Two people with a total of $100 walk into your newly opened business. One person gets to spend $30 of the total; the other will spend $70. Which one do you target first?
If you chose the one with $70, you chose the Baby Boomer. Unfortunately, many new businesses ignore Boomers, which is pretty misguided considering their generation controls 70% of the disposable income in the U.S.
Born between the years of 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are in a variety of stages in their lives. On one end of that spectrum, Boomerswho are in their early seventies may have retired and become grandparents. And on the opposite end, Boomers in their mid-fifties might still have kids in junior high. Regardless of the stage of life in which a member of this generation finds him- or herself, Baby Boomers are almost ideal customers for a variety of reasons.
First of all, they spend $3.2 trillion annually in the U.S. (Remember that 70% of disposable income they control?) Plus, they're reachable: Boomers spend an average of three hours per day watching broadcast television and an average of 27 hours per week online--scrolling through Facebook, Googling items of interest, and reading blogs and reviews. Perhaps because of all that online research, they spend smart: They expect good customer service and look for products that will improve their lives, including the latest technology.
Because Baby Boomers clearly have money to spend and the savvy to spend it wisely, businesses must market to the needs of this generation if they want to prosper. Boomers also tend to be loyal to brands. Be good to them, and they will be good to you. Here are a few things to keep in mind when marketing to Baby Boomers:
1. Mind your communication Ps and Qs.
Remember that Baby Boomers don't consider themselves senior citizens. Even though Boomers continue to retire in record numbers, the oldest ones are only 73 (the new 43!), and the youngest are just 55. They take offense at words or storytelling that smacks of ageism or resorts to clichés.
Make sure the overall tone of your marketing doesn't come across as condescending or imply that your Boomer audience is irrelevant. Don't overexplain trends or tech terms or dumb down your messaging as though you're talking to children--you're actually trying to speak to a generation that boasts a lot of life experience. Boomers want to interact with brands that understand they are not old and that they make their own decisions.
Besides paying close attention to your message, you'll want to ensure that the medium for your message meets Boomers where they are at instead of where stereotypes say they should be. Having grown up protesting "the establishment," Boomers value the opinions of peers over those of authority, whether they get those opinions in person or via their Facebook newsfeed. Baby Boomers also depend heavily on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, and they enjoy the convenience of buying online. Keep these mediums in mind when crafting your marketing strategy.
2. Remember that Boomers use tech just like their kids do.
While your grandma might not wait in line for the latest iPhone, she is more tech-focused than you're giving her credit for. In fact, Baby Boomers spend more on technologythan other generations.
One driver of this spending is the Boomer generation's embrace of the technologies that are transforming healthcare, a growing concern of this cohort. "The theme of healthcare is going to be completely changed through simple things like connecting data from heart monitors, glucose meters, and understanding how someone's moving around their house," explains Geoff Gross, founder and CEO of Medical Guardian. From virtual doctor's visits to wearable sensors, the modern healthcare landscape will offer Boomers a bevy of tools to help them stay healthy and live longer.
So if you've been ignoring Boomers because you don't think they'll use your tech tools, think again. Your marketing strategy should speak to Boomers directly, rather than addressing their children in the hope they'll buy your product or service for their parents. Whether your tech can help Boomers stay fit or keep them in touch with their families, it's all about putting yourself in their shoes--and then showing them there's an app for that.
3. Make your marketing personal--and interpersonal.
Boomers "value education, loyalty, and authenticity," says Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. "If you can market your products in this way, you'll grab their attention." They also rely on brands based on their past experiences and welcome recommendations from sales associates with whom they've had positive interactions.
Retailers can capitalize on these tendencies by focusing on clienteling apps, which use data about customer preferences to develop long-term relationships with consumers. These have become vital tools in engaging the Boomer generation. Through these store associate apps, your business can auto-recommend products based on a customer's prior purchases, send alerts about new promotions, and even update the customer on his or her status in your store loyalty program. These apps can open up a more personalized line of communication between you and your Baby Boom customers, which in turn makes them feel more connected to your brand.
The Baby Boom generation provides an ideal target for those with something valuable to offer. Marketers must be more mindful of this huge audience that has money to spend. Get Boomers to trust you by offering them a solid product or service with quality customer care, and you will earn their enduring loyalty.
Just remember not to call them "old."