I’m a Baby Boomer, part of the generation born between 1946 – 1964. At 75.4 million strong, we make up 40% of the U.S. consumer population and half of consumer spending, according to AARP.
Although this generation has taken a hit by the Great Recession, it’s still considered wealthy and expected to inherit $8.4 trillion by 2030! We should only live long enough to enjoy it.
But, some research says that only 10% of ad dollars are targeting this generation.
“We weren’t surprised to find that marketers underestimate the revenue opportunity with mature consumers. What surprised us is the magnitude of these missed opportunities and the extent to which marketers’ own biases become barriers to pursuing this market.” (Jeff Weiss, CEO, Age of Majority quoted in the Toronto Star.)*
*Jeff and I collaborated on a Kitchenaid promotion for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation many moons ago.
Much of the recent Boomer research focuses on B2C (business-to-consumer). If you market B2B (business-to-business), you may still want to review this information to keep informed when managing relationships with B2B Boomer buyers.
So, what does this mean for your business or nonprofit? Capitalize on these five things to do when marketing to Baby Boomers:
1. Build Trust
Boomers do research before spending, ensuring they get the best product at the best price. (For nonprofits, that may mean thorough research on your mission and outcomes.)
According to MediaPost, boomers trust peers, friends, and relatives a lot more than they trust you.
⇒ Share reviews, testimonials, and recommendations with them.
⇒ Educate them with the information they need to make informed decisions such as content, and data.
⇒ Be honest and forthright.
⇒ Listen, listen, listen.
⇒ Communicate regularly.
⇒ Keep your promises.
2. Serve Them Flawlessly
Boomers expect more from you than other generations. If you don’t demonstrate your appreciation; your location is messy; or returns are a hassle, beware. They’ll write you off. (LoyaltyOne survey of U.S. and Canadian consumers.)
One Australian study by LivePerson showed that 52% of older consumers (aged 45 and over) have a ‘nemesis’ brand – one they’ll never do business with again because of the poor customer service they received.
According to MarketingSherpa, Baby Boomers were most likely to say that when companies don’t practice customer-first marketing, it makes them unsatisfied. Nearly half (43%) of unsatisfied Baby Boomers said that “[company name] does not put my needs and wants above its own business goals.”
⇒ Be respectful, sincere, and human.
⇒ Demonstrate flexibility and honor their requests as best as you can.
⇒ Be proactive and anticipate their needs.
⇒ Find ways to show them your appreciation.
⇒ Whenever possible, personalize their customer experiences.
3. Reach Them Where They Hang Out
Contrary to what some younger marketers may believe, Boomers are active in the digital space. They actually spend 27 hours per week online, which is two hours more per week than those who are between 16 and 34. (Colorado University)
A Pew Research Center report released last year found that two-thirds of the 65+ population now use the Internet, up from just 12% at the turn of the century, and a recently-published Adobe Digital Insights study found that 66% of those ages 50-64 report being either “moderate” or “digitally savvy.”
Over 82% of Boomers belong to at least one social media site (DMN3) and a majority still prefer to shop online via computers and laptops as opposed to phones and tablets.
About 60% of Baby Boomers spend time reading blogs and online articles as a source of information and intrigue, and about 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services. (Forbes, 2017)
A study conducted by InMan Marketing found that 68% of 45 to 64 year-olds greatly prefer direct mail to other forms of outbound marketing— leaving Boomers 58% more likely to respond to direct mail than any other generation. (Awlogy)
⇒ Consider print marketing collateral: brochures, catalogs, newsletters, and direct mail.
⇒ Target Boomers on Facebook. About three quarters of them use social media, primarily Facebook.
⇒ More than 8 out of 10 Boomers read newspapers across multiple platforms, so consider display ads and/or PR news releases. (News Media Canada)
⇒ Television is the most significant influence in getting Boomers to search online for information. (DMN3) Nonprofits can take advantage of placing free public service announcements (PSAs).
⇒ Improve the ways Boomers find you when searching on Google. Use search engine marketing (SEM), including SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) ads.
4. Accommodate Their Needs
As Boomers age, many experience a decline in mobility, sight, hearing, dexterity, and other age-related conditions. According to 2015 U.S. disability statistics, there are 316 million+ Americans living with disabilities.
By age 65, statistics show that two-thirds of all Baby Bloomers have at least one chronic disease and over the age of 65, two thirds of are expected to have five or more chronic diseases. (BabyBoomer Magazine)
⇒ Ensure that your print and digital marketing collateral have larger font sizes.
This font size is too small for most Boomers.
⇒ Review “How People with Disabilities Use the Web” international standards from W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
⇒ To call your website accessible would mean these elements were considered: (Roundedcube, Inc.)
- Alternate Text provided for any non-text content
- Easy to see and/or hear all content / media
- Your content is responsive to alternative methods of presentation (screen readers)
- Existing web functionality can be navigable with Keyboard only
- Light/Color options are not at risk to cause seizures
- Includes a method for users to always find navigation and content without assistance
5. Understand the Boomer Mindset
According to the Forbes Communications Council:
- Seniors in today’s society don’t want to be called elderly, although they don’t mind being referred to as older adults or seniors.
- Older Boomers appreciate it when they can converse with people who are patient without being patronizing or condescending.
- Unlike marketing to younger audiences, older adults aren’t drawn in by trendy jargon, slang or internet acronyms.
- According to the Kaufmann Foundation, Baby Boomers are twice as likely to launch a new business in 2015 compared to millennials.
⇒ Boomers are an active generation. Use active imagery they believe could be them.
⇒ Keep content simpler and get to the point. They want to quickly connect their needs with the products and services you offer.
⇒ Focus on their abilities and sense of wellbeing.
⇒ “Teach Boomers about your product instead of trying to sell it. Boomers may want to have paper brochures to review, however, so be prepared with print media you can hand out or mail to their homes.” (Peter Koeppel, Koeppel Direct)
⇒ “Go for the throwback look. Baby Boomers are the new hipsters. Remember, these people grew up in the age of the Beatles, Woodstock, and the hippies. A little nostalgia couldn’t hurt your marketing.” (Neil Patel)
⇒ “When using abbreviations and tech terms in your content, you should at least consider explaining those abbreviations to ensure your audience fully understands your intentions.” (Syed Balkhi, Entrepreneur)
If your products, services, or nonprofit mission rely on Baby Boomer dollars, you may want to segment your marketing collateral and messaging to accommodate their specific needs and wants. They have money to spend, so don’t ignore this generation.