Nielsen is out to disprove one of the industry’s oldest beliefs: that consumers over 50 aren’t worth targeting.

Its research indicate that the 78 million baby boomers are a more attractive segment for marketers than the often touted Generation Y (also known as “Millenials”). Nielsen’s research suggests that the trend towards fewer children will result in smaller households and thus fewer younger consumers, and the recovering economy will lead to young families spending less and lower salaries for the younger generation.

Doug Anderson, Nielsen’s senior VP-research and thought leadership, states that America is likely to be a nation of a large older population and slower-growing younger one.

In 2010 so far, baby boomers account for almost 39% of all dollars spent on consumer packaged goods, 40% of total wireless services customers, and 41% of paying customers for Apple personal computers. And changing technology has unleashed new devices and gadgets that are new to all consumers, allowing brands to market to the often forgotten age 50+ consumer. Yes, contrary to popular belief, baby boomers don’t just need life insurance and dentures; they want cell phones and iPads just like the rest of us.

At PowerDirect, we’ve developed thousands of targeting plans for clients, but I’ve rarely seen marketing plans directed at baby boomers. If Nielsen’s study proves true, new front-door marketing opportunities may be available for brands to reposition themselves with one of the largest US demographic segments, especially since this is a medium they’re familiar with.