Movies and Music Learn To Profit From the Boomer Market

Boomer music fans and moviegoers are not just a fast-growing demographic; their patterns of media consumption also make them the most profitable media consumers — and deserving much more attention.

This article from Engage Boomers points out some interesting recent examples of the power and attractiveness of the boomer market in the USA. (But applicable almost anywhere).


The most successful new music release in 2009 was Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream”. This illustrates two important trends: older consumers (and older singers) can drive mass-media events, and do so more profitably than younger consumers. The Boomer women driving Boyle’s sales purchased the album almost exclusively in the CD format: only 6% purchased it via downloads (at the same time, almost half of those who bought John’s Mayer’s new release purchased a download).

In a recent survey (smart, successful women 50+), 40% said that they purchase more than six CDs each year (94% define themselves as music fans). Given that lost margins on CDs sales have driven the music industry into crisis, it should be producing more music that appeals to Boomers, and marketing the music it does produce more directly to Boomers.


60-year-old filmmaker Nancy Meyers’ release of “It’s Complicated” beat expectations by selling over $22 million in tickets on Christmas Day. Seventy-two percent of its audience was female and 75% older than 30. Given the “slow build” women often generate (via word-of-mouth) for movies they love, “It’s Complicated” should have a good run.

A New York Times article about Nancy Meyers said, “In a movie culture consumed by youth and its trappings — vampires, werewolves, stoners and superheroes — Meyers’s decision to pay attention to a part of the population that is often construed (and often construes itself) to be invisible stands out in bold relief.

Old Tech to New Tech

While media companies scramble to meet the rapidly changing consumption patterns of young consumers, they could both profit and learn from Boomers, who are sustaining the “old school” formats like CDs and cable even while they rapidly adopt newer formats like MP3 players and smartphones. A recent survey revealed that almost half listen to downloaded music and one out of four who owns a smartphone uses it to watch videos or movies.

As multi-format consumers, Boomers could hold the key to sustainability for media companies struggling with the digital age. Delivering more content that appeals to Boomer consumers would reliably increase profits (because Boomers generally rely on higher-margin formats), thereby buying time for media companies time to develop profitable business models for younger consumers — and to prepare for the Boomers to go fully digital around the time they retire.