Sunday, October 01, 2000
What will boomers buy next?
You can't find a Chrysler PT Cruiser anywhere. And if you can, the price is several thousand dollars over sticker. Hey, we baby boomers will pay it. Because these sedans look like Dad's car. And we want one.
We're the most spoiled consumers on earth. I just wish I could get a piece of the action.
About 78 million of us were born between 1946 and 1964, and 7,745 will turn 50 every day for the next 10 years. We are old enough to be wistful about the past and flush enough to try to buy it back.
Why can't I figure out a way to capitalize on our newfound geezerhood? All I have to do is think of something we used to love, then make it the way we remember it. Which is considerably better than it actually was.
Piano teacher erotica
Take the VW Beetles. The old Bugs were clumsy to drive and uncomfortable hot in the summer, cold in the winter. The new ones come with a heater that works, leather seats and a price tag about 2,000 percent more than the 1949 model.
Not only are we in love with our past, but we can put our money where our nostalgia is. We are richer than our parents. The median family income for a household headed by someone between 45 and 54, according to the Census Bureau, has risen from $3,440 in 1947 to $61,833 in 1998. Even allowing for inflation, the 1947 figure still is less than half today's income.
We are spenders. Plus we like our creature comforts. We might reflect warmly on the past, but we do not long to hang freshly laundered clothes on the line or surrender our microwaves. Most of us don't can our own pickles. Or sew our own clothes.
Now, if I could just figure out a way to use this information to finance my berth at a classy retirement home.
Maybe a new fragrance: Eau d'Piano Teacher. This would be a pungent combination of cooked cabbage with a hint of Lilies of the Valley.
My generation's drugs of choice are no longer Ripple wine, LSD and pot but estrogen, Viagra and single-malt scotch. I'm thinking maybe I could devise a boomer drink. Prune juice and vodka? A Metamucil Sunrise? It would be served in a bar called the Mickey Mouse Club. The TV above the bar would screen old Spin and Marty episodes, and Annette would blossom before our eyes.
Perhaps it is as simple as a new/old name for a current products. Instead of hair gel for men, it could be called Butch Wax. Women could mousse up with Dippity Doo.
We remember a safer time when zero tolerance meant no gum allowed in Mrs. Guyton's class. We long for the days when sexually transmitted diseases were a boy kissing you on the playground. And you got cooties. Innocence. Betsy Wetsy seemed a little naughty. Now there are dolls that go through puberty right before your very eyes.
What if I could get on eBay with an update for products we remember fondly? Say, a Slinky with a microchip that will tell you where you left your glasses. Or Mr. Virtual Potato Head with various noses and eyes allowing us to see how we'll look after cosmetic surgery.
How about wrinkle cream in a Clearasil tube?
Wait. I think I have it, my ticket to five-star extended care the perfect boomer alarm clock. Every morning, instead of a buzz, we'd start our day with Buffalo Bob's voice and a hearty reminder:
Say, kids, what time is it?
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