72 million Americans are between the ages of 50 and 68 years old who are approaching or have reached the age of retirement. Some will have an easy and prosperous retirement, while others will be working a long, long time.
I’m not sure where I will fall in this spectrum based upon new health care laws, tax laws and the fact that I still like what I do. I never ever thought I had a job, but rather that I had work to do. It was my career and my career (and work) contributed to who I was a man, a husband and father.
N o doubt there are lots of people out there that perhaps feel the same way and as they look around at their options, they ask “What shall I do? Where am I going?
And yet we, the bowling industry have lost this fastest growing segment, actually two segments; older boomers 65+ and younger boomers 50-64.
We lost them because they moved to a more affluent suburb when they were younger and bowling was not “de rigueur.” None of their friends bowled.
We lost them because they too viewed their work as a career and not a job and made sacrifices like traveling two or three or even five days a week to gain advancement. No time for bowling.
We lost them because things got expensive and their wives worked not only for the money, but for fulfilling the role of the “New American Woman”. Finally women were liberated enough to feel confident enough to pursue any career they wanted.
We lost them because bowling alleys weren’t healthy. Fewer and fewer of them smoked and bowling alleys were places where people smoked and drank and maybe even cussed.
And finally we lost them because new and more inviting entertainment options became available where they didn’t have to commit to a 36 week schedule; which we refused to change…until we had to.
So here’s the question, how do you get a 55 to 64 year old to bowl?
The “old think” traditional answer is to form a 55 to 64 yr old fun league for 12 or 14 weeks. But that’s not the answer.
What you really need to do, I believe, is to view this group as a new segment that might have bowled in another lifetime, but today, well, it isn’t even on their radar.
But birthday parties and anniversaries and celebrations certainly are. When was the last time you had a marketing campaign that targeted 50, 55 60 and 65 year old birthdays.
Surely if you begin to get a few of these “millennium nostalgia parties” going and create an atmosphere with 50’s and 60’s music, they might bite. And as you get more of them, then and only then can you offer a fun nostalgia league that offers premiums like gift certificates for restaurants, vacations, gift certificates for professional pictures of them and their grand kids as well as other items you can think of.
But first start with a great party plan. Nail down everything from decorations to desserts to service levels and expectations. Then invite a few of them for a free party and take videos for them. Get testimonials. Get glowing testimonials. Send out press releases to senior centers, to the Council on Aging in your community.
Send it to www.cafemoms.com who have parents that are 55 to 65 year olds and probably help plan the parties. Send information out to party planners if you don’t have a data base of 55 to 65 yr olds, go buy one from www.InfoUSA.com and test a direct mail piece for a birthday party.
They’re out there. All 72 million of them, just waiting for you. If you want to work at it.
p.s. The Boomers also have the most discretionary income of any age group!