Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wide-Ranging Firms Focus on Attracting Cash-Rich Woopies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wide-Ranging Firms Focus on Attracting Cash-Rich Woopies

Article excerpt

By Anjetta McQueen

FORT WORTH _ Rita Wilson has always dreamed of seeing the world. Now, she does.

"I buy so many tickets," said Wilson, 49, of Fort Worth. "I've been to a bunch of places."

White water rafting in Costa Rica. Shopping in Hong Kong. Jaunts to Alaska, Europe and the Panama Canal.

Now that the kids are grown and she has retired from her job to run her own business, she has joined the ranks of the Woopies. Saddled with yet another cutesy acronym bent on cramming an entire demographic group into one package, Woopies _ or Well-Off Older People _ are being described as middle-aged baby boomers heading for the golden years.

Retirement. Pensions. Empty Nests. And time to travel, return to school, chase dreams, do whatever they want.

What they seem to do best is spend money, and marketers in fields ranging from medicine to tourism are starting to take notice.

"Each day 6,000 people in the United States turn 65," said Mildred Hogstel, professor of gerontological nursing at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "And it is that age group, 60s and 70s, that has the most money."

However, advertisers are targeting the "young old" instead, a younger group of people in their 40s and 50s who have the savings of empty nests and paid-for houses without the high cost of health problems associated with the senior years, Hogstel said.

In a way, the Woopies are caught between two more well-defined generations: born before the postwar baby boom of 1946 to 1964, but too young to qualify as elderly.

"The `new elderly' didn't live during the Depression," said William Moncrief, associate professor of marketing and department chairman at TCU.

"They invested more and are more willing to spend money."

In fact, they are using their empty nests and good health as a chance to live it up.

And plenty of industries are vying for this group _ including travel, leisure, entertainment, culture, health and investments, Moncrief said.

"In the past, this age group was virtually ignored," Moncrief said. "We didn't do a lot of targeting toward them. Now a new market is out there."

Marketing experts are going to have to segment the market, warned Bob Harootyan, director of forecasting and environmental scanning for the Washington, D. …

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