What’s a business got to do to woo the Boom? In this installment of our Booming Business series, we share three steps to reach and engage the Baby Boom generation for your business.
From welcoming grandchildren to caring for aging parents, Baby Boomers are in charge of making major financials decisions and commitments for others and for themselves. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey shows that adults 55-64 outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, from food, household furnishing, entertainment, personal care, gifts, etc. According to Nielsen research, all that adds up to nearly $230 billion, or 55% of consumer packaged goods sales every year.
They can be loyal shoppers, but they aren’t set in their ways. Boomers look for new experiences and are willing to try something other than the same old. They can be loyal shoppers, but are less likely to be as set in their ways as their parents' generation. Now, more than ever, the older generation seems ready and willing to try and buy something different.
Are you willing to be different? Can you deliver on an experience that will earn their loyalty, and with that, their money?
1. Meet them where they are: Online. Boomers are the generation that lead us into the digital revolution. This is the original tech-savvy generation, responsible for bringing computers into the mainstream and putting them in our pockets. For the most part, Boomers are online and on-the-go. The 50+ crowd is also the fastest growing demographic on Facebook (see chart). If your business lacks a solid social media and digital marketing strategy, what are you waiting for? What is your business missing out on?
The Internet is the most important source of information for Boomers when they make major purchasing decisions*. And, when they shop online, they outspend younger adults 2:1 on a per-capita basis**. They research and book travel online, making Trip Advisor the place millions of people go first when planning travel and Yelp the first stop in the search for a good restaurant. Boomers collect ideas for home improvement on Pinterest and Houzz, and share their progress on Facebook. The generation that once put on sweatbands and leg warmers to work out with Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons are now tracking their workouts with Fitbits and fitness apps.
2. Speak their language. Boomers came of age between the early-1960s to the mid-1980s. They are more likely than their parents to have graduated from college and more likely to have advanced degrees. At the same time, they the flower children all grown-up, they are the original rock 'n roll generation. Boomers may be over 50, but they think younger and relate to the businesses that connect with them, their needs, and their life experience. Check the tone and style of your marketing – will it appeal to their sensibilities? Does it present an experience they can relate to and want to join?
3. Be authentic, be honest. Deliver on your promise. This is the generation that knows all too well that “if it seems too good to be true...” The lessons of falling for get-rich, get-thin, get-healthy, get-famous promises in the past have made them more skeptical today. They can see through the hype and will be drawn to brands they feel they can trust. But if brand loyalty cost them in the past, it’s a mistake they won’t make now. If your marketing language relies on hype, unrealistic promises, or boring claims they've heard before, step back and re-think how to present the difference your product or service brings to their life. And make sure you–and everyone on your team–is able and enabled to deliver on the promise.
That was then. This is now.
When marketing to Baby Boomers, consider their experiences over the past decade. Many Boomers saw their retirement plans, and even those of their parents, dramatically change when the economy fell apart. Suddenly, their aging parents and adult children moved in with them to save money, stocks and retirement funds failed, second homes intended for retirement went on the market and didn’t sell, and, even as retirement was within reach, career jobs were lost. Boomers watched as dreams went down the drain. But that was then.
The good news now: Boomers are spending again! They are back in the stores, shopping online, buying for themselves and friends and family, traveling, starting new businesses, reshaping their retirement dreams. No question about it, they are consumers with a different mind-set. While price is important, and they may be more cautious with their money, buying decisions aren't always about price. Boomers are willing to pay for a better experience, something more, something different. For the businesses and brands that treat them right and deliver a great customer experience, Baby Boomers can be the most loyal and raving fans!
Read more about Baby Boomer marketing.
Kellie Nolan is co-founder and managing partner at Brilliant Lens. Her focus is helping clients deliver winning experiences that engage, inspire, and succeed. She translates business ideas and vision into actionable plans with strategic goals. Kellie works with clients to craft memorable messages and use storytelling to bring relevance and clarity to B2B or B2C marketing, employee communications, and non-profit community building.
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