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Never before in history has such a large demographic group as the Baby Boom generation experienced major life-stage transitions en masse. Now in their 40s and 50s, Boomer women are grappling with one of the most challenging stages they have faced to date: the empty nest.

This vulnerable phase is signaled by the exodus of sons and daughters from home as they transition to adulthood and assume increased independence. A critical juncture in a mother's lifecycle, the empty-nest phenomenon represents an opportunity for marketers sensitive to the evolving needs, challenges and aspirations of this demographic.

Not just a one-time marketing opportunity, the emptying of the family's nest is often a layered experience across the coming of age of several children, and their progressive separation from college to graduation and beyond.

As a generation, Boomers have embraced a more engaged approach to parenting than was the norm for their parents. Boomer moms, who have spent the past two decades involved in the predominant nurturing role of raising kids, are strongly affected when the responsibilities of that role shift. As revealed in our recent Empty Nest survey of more than 230 pre- and current-empty nester women, the act of a child leaving home can create a profound sense of loss, self-examination, freedom and change for Boomer moms.

Why should your company care? By deeply understanding the issues the Boomer mom faces, marketers can align their brand to provide her answers at a time of need. There is nothing more powerful and loyal than a grateful woman. And considering the size and spending clout of the Boomer woman demographic, your company will stand to benefit from her gratitude.

We've translated key insights from our Empty Nest survey into marketing opportunities targeted to helping her through the transition.

Newfound Freedom

When asked which were the most significant changes anticipated or experienced once their nest emptied, the overwhelming response (out of 12 possibilities) was "more free time," followed by "loneliness/depression," "more time with significant other" and "focus on self."

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image of Mary Brown

Mary Brown is president of Imago Creative. For more information, visit www.imagocreative.com.