Online Marketing to Baby Boomers

Don’t Ignore the Wealthiest, Most Powerful Generation on the Internet

With all the focus on Millennials, young marketing professionals often forget that some 70 percent of the wealth in the developed world—$3 trillion in the USA alone— is controlled by a very different group: Baby Boomers.

(U.S. Millennials, in contrast, control about $200 billion, Gen X $750 billion.)

Some social media mavens write Baby Boomers off as computer illiterate, because they needed your help getting their smartphone set up that one time. But, around 80 percent of Boomers are online, for an average of 27 hours per week—shopping, reading, running their companies, and lurking on Facebook to find out more about that nice young lady you’ve been seeing.

Older man enjoying the outdoors
The Woodstock generation is all grown up and ready to shop. Photo courtesy of Rudy Anderson

While they do respond to traditional advertising mediums that Millennials have for the most part forgotten, like direct mailers and television ads, they are more comfortable on the Internet every day.

Two thirds of Boomers made an online purchase in the past month. Half have a Facebook account; one in five uses Twitter. They make up 35 percent of all tablet users. While they aren’t quite as interested in SnapChat or Tinder as their grandkids, 96 percent use email to keep in touch.

So how do you reach out to this affluent, sophisticated, computer-savvy crew? It’s not easy, but here are some hints.

They’re Willing to Pay Extra

Thanks to a series of historical accidents, U.S. Baby Boomers are the wealthiest group of working-class people in history. They could leave it all to their kids, sure, but they’d rather give it to you, because you didn’t get snippy when they asked for help with their smartphone that one time.

So, don’t even worry about those coupons that Millennials love so much—Boomers barely even notice them.

In general, Boomers have moved past conspicuous consumption—luxury cars, watches, and so forth. That sort of status enhancer won’t get them to open their wallet. The “coolness” factor that works so well with Gen X will also fall on (figuratively) deaf ears.

Vintage image of man getting a tattoo

Did you seriously think you could offer them anything cooler than 1963? Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What they want are products and services that make their lives more convenient, interesting, and educational. And, they’re willing to pay a premium for it.

Like Millennials, Boomers tend to be more interested in experiences than things. Travel professionals already know that 80 percent of their luxury customers are over 55.

They also enjoy remodeling their homes and customizing their space, and will pay extra to make sure it’s all done correctly. As they retire, they’re looking for new, experiential hobbies, for instance, taking drone videos for their YouTube channel.

So, make sure that you highlight the great experience your product or service offers. Talk about how it will improve and enrich their lives. It’s not just a tablet, it’s a way to stay in touch with the grandkids, listen to great music, and keep up with “Orange is the New Black” almost anywhere.

Have A Real Person Available At Your Help Desk

Sure, anyone can Google all the information they need to set up your product. Heck, it’s already on your website’s FAQs.

But, Baby Boomers are more likely to want to talk to a real, live person. That’s why services that specialize in seniors, from banks to insurance companies, always have operators standing by.

They know that experience often matters to their most valued (and valuable) clients more than the actual product, especially when it comes to telling their friends about your company.

Personal Referrals Are the Gold Standard

While 86 percent of Baby Boomers do online research before buying goods and services, they don’t put as much stock in TripAdvisor and Amazon reviews as today’s young whippersnappers. They would much rather get a recommendation from trusted friends, family, and coworkers.

Cards Against Humanity didn’t know why their sales had spiked in Colorado, until this video was released.

Why the distrust? According to Jim Gilmartin, president of Coming of Age, “You get smarter, that’s what it boils down to.” It’s much harder to hack a Boomer.

Facebook, where more than half of Baby Boomers have accounts, is a great place to start. If they see that three or four of their friends “like” your page (perhaps because you shelled out for sponsored content), they’ll be more likely to check you out. This works across social media platforms.

What you’re really looking for, however, is face-to-face recommendations. So make sure that every interaction with your company is positive, and better yet, memorable. You want to be part of a great story to tell the ladies after church.

They Like to See Themselves

Humans have been obsessed with youth and beauty for eons, so it seems like a no-brainer to include stock photos of sexy twenty-somethings on all your marketing materials. But, if you’re looking for Boomer bucks, you may want to reconsider.

Dos Equis Man

Boomers are older, but they aren’t old. (You won’t be either at their age, trust us.) You can find plenty of images depicting smoking-hot ladies and gentlemen “of a certain age,” or hire models and create your own.

Just make sure to include them, because those photos could catch the eye of far more valuable customers than the sweet young things you’ve relied on until now.

 Silly Marketer, Brands Are For Kids

Baby Boomers used to be very brand-loyal, and then they grew up. Having seen prices rise, formulas change, and quality drop, they’re interested in the best product available, not the label that makes them “feel” something.

And, of course, they still haven’t forgotten the “rebellious” and “independent” labels that they earned in 1968 or so. They are famously eager to keep trying something new.

That’s not such good news if you’re Coca Cola or Apple, but if you’re a fresh young startup, the Boomer market is wide open. So take a look at these tips and hints, call your mom, and consider tailoring more of your business model to the Boom that got this whole generational marketing meme started.

2016-10-21T11:03:09-05:00 By |Categories: Communication, Marketing|Tags: , , |