Challenging misconceptions: Baby boomers are online and ready to spend


Jul 15 2020

As we wrote previously, Gen Z is rapidly and dramatically changing the retail landscape as we know it. As the first digital natives, they are making the case for increasingly digitalized and personalized customer experiences. Many marketers today are falling into the trap of trying to appeal exclusively to this shiny new audience, at the expense of their older – and possibly more valuable – predecessors.

Brands often have a warped view of the baby boomer audience, yet the reality is that today’s baby boomers are embracing technology, social media and ecommerce at a rapid rate. This consumer group, born between 1946 and 1964, continue to account for a significant proportion of consumer spend in the market. Here, we debunk the misconceptions of this valuable consumer segment.

Misconception #1: We’re digital-only, they won’t buy from us

Today’s baby boomers are increasingly tech-savvy. The generation are wholeheartedly embracing online shopping, with Visa reporting that card-not-present transactions account for 40% of credit spending for consumers aged 60-69. Online shopping has become even more ingrained in their habits since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the group turning to digital retail to mitigate the risks posed by in-store shopping. Baby boomers certainly have the money to spend, too, with the group reportedly possessing 70% of all disposable income in the US (Inc).

Takeaway for brands: Digitally mature businesses possess a significant advantage in the first party customer data they receive. Many brands have a conceived idea of who their customer is, yet their data says something different. Brands should be deep-diving into their first-party data on a regular basis to truly understand and segment their audiences – and many digital brands may be surprised to find that baby boomers already exist within their customer base.

Misconception #2: They mainly consume traditional media, so it will cost a lot to reach them

Surprisingly, baby boomers’ social media usage actually eclipses their younger counterparts, with the group 19% more likely to share content on Facebook than any other age group, according to Mobile Marketer. Social media penetration tends to remain high across regions – in APAC, Global Web Index reports that 40% of Baby Boomers use Facebook, a further 48% use YouTube, and 23% use Instagram. That being said, brands targeting this generation should further segment the group rather than looking at them as a whole; a consumer who is currently 56 will have significantly different behavior and media consumption patterns than one who is 74.

Takeaway for brands: Don’t shy away from making use of social and digital media to reach your baby boomer consumers. Not only are the group very much present on social and digital channels, targeting them through these methods also affords brands the ability to further segment the group depending on the behaviors that resonate. Brands should be making use of audience targeting tools with psychographic and behavioral overlays to reach this audience with the messages that matter.

Misconception #3: They’re retirees, our product/service won’t resonate

Today’s baby boomer generation is working longer and harder than ever. In fact, according to Visa, those over 60 are the only age group who are actually increasing their labor force participation rate. The group values both career satisfaction and the lifestyle afforded to them by higher levels of disposable income highly, and they are willing to make the sacrifice of working past retirement age to keep these up. Their mindset plays into these decisions too, with BigCommerce reporting that the generation tends to think of themselves as being about 10 years younger than they actually are.

Takeaway for brands: Brands should not discount baby boomers as a non-working consumer group. Instead, for effective advertising, brands should understand the unique preferences that they have. Conducting focus groups and usability studies with existing baby boomer consumers may be an effective way of understanding how a brand resonates with this generation, and what changes or improvements can be made to further strengthen this relationship.

At Tag, we partner with brands and agencies to craft marketing campaigns that truly resonate with your key consumers. Our team of retail marketing experts create simpler, cost-effective and consumer-centric marketing campaigns that can be delivered across channels. We deeply understand shopper behavior, using data and insights to reach the right consumer with the right message at the right time.

Schedule a call today to discuss how we can support your changing marketing needs.

Related reads:

Why direct to consumer brands are winning retail in 2020

Leading the way: How Gen Z is changing the face of retail

5 steps to boost ecommerce success

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