March 21, 2023
Baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — remain a formidable force in the American economy. That’s especially true when it comes to pools and spas, which in many ways hit the sweet spot of lifestyle and family this group craves.
“They seem to be a chunk of the population that has disposable income available for products like ours that could be considered luxuries,” said Dave Thompson, CEO of Swimming Pool Services Inc. “For them, we’re building what I consider to be grandchildren magnets.”
Just how much of a force are boomers?
Baby boomers hold 70% of the disposable income in the U.S. and spend over $548 billion a year, more than any other generation.
Baby boomers have the highest purchasing power of any generation, which makes them a key target market for businesses and marketers.
The typical baby boomer has a median net worth of $206,700. This statistic matters because it gives us an indication of the financial health of Baby Boomers.
Baby boomers now own 27% of all U.S. wealth, up from 20% three decades ago, and their wealth is 157% of the U.S. GDP.
So, how can pool and spa professionals best market to this group? Here are five tips that answer that question — and help ensure you’re hitting this important demographic.
1. Teach them well. About a third of baby boomers hold college degrees — especially those with more disposable income. As such, boomers often respond to education that helps them make more informed decisions, said Jason Davies, owner and manager of Pool Envy LLC.
“So, we say, ‘Let’s put you through a CPO course,” he said. “You may never use it but it’s good information to have.’ People will say, ‘I learned a lot from that course, can you help me do better?’ And then we take care of it.”
Davies said he takes that same education technique into all of his sales approaches. “When you bring the information forward to them, it’s like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.”
2. Think family time. More than 40% of boomers have retired, making room for their grown children and grandchildren in their lives. Pools and spas are integral part of drawing them back into their lives, Thompson said. He estimates that 25% of the projects his company does are “grandchildren magnets.”
“A lot of these people aren’t buying the pool for them to swim in, they’re looking for things that are going to bring the family back,” he said. “It certainly has become a bigger part of our business.”
Creating backyards that accomplish this goal means thinking beyond just the pool and spa and more in terms of a backyard entertainment center. Thompson said basketball hoops, water features, water slides and hot tubs are popular backyard additions of this group.
“They’re looking for things that are going to make it fun for the kids to visit,” he said.
3. Appeal to safety. Once grandparents have their kids and grandkids over, they want to make sure they’re safe from drowning, of course, but also from other water dangers, Davies said. Those dangers include waterborne diseases, but also other poolside hazards typical customers may not be aware of.
For example, Davies said he’s made a brisk business of installing GFCI breakers, stair repair and handrail installation.
Of course, products that add layers of safety, such as pool alarms, automatic pool covers, and SVRS devices are also appealing to this group.
“They want to have the grand kids over and have fun,” he said. “What we don’t want is for that to turn into tragedy.”
4. Make it easy. Along with being retired, boomers are looking to simplify their lives. So, anything pool and spa pros can offer that helps them do that is often an easy sell, Thompson said.
“The last thing they want to do is add more work to their lives,” he said. “It’s about educating them and asking them, ‘What was it about the last pool you liked and didn’t like?’”
Often the answer is around the maintenance of the pool and spa. Products that automate that maintenance and even provide mobile control are a great way to renovate boomers’ backyards. “Anything you can do with the functionality of the pool to make it easier to maintain, they’re going to respond well to that,” Thompson said.
5. Go where they are. One easy and old-school way to market to boomers is to simply make sure they see your message at events and locations they already go to. These include country clubs, churches, gyms, parks and veteran groups.
“Just put your message out anywhere that caters to retired people,” Thompson said.
Davies added that it’s also important to add one more location—Facebook.
In fact, 78% of baby boomers are Facebook users, according to a recent report. Davies said that shows whenever he does targeted Facebook ads to this group. “We definitely notice they visit Facebook a lot,” he said. “And frequently, safety is the biggest thing that keeps them coming back.”