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Baby Boomers (technically, those whose age was 40-58 in 2004) make up, at almost 80 million, the largest generational demographic today. And, among Boomers, women not only outnumber men but also influence as much as 80% of household purchase decisions, from food and finance to travel and technology.

In other words, Baby Boomer women are the greatest market opportunity today. Investing in better understanding these women will undoubtedly provide companies with greater advantage in the marketplace of the future.

Many marketers have yet to grasp that the younger consumer markets (Gen X and Y) spend less than their parents and grandparents. The advertising industry has been slow to update stereotypes of aging and women.

In reality, Baby Boomer women are a savvy, complex group of consumers, leading multifaceted lives and looking for answers as they experience multiple life stage transitions. And they don't think of themselves as "older," but as young-at-heart (with a few wrinkles).

The following insights and recommendations shed light on how to better connect with her reality and harness the purchasing power of this influential segment.

50 is the new 30

Marketing to the "aging" Boomer woman is tricky, because she cringes at being viewed as "mature" or "senior." She's not going to relate to the waif Vogue model, but she also doesn't connect with the stereotypical cardigan-wearing grandma, either.

Focus your brand messaging on youthful attitudes, embracing your age, wisdom from experience, emotional relevance, vitality and inner beauty. One company taking on reinventing aging and image issues is Dove, with its Campaign for Real Beauty (campaignforrealbeauty.com).

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image of Mary Brown

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