Nielsen compares Boomers and Millenials – report

In the U.S., Millennials and Boomers represent roughly the same number of consumers—but that might be where the similarities end according to this study from Nielsen.

Baby Boomers:

  • Born between 1946 and 1964
  • The wealthiest generation, controlling 70 percent of disposable income in the U.S.
  • Account for nearly 50 percent of all consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales, 77 percent of prescription drug sales, 80 percent of leisure travel spending and 41 percent of all new car purchases.
  • More likely to use a desktop computer, have a landline and watch traditional TV. They spend 174 hours per month watching TV (significantly more than Millennials’ 107 hours per month) and are the dominant audience in 16 of the top 25 shows.
  • Adoption of tablets doubled between 2011 and 2012.
  • Prefer clever, light-hearted humour (rather than mean-spirited) and relatable characters who are Boomers themselves or not much younger.

As covered in our book ‘Marketing to the ageing consumer’ real changes to the brain begin in the mid-50s when distraction suppression mechanisms are weakened. Nielsen reports that as early as the mid-40s there are severe and dramatic drops in neurotransmitter levels—dopamine and serotonin in particular. Dopamine drops lead to thrill-seeking behaviours to compensate. Serotonin drops lead to the feeling that something is missing—typical for midlife crises of career and relationship.

The ageing brain likes repetitions—and will believe information that is familiar to be true.Younger brains are most stimulated (better attention capture, engagement, and memorability) with elements of dynamism such as rich media, lighting or rotations, to cut through their perception threshold.
The ageing brain is more easily distracted—as the brain ages it slowly loses the ability to suppress distraction.Millennials can equally deal with the bleeding-over communication we see in most dynamic banner ads on Web portals, while older generations need a clear-framed separated communication to be able to engage.
However, the ageing brain has a broader attention span and is open to more information.Younger brains have high multi-sensory processing capacity—which makes them very amenable to (and almost seek) multi-sensory communications, especially with interaction—such as search tasks, interactive sites.
Contrast is the preference vs. colour for online ads.

By comparison, here’s what the reports says about Millennials.Boomers


  • Now aged 19-36.
  • Spend 82 percent of their income and are facing hefty student loans.The average student loan for the graduating class of 2011 was $26,600.
  • In many developing economies, Millennials dominate. In India, Millennials comprise almost 30 percent of the population, while Boomers comprise 14 percent.
  • 76% own a smartphone, 73 percent own a laptop and 68 percent own a game console.
  • Less likely to have ever had a land line, are more likely to have a laptop and they watch all types of content on their phones, laptops and tablets.
  • The No. 1 TV show for Boomers isn’t even in the top 30 for Millennials.
  • Prefer off-beat, sarcastic and slapstick humor.