Like millions of other Americans, I spent part of the Thanksgiving weekend shopping for bargains. There were plenty to be had, for sure. It occurred to me by the end of the day that anyone who's shopping for Boomers is in luck. All you have to do is look for cool new offerings that help us look and feel better. Interestingly, none of the best items I saw are actually targeted to Boomers and that's part of the secret of their success. We just want what other generations want: cool, helpful gifts that make us better in some way. Here are some items I found particularly intriguing:
> Can't hear well or have family member who could use a boost? Then try the world's first disposable hearing aid, called the Songbird flexfit. For those with mild to moderate hearing loss (that would be millions of Boomers), it's the first time a high-quality digital hearing aid has been made available for gift-giving. At only $79 for an aid that lasts 400 hours, or about 3-4 months, it's a bargain. (Full disclosure here - Songbird is an Edelman client, but even if they weren't I have to say, as a person who wears aids, this product rocks!)
> Want to keep your mind sharp? Everywhere I turned, I saw displays for BrainAge and other electronic-based products targeted at those who want to "train your brain" through a series of fun games that test your math skills, memory skills, or even music ability. These games were getting front and center attention in many of the stores I was in, often touting how "fun" it is to play games on the same kind of devices as your grandchildren. I was thinking more about challenging peers.
> What Boomer isn't thinking about getting in better shape in 2009? Apparently, the way to do it is with the Nintendo Wii Fit system. I like to fantasize that I'll get so fit using this fun gaming system, the Wii people would be after me like Subway chased Jared. So far, it's working. I've gotten quite a workout just looking for one in stock for less than $100 (just for the Wii Fit, btw. The console is another $300+).
> All this running around made me a prime target for the new Dr. Scholl's Footmapping kiosk. I was skeptical when I first heard about this system (despite the fact Dr. Scholl's is an Edelman client) that measures your feet and identifies where you put the most pressure on them, then recommends a specific orthotic for your shoes. But after trying Dr. Scholl's, I was amazed and pleased that these orthotics were as good or better than the $600+ ones I purchased through my orthopedic doctor. I got the lower back pain relief I was seeking.
> Like many Boomers, I found myself standing outside a place in the mall that offered to whiten my teeth and "take years off" in less than 30 minutes for only $99. It seemed too good to be true, so I decided to wait and research it. I'm glad I did. Turns out it's probably not such a good idea after all. I'll stick with the Crest Whitestrips, which my dentist has never taken issue with.
> As a longtime victim of insomnia, the NightWave Sleep Assistant caught my eye this year. It claims to be "like your own personal sleep coach" by getting your breathing to synchronize with the little blue wave. As the wave movement becomes slower, supposedly so does your breathing until you easily fall to sleep. I love the idea of this, especially the whole concept of having a personal sleep coach. Is there anything you can't get a coach for now?
One hot item this year that I did buy is a turntable with a USB port that lets you convert old albums into digital files on your computer hard drive. It doesn't do a thing for my looks, but it's a great way to feel better. There's nothing like dusting off Beatles, Eagles, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart LPs and rocking out to them on the iPod!
You know what I really appreciate this time of year? The Internet. Like many Boomers, I like to check out items in the store, but actually comparison shop and buy online, which is what I've been doing most of the evening now. It's great. I'm saving money and time and I feel good about that. BTW, if you want to do this too, try www.pricegrabber.com, www.dealio.com, and www.froogle.com.
How about you? What are your favorite Boomer gifts this year?