Today, baby boomers are unquestionably the world’s wealthiest consumers. Boasting a whopping estimated disposable income of $2.6 trillion, this generational group – defining buyers born between 1946 and 1964 – is understandably a crucial source of revenue for many modern businesses. How can you earn the attention and preference of these customers, though?
Ultimately, the same way you would any other generational consumer group: by understanding their unique traits and spending habits, and addressing them through a series of customised integrated marketing, communication and advertising strategies.
To help you reach out to this valuable segment, we have compiled a guide explaining the key characteristics of these shoppers, and detailed how to engage with them through effective marketing techniques.
Marketing to Baby Boomers
Before tailoring promotional strategies that specifically appeal to boomers, you should first take some time to understand the main attributes of this consumer category.
Baby boomers are generally reserved when it comes to their spending habits. Despite their incredible purchasing power, they prefer to make carefully planned purchases and are not susceptible to impulsive buying decisions, regardless of the price tag. This sets them apart from other generational groups.
Predominantly without financial dependents, these consumers tend to spend their money on themselves, indulging in hobbies they are passionate about, investing in improving their homes, or fulfilling their travel dreams.
They differentiate between available brands by identifying those that seemingly align with their traditional values, reflect their famed work ethic, and strike their desire balance between price and quality.
Contrary to popular belief, boomers are largely engaged in today’s digital world, and are comfortable with surfing the web, participating in social media culture, and consuming online media. In addition, they continue to interact with traditional media formats, including TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines.
Importantly, they do not share the ad fatigue that their generational successors have developed, giving brands a fair shot at promoting products and services to them through both online and offline marketing advertising techniques.
So, what can you do to leverage these trends?
1. Match the Cost-Conscious Approach
As noted, baby boomers are famously conscious of product price points. Having been raised in the aftermath of World War II, most of these consumers grew to accept frugality as the norm and continue to follow this belief today. This certainly impacts their buying behaviour, with 62% of boomers reporting that price is their greatest driver of brand loyalty. This, in addition to the fact that boomers often enjoy combining their favoured brands with other alternatives that are more affordable, poses a challenge for marketers seeking to earn their repeat purchases.
There are a number of marketing methods that you can adopt to address this. Among them are running tailored promotions and discounts. Periodically reducing product prices to competitive levels in this way attracts immediate boomer attention, and contributes to long-term consideration should buyers have a positive product experience with their discounted items.
Pushing attractive customer loyalty programmes is also effective, offering boomers exclusive rewards for each repeat purchase they make. These rewards may include free items, time-sensitive discounts, complimentary services, exclusive access to new products, and more.
Finally, to navigate this issue, you may launch new product lines that retail at lower prices compared to your core offerings. This technique can earn your business the sole attention of boomers in its specific categories, catering to both their low and high-end needs.
2. Reach Out Online
A common misconception business leaders harbour is that baby boomers are not tech-savvy, and thus cannot be reached through digital marketing efforts. This could not be further from the truth. Though not digital natives like their generational successors, consumers aged 56-74 certainly use technology in their daily lives. In fact, 9 out of 10 baby boomers own a laptop or desktop computer, while 7 in 10 own a smartphone.
This means that businesses can adopt a combination of online strategies to appeal to boomers and foster advantageous brand-buyer relationships with them. Among the techniques available to entrepreneurs are email marketing, SEO campaigns, content marketing and behavioural retargeting.
Social media marketing is another major strategy that companies may adopt to reach boomers. As of 2019, a significant 70% of surveyed shoppers within this generational category reported using YouTube frequently, while 68% shared the same for Facebook. Both original and promoted content can, therefore, be shared through these prominent platforms to attract the attention of these buyers, aiming either to raise brand awareness or drive conversions.
3. Capture Further Attention Offline
In addition to boasting digital literacy, baby boomers are also highly accessible offline. Broadcast and print media remain important for these consumers and form part of their daily sources of information and entertainment.
Even more importantly for businesses, boomers do not share the prominent ad fatigue of millennials and Generation Z, a fact that allows brands to more readily embark on paid ads across newspapers, magazines, television and radio. In fact, 43% of surveyed US boomer consumers in 2019 reported that TV advertising was their primary source of brand discovery. By comparison, just 11% of respondents reported the same for social media.
Though print ads were not high on buyers’ list of brand discovery sources, at 12%, an overwhelming 55% of boomers shared that they completely trust newspaper ads, making this another very effective method for companies to utilise in order to gain shoppers’ confidence.
4. Communicate Mutual Values
Baby boomers like to buy from brands that share their values and reinforce their own beliefs. You should consider this while creating content for both online and offline communications.
This can be accomplished by carefully adopting vocabulary and imagery that aligns with these consumers’ deep-rooted work ethic, family-first approach, and adherence to beloved traditions. It can also shape the positioning of your products and services’ key benefits, clearly indicating how company offerings add value and fulfil boomer objectives of indulging in their needs and desires while not being wasteful in their buying behaviour.
5. Ensure Excellent Customer Service
Baby boomers often report that positive customer service experiences influence their initial and repeat purchase behaviour. It is important, therefore, that you invest in the necessary infrastructure to deliver consistent, efficacious shopper support.
To do so, you must methodically train all customer-facing employees, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to help older buyers, answer their queries, and address their concerns. Predetermined policies should be determined for returns, refunds, and complaints, supporting a prompt resolution of such issues. This is particularly true of in-store experiences, with 91% of boomers stating that helpful shop floor staff make shopping in brick-and-mortar stores more enjoyable.
Brands can also offer customer support online, engaging with consumers across social media, website live chat functions, support request forms and more. To create a buyer expectation of good customer service online, businesses can share testimonials and positive reviews across their digital platforms.
Buyers’ feedback may also be collected via in-store forms, online surveys and focus groups, to continuously monitor and improve these processes.
Customer service is so important to boomers that it can even sway them to budge on their cost-conscious approach. Indeed, some 53% of surveyed consumers admit that they would happily pay more for a product or solution that offered them superior customer service. Conversely, boomers may abandon an intended purchase as a result of a negative customer service experience.
Effectively marketing to baby boomers can be extremely profitable for businesses. This generational group of consumers – boasting ownership of an astonishing 70% of the disposable income in the US alone – can be targeted using a number of impactful promotional strategies.
To capture the potential of boomer buyers, entrepreneurs should adopt online and offline communication, shape their brand messaging to align with the traditional values and ethical motivations of their intended shoppers. Though this group of buyers is notoriously careful with their cash, their loyalty can be earned through great customer service and consistent brand experiences.
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