Baby boomers — marketing to the generations

They’re relatively affluent, eyeing retirement and more tech-savvy than stereotypes might indicate. What does that mean for marketers?

Baby Boomers — the oldest of whom are now 75 and the youngest around 55 years old. Their parents grew up amidst poverty and several years of global economic turmoil, the Great Depression and two world wars. Boomers, however, grew up during the longest period of sustained prosperity and coined the term teenagers for the first time. They have amassed 54% of the nation’s wealth, and have become one of the most fascinating generations for marketers.

“Boomers are the most active, healthy, tech-savvy, adventurous, and, crucially, affluent generation in history.”  — Rachel Deacon, WARC

Boomers have often been misinterpreted and mislabeled by younger generations as being “out of touch” and “set in their ways.” Popular memes using the tag phrase “Ok, Boomer” further exemplify this generational polarization. 

The fact is, baby boomers are not as technologically challenged as brands like to think. They stick to what they know for the most part, but are also not afraid to try new things, as long as they’ve been tried and tested. They value tradition and consistency and have high expectations, which leads to a lot of ‘aging in place’. They are slow to adapt to new things, if they ever adapt at all. They are on social media, with traditional platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn remaining top of use. Six out of 10 are comfortable with online purchases, but with most things, they prefer to do thorough research, and they prefer to purchase via a home computer over a mobile device

Another important fact to note is that boomers are getting older, with the youngest classified boomer being a few years from retirement. Americans are also waiting longer to retire than years before, either out of the need to sustain themselves financially or the sheer drive and desire to continue working. By 2035, older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Age will not just be part of the discussion in advertising, but brands in general, as new marketplace needs are being met to service an older generation. Deloitte unveiled a “Future of Ageing Report” that details how in the coming years there’ll be a conversational shift from simply treating disease to sustaining well-being. 

Why is age seemingly a disruptor topic? Because people are living longer than ever before. So in these “twilight years,” Americans are able to do more, see more and buy more than any other generation before them. But even with a healthier elder generation, there are still factors of age to consider. For example, as people age, dexterity and vision begin to decline, which is an important factor to consider as we design platforms for making purchases or sharing information. Brands are having to adapt like never before. 

If all of these things are true of baby boomers—technologically savvy, affluent, approaching a new age of retirement, what does that mean for marketers? 

Here are a few things to consider: 

  1. Loyalty. Baby boomers value brand loyalty and legacy brands because they value familiarity. E-marketer use the phrase ‘aging in place’. Boomers are more likely to have repeat purchases at a higher price than choose a new option that is much cheaper. They value the tried and true. 
  2. Innovation. As we mentioned earlier, an aging population has different technological needs than a younger generation. When creating content and platforms, be sure to think about UX. Responsive design is not enough when marketing to baby boomers. Consider additional features like larger font sizes for visually impaired, captioning for video for the hearing impaired and ease of navigation for those who are not as technologically savvy. 
  3. Authenticity. Brand authenticity is a major factor in creating loyalty. Boomers value brands that are transparent, authentic and consistent. 

Baby boomers are just one segment of the population, but since they make up 54% of the nation’s wealth, they are impossible to ignore. While marketing is the goal, selling is not always our purpose. 

Our value proposition as marketers is not just offering something of value to consumers, it’s making consumers feel valued. We have the potential to meet needs and make consumers feel heard and understood. When we take into consideration people’s ongoing needs, such as considering baby boomers as they age, we not only add value, we also create relationships. 

Follow along with our series as we continue to tackle the importance of generational marketing and learn more about building relationships with your target audience!