting by offering wealthy boomers something that enriches their lives -- and, importantly, something they can't find elsewhere. For savvy niche marketers, exploring the untapped dreams of the baby boomers just might unearth a goldmine.