Video: Boomer sex sells

By Diana Olick D.C. Correspondent
CNBC
updated 4/18/2006 9:06:24 AM ET 2006-04-18T13:06:24

They say sex sells, but what happens when the largest group of consumers in the world is entering their senior years? Baby boomers are the richest, most active generation ever, and we're not just talking about in the boardroom. 

They fought on the front lines of the sexual revolution. Their battle cry was “free love” and their weapon of choice was the birth control pill. They took sex out of the bedroom and put it on Madison Avenue. And 40 years later, they're still at it.

“There is nothing in the world as great as finding your sexual excitement in your fifties,” said Gail Sheehy, author of Sex and the Seasoned Woman.

Hollywood gets it. And vitamin V gave it a new lift.

“Boomers are no strangers to drugs,” said Sallie Foley, author of Sex & Love for Grownups. “They see drugs as their friends.”

Viagra, Cialis, Levitra -- together these make up a $2.5 billion market. 

“I think it has made them feel like they have a new lease on life in many cases,” said Linda Fisher,” research director at AARP.

A new lease on life and a new desire for items and experiences to enhance their sex lives. It's not just Bob Dylan selling Victoria's Secret.

“When boomers are looking at their sexual response as they age, they're often concerned about what's going to keep it exhilarating,” said Fisher. “And one of the ways that I think it's going to affect the marketplace is that novelty and adventure drive up sexual response.”

A study by AARP found that 60 percent of boomers say they are sexually active at least once a week. Some 70 percent of single boomers say they date regularly. And there are more single seniors today than there were 20 years ago. And then there’s the Internet.

“The Internet has been a boon to this age group,” said Sheehy.

And a boon to companies betting on boomer romance. The over-50 set is Match.com's fastest growing segment; the site has logged a 300 percent increase in the last five years. Sites like Primesingles.net specifically target boomers.

Boomers are more accepting of sex outside of marriage and of co-habitation without marriage.  The same lifestyle they pioneered in the '60s is translating into a brand new marketplace to serve them in their 60s.

“I don't mean finding 15 different ways to swing from a chandelier,” said Fisher. “But novelty in life drives up peoples sense of well being.”

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