Growing up in a large family and having a big family of my own, I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of generations my entire life. From my parents (traditionalists) to my own generation (baby boomers) to some of my younger siblings (Generation X) to my kids (millennials) and now my grandkids (Generation Z), it’s interesting to see the differences from one generation to the next. It’s crazy how much can change in just the span of a generation. For that matter, the technology advancements made within the past few years are mind-boggling—smartphones and electric cars are merely two examples.
Some generational characteristics are inherent to their time period. My kids grew up with technology, so it makes sense they’re more likely to use online shopping. My parents, on the other hand, aren’t as comfortable with computers or smartphones and would prefer to shop in person. Then there’s my generation: baby boomers. I’m too old to know how to post a video to Facebook, but young enough to know how to shoot off quick emails and texts or know the importance of SEO.
Marketing to Baby Boomers: Not Quite a Lost Art
Even seasoned pros tend to forget about marketing to baby boomers. They’re too consumed with millennials and Gen Zs and their increasing purchasing power. I don’t blame them. The younger generations are important to marketers, especially since they’re far more open to sharing personal information and befriending brands. But to ignore baby boomers is a big mistake. We’re still a large population with a lot of spending power behind us. As my colleague Debora Haskel has observed, if you’re not marketing to us, you’re missing out on a large piece of the pie.
Millennials are a big generation at 75.4 million, but baby boomers aren’t that far behind with 74.9 million. Those over the age of 50 make $2.4 trillion in annual income in the U.S., and AARP reports that about half of all consumer spending is done by baby boomers. Yet only 5–10% of marketing efforts target my generation. As Jody Holtzman, head of AARP’s Thought Leadership unit, said in a Bloomberg Business article, “You’d have to be an idiot to turn your back on this humongous growth market.”
The Secret Ingredients to Reaching Baby Boomers
If your plan involves marketing to baby boomers, here are five tips to keep in mind:
- Expand your marketing channels. You might be surprised to learn that those age 50+ spend $7 billion per year online. Direct mail is still a high response channel for baby boomers, but marketing efforts—no matter the generation—should never be left to one channel.
- Prove yourself. While younger generations like millennials are more apt to ask their friend’s opinions on brands before making buying decisions, baby boomers rely on expert endorsements. Ratings, reviews, and other third-party endorsements go a long way in proving your worth.
- Less isn’t more. Millennials like the bare minimum of information with the option to learn more. Baby boomers prefer to have all the information right then and there. Longer copy and more in-depth explanations show us that you know what you’re talking about, are transparent in your product or service, and allow us to make an informed decision without feeling like we have to research you.
- Be prepared for the long haul. Younger generations are known for wanting things immediately. Baby boomers view our purchases as investments, and want to take our time to know our options. This also means you need to be appropriately staffed so you can answer all of our questions and give us personal, one-on-one attention.
- Make your marketing baby boomer-friendly. That means larger print, simpler designs, clear call outs, and other smart design choices that appeal to those of us with less-than perfect eyesight or with limited familiarity with technology. But make no mistake—we aren’t stupid. Make sure you’re making things easy, not just dumbing them down.
Marketing to baby boomers is still a huge opportunity for most brands. If you’d like to learn how you can open up your business to this better-with-age audience, drop me a line.
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