Years ago, I used to laugh at my father-in-law, who could tell you on any given day exactly how much gas cost and where you could buy it the cheapest. He'd drive 10 miles out of his way to save two cents a gallon. At the time, gas was well below $2 and I didn't see why someone who was rather well-to-do would bother to be inconvenienced to save less than $1.50. Now I get it.
Even though he retired very comfortably, he had grown up poor and never forgot his roots. Just because he had money that day didn't mean he'd always have it.
Today, I find myself following his lead, only - thanks to the Internet - I don't have to drive around looking for cheaper gas. I can go to www.gasbuddy.com or www.gaspricewatch.com. Better still, I can find out right on my cell phone where to find the cheapest gas. Just go to www.getmobio.com/learn/cheapgas and, like magic, a satellite picks up where you are and can tell you what stations are near you offering what prices. Now, it has become a point of pride to find a way to keep an extra five to eight bucks a month from greedy oil and gas providers. It's no longer about affordability for me. It's more about taking control.
My husband recently told me that when he was in middle and high school, his brother, who is almost 12 years older, lived several states away. On Sunday, after church, Ralph and his parents would drive to Ralph SR's office to make the weekly call to his brother. Ralph was a high level executive and free long distance personal calls were an executive perk. It was a big deal because phone calls were far more expensive than gas. It was cheaper to drive 10 miles to the office to make a call than to make the call from home. Who'd have guessed then that the exact opposite would be true today? Gas is expensive and phone calls are cheap.
Today, the Ralph JRs of the world - we Boomers - have to make decisions everyday that are increasingly impacting the economy. According to a recent study by AARP, more than a quarter of Boomers are having trouble paying their mortgages and a third have stopped contributing to their retirement plans. Another 27 percent plan to postpone retirement.
If the economy continues its downward spiral, you'll see Boomers postpone major purchases and cut back on travel. So it is no longer a given that marketers can count on Boomers to continue to indulge themselves and spend freely. Marketers will have to work harder to get our attention and loyalty. But if you do, you're golden, because we'll tell everyone we know... and we know a lot of people!