Marketing to Baby Boomers: A Guide to Understanding The Boomer Generation
Contrary to popular belief, marketing to Baby Boomers doesn’t only include sending direct mail pieces and advertising on Fox news. And understanding that generational marketing is about observing prevalent behaviors among similarly aged people and not about stereotyping a whole generation is something that will help you with your digital marketing strategies.
Baby Boomers are a highly-engaged and active audience that spends a lot of time online—in fact, they make 20% more online purchases than Millennials, the generation typically associated with online usage. Other important observations about Baby Boomers include:
- 68% of Baby Boomers own smartphones. And Facebook use has grown fastest among the older generation since 2012.
- Boomers spend more than $548.1 billion annually, that’s $200 billion more than Gen X, the next highest spending generation.
- 96% of Baby Boomers use search engines.
Who are Baby Boomers?
Baby Boomers consist of people born from 1946-1964—making them 56-74 years old as of 2020. Baby Boomers were given the name due to a surge in births during the economic boom after World War II. While they didn’t grow up with technology like Gen Z, they are catching up. Even though more than half, 68%, of the generation own a smartphone, they are more likely to be accessing the internet using a desktop or laptop.
Events That Shaped Baby Boomers’ Lives
Baby Boomers were dubbed the “Me decade” in the 1970s by writer Tom Wolfe due to a push toward self-fulfillment among young people in that era. They experienced extreme culture changes from the 60s to the 70s.
In the 60s were a time of political protests, The Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement—which led to protesting the Vietnam War and the Woodstock counterculture. The older generation also lived through the rise of TV, with about 90% of American households owning a television set by the early 1960s.
Baby Boomer Character Traits
Baby Boomers still believe in the American dream, are more financially stable than any other generation and less influenced by their peers. While dubbed the “Me Generation” in the 70s, they are still very loyal to their favorite brands, not unlike Gen Xers.
Baby Boomers have the most disposable income.
Possessing more than half of all U.S. household wealth, Baby Boomers have a lot of disposable income. They are also spending more than other generations. Marketers are taking notice, with digital ad spend targeted at Boomers increasing 25% year over year.
They are less influenced by peers
Gen Z leans on peer reviews, both from known peers and online peers—they are just reaching that age when they need to start making larger purchasing decisions and need advice. In contrast, Baby Boomers have been “around the block” and are set in their ways. They are uninfluenced by social commerce, with only 8% trusting social media ads for recommendations when shopping.
Baby Boomers don’t understand retargeting ads
In connection with social media influence, Baby Boomers also don’t understand ads that are being remarketed to them. They see brands as invading their privacy on social media instead of a connection to them.
They Make 20% more online purchases than Millennials
While Millennials are stereotypically associated with online activity and the focus of many marketers’ strategies, Baby Boomers are outspending them by 20% through online purchasing. The reason is simple, Millennials are cash strapped. They grew up during an economic downturn and left college with huge debts and not a lot of jobs available. So, they are still catching up.
Baby Boomers’ Relationship with Technology
Baby Boomers were middle-aged during the boom of home computers and internet usage. While they aren’t the generation known for digital usage, that’s a stat associated with Millennials, they are catching up pretty quickly. However, unlike the Millennial generation, Baby Boomers are 80% more likely to access the internet on a desktop computer versus a smartphone.
Baby Boomers share videos
54% of Baby Boomers watch video online. They aren’t looking for fast-paced, gif-heavy content. They want informative, slower-paced videos. Finding the right tone, speed and story will get Baby Boomers sharing and interacting with your video.
Baby Boomers and Social Media
Facebook is the favorite social media channel for Baby Boomers with 57% of the generation active on the platform. That’s followed by channels like YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Baby Boomers use social media for social purposes, spending more than an hour every day catching up with friends and sharing informative, engaging content.
What Are My Options for Marketing to Baby Boomers?
According to Forbes, 96% of Baby Boomers use search engines, one of their top resources to gather information. And more than half are on Facebook and other social media channels, but where should you funnel your budgets?
Places to Advertise
Based on research, Google paid search is a no-brainer. But you can also budget for Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising or possibly email marketing. Understanding where your audience is and what makes the most sense for your brand will help play a role in where you advertise. Just remember that if you are looking for the top of the funnel audiences, including pricing information is very important to Baby Boomers.
Writing your Ads
A couple of things to keep in mind when writing your ads for Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers see themselves as active—they aren’t their parents and don’t want to be viewed that way by brands. Stay away from words that have to do with aging like “golden years” or “elderly”. The other thing to remember is they don’t understand internet slang. So when targeting Baby Boomers try to stay away from trendy, slang terms that younger generations are accustomed to.
5 Tips for Marketing to Baby Boomers
1. Include price at the top of the funnel
While Baby Boomers have the most disposable income than any other generation, they still are comparing prices at the top of the funnel. What this means for marketers is that if you’re trying to reach a new audience and looking at Baby Boomers, price-related content in your ad will do well
2. Slow-paced and informative videos work.
Baby Boomers generally like slower videos with explanations and details about your product or service. Find creative ways to educate them and they will be more apt to share your video than any other generation. Baby Boomers are 19% more likely to share video content.
3. Try LinkedIn advertising.
Baby Boomers make up 29% of today’s workforce, and while they are retiring in droves—some are working later in life. And because they’ve had more than 30 years they are in positions of authority and making purchasing decisions for large corporations. So if you’re a B2B organization and want to target active, leadership roles, focusing messaging on Baby Boomers for LinkedIn could potentially work.
4. Use an omnichannel marketing approach.
In-store experiences are just as important as your digital experiences. Make sure you are connecting your digital strategies to that in-store. Baby Boomers want to use online interactions to make their lives easier. So if they start interacting with your brand on Facebook, make sure to invite them in-store with offers or features like online inventory availability.
5. Facebook Retargeting—tread lightly
Baby Boomers are likely to misunderstand retargeted or branded content on social media. So if you’re retargeting them on Facebook, be careful about your tactics. You don’t want to cause distrust for trying to “trick” them.
Baby Boomers are Technically Savvy
Baby Boomers are online, they are using social media and they are engaging with brands. Understanding how they are using social media platforms, researching products online and interacting with their favorite brands will help you understand what marketing tactics will work.
How Can AdShark Marketing Help?
If you’re ready to start implementing digital marketing tactics in 2020, AdShark can help with your paid search and paid social campaigns. Give us a call and we will analyze what you’ve been doing and how to improve your results to grow your business.