Baby Boomers: A Forgotten Goldmine for Retailers?

5/09/2011 09:35:00 AM

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As a member of Generation X, I like to think we’re much more tech savvy than our parents' generation. Younger generations grew up with technology at their fingertips and now spend most of their day making connections with friends and colleagues via our laptops and smartphones. We Tweet, Facebook, IM and text all day long. But the often ignored truth is that our parents are right there with us.

In fact, the Baby Boomer generation is much more tech savvy than we acknowledge. According to Nielsen, Boomers make up 1/3 of all online, social media and Twitter users.

However, once the primary target of Retail marketers, Baby Boomers are being left behind for a much younger, trendier audience. But there are 80 million Boomers currently in the United States, and they are extremely affluent. eMarketer suggests that this digitally-savvy generation, who are between 47-65 years old, “spend more time and money online than any other demographic.”

Pat McDonough, an SVP at Nielsen states, “Boomers should be as desirable for marketers as Millennials and Gen-Xers for years to come; they are the largest single group of consumers, and a valuable target audience. As the U.S. continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers.”

So, how can Retail Advertisers regain the interest of Baby Boomers online?

  • Don’t Age Up Messaging. Baby Boomers are an active generation: working full-time, caring for their parents, travelling, staying on the move. They don’t want to be associated with being old or decrepit. Create ad messaging that appeals to all ages.
  • Keep it Simple. Because Boomers joined the online world later in life, they may not be quite as tech savvy as younger generations. Ensure ad copy and landing pages are as clear and concise as possible. Create a quick and painless checkout experience where consumer privacy and security is clearly stated.
  • Connect via Mobile. Keep up with this fast-paced group by targeting them on their mobile devices. eMarketer estimates that more than 86% of Boomers have a mobile phone. By 2012, more than 25 million Baby Boomers will be accessing the Internet via their mobile device. This mobile ad messaging should stay simple, relevant and mirror offline advertising. Retailers should keep landing page easy to read. Another consideration is to ensure pricing in mobile ads are compelling and location specific. While many Baby Boomers are relatively affluent, a large percentage have had to delay their retirement due to the economy, and are interested in getting the best price available.

Posted by Susan Minniear, Google Retail Team


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Anonymous said...

I am 42 and my parents are 61 and 65 - my inlaws are 65. I have numerous boomer employees. Now, I will agree that they are into health and wealth, but not tech. They use the min to get by and don't want anything complicated that they have to learn. They don't want to learn the computerized part of their job! Marketing to them is complicated.

Donna Hull said...

I'm a 60-year-old boomer who's totally immersed in internet and the technology. My introduction to tech started in my early 50's and I'm loving every minute of it. Am I the norm? Probably not, but there are more of us out there than you might expect.

You've made some great points, especially about "not talking up" to boomers. Please don't call us seniors. We're a thriving community that spans almost two decades.

Keeping tech simple is another good point. I write a blog about active travel for baby boomers. One of my goals is to introduce boomers to travel apps for smartphones and iPads - ease of use is very important.