Over the course of this year, the youngest of the Baby Boomers (born in 1964) will turn 50. This unique generation makes up approximately one-third of the US adult population and holds a hefty bit of purchasing power, accounting for nearly half of packaged goods spending in 2012. In this article I’ll detail who the boomers are, how they view the world, and – of course – how to reach them.
Who are the Baby Boomers?
Baby Boomers are those born between the years 1946 and 1964. The baby boom coincided with the suburban boom. After WWII, families were being reunited and there was a push for regaining normalcy. This resulted in a massive migration to the city edges where affordable homes were springing up en masses. Boomer children were raised during a time of prosperity in America, enjoying shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch on shiny new televisions bought on the new credit card system. As the economy grew ever stronger, many pursued social change. It was the Boomers who, participated in the Civil Rights Movement, found freedom in the birth-control pill, and experienced the Vietnam War. These events have fundamentally shaped the generation’s behavior and outlook on life.
A recent Mintel study reveals that Boomers’ top personal values are good health, financial security, and having a strong marriage. In another Mintel study, 92% of female Boomers surveyed say they are happier now than they had been at any other age, and some 81% say they feel as sexy as they did in their 20’s.
“60 is the new 40” is the phrase that many are adopting to describe the Boomer mentality. Members of this generation don’t feel “old,” and they don’t want to be treated as such; indeed, they are one of the healthiest generations yet. Boomers are active in both their personal lives and in their work. According to finance expert Mark P. Cussen, although many have not saved enough for retirement, they are finding new careers to pursue and working for causes they believe in. Baby Boomers are still committed to a brighter future and a better world.
In addition to the above values, Boomers tend to care about high-quality goods and customer service more than the younger generations, which name price as the highest consideration. Companies seeking boomer attention will do well to invest in a quality experience for their customers.
Where are they?
Contrary to popular belief, the Boomer generation is online and thriving in the digital space. Many members own smartphones, and although the device is often underutilized in its many abilities, 40% of Boomer smartphone users say they made a purchase after seeing a product on their phone. That statistic goes up to 49% for tablet users. They are also the biggest online spenders overall.
The key to reaching these tech-savvy users, then, is finding what resonates with them and what doesn’t. For example, only 8% of boomer respondents say they like seeing advertisements on social networking sites. That number drops to 4% when asked about text marketing. Emails, on the other hand, fare far better; 37% say they welcome email ads if the company is offering something in return.
In the realm of social media, 60% of Americans, 50 to 64 years of age are active on a social networking site. We see Boomers on Facebook, often for the sake of staying in touch with family (though expansion into the larger social community may occur over time). Twitter is not nearly as popular, but does boast some 13% of 50-64 years-olds and 5% of those 65 years and up. Many of these Twitter users use their accounts to stay in touch with the business world.
Interestingly, one of the great differentiators between marketing to Millennials versus marketing to Boomers is that the latter group is not as impacted by word-of-mouth and social proof as millennials. Instead, they are more receptive to advertising. While word of mouth still influences purchase, especially in financial products and big-ticket items, it is generally secondary to a well-crafted ad.
Due to the sheer magnitude of this generation, the Boomers are a diverse bunch that must be segmented appropriately for a good campaign. For example, leading-edge Boomers will interact with brands in a different way from younger members.
Note: This article is an overview; it is always important to take care in researching the details of your target audience.