Marketing to Baby Boomers in 2019 is essential to any comprehensive marketing plan. The wise marketing plan should consider the Baby Boomer Generation for several reasons which we will cover in this article, as well as specific strategies for appealing to this affluent, powerful generation. First, let’s start by learning more about the Baby Boomers generation.
Marketing to Baby Boomers, by the numbers
When marketing to Baby Boomers, it is essential to first understand and who these consumers are. Generally speaking, the Baby boomer generation are said to be those born between the years 1946 and 1964. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 76 million Americans born during the Baby Boomer era. Many of them are now retired, or currently in their peak earning years. A recent report by the World Bank’s Consumer Expenditure Survey found that in 2013, Baby Boomers spent $3.2 trillion annually in the United States. For comparison, that number is larger than the total Gross National Product of many countries, including Russia and France. It is clear that there a lot of Boomers, they have money, and they are spending that money.
A generation in broad terms usually refers to a span of about thirty years. The Baby Boomers have a somewhat unusual, very distinct beginning to their generation: the end of World War II. The United States was devastated after World War II, and people were ready to get back to a normal life. That attitude, along with the G.I. bill that was passed by the United States Congress after World War II helped by making loans available to veterans at very low or even no interest. This encouraged home ownership and enabled many to get a higher education. So now the returning veterans had a home, an education and a job. It was time to start making babies! And boy did they make a lot of them. In the first year of the Baby Boom, 1946, there were 3.4 million recorded births. The birth rate peaked in 1957, when the Census Bureau reported 4.3 million babies born, which stands to this day as the highest number of births ever recorded in a single year in the United States.
Interesting Facts about the Baby Boomer Generation
With the Boomer Generation being so large, there are bound to be some interesting trivia about them! For example, it is interesting to note that 52% of boomers are female. Also, while the youngest of the Boomers will turn 65 in 2029, the oldest of the Baby Boomers, started turning 65 in 2011, and according to AARP, 10,000 Boomers a DAY have been turning 65 every since!
Another interesting fact about the Baby Boomers is that, in part thanks to the loans available from the G.I. bill, the boomers are highly educated, with over half having at least some college experience. If you love trivia, here are two facts for you. The last four presidents of the United States are Baby Boomers, with Barack Obama being born in 1961 and here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump all being born in the same year: 1946!
Was the Baby Boom just in the United States?
When most consider their strategy for marketing to Baby Boomers, they think about U.S. consumers, but this generational phenomena is broader than one might expect. With the world economy so interdependent and with the advent of the game-changing importance of the Worldwide Web and e-commerce, it is crucial that any business looks at their potential market with a broader vision. The e-commerce market is not just state-wide or country-wide. The customer base for any business with a website is potentially anyone in the world. Therefore, when considering targeted marketing, it is also important to know that the Baby Boom was not just in the United States! Every country involved in World War II had a surge of population after the war, starting around 1946. The Baby Boomer Generation, while known by other names, is truly a worldwide phenomenon. For example, in the United Kingdom, the surge of babies being born after World War II is known as “The Bulge”. In Japan, the surge in babies being born after the War is known as “Dankai no sedai” which means The Generation of Nodule.
So, we know that there was a huge surge of population after World War II. We also know now that this increase in births was a phenomenon that occurred throughout the world in the decades after World War II. There are a few other things we need to know about the Baby Boomer Generation to understand how to market to them.
Baby Boomers and Technology
The last of the Boomers graduated high school in the early 80’s. This was a time way before many of the technological advances that are commonplace today, but would have seemed impossible even a few decades ago. These innovations include the World Wide Web, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snap Chat. Technology including I-Phones, streaming video and even websites. How did we even make it back then without all of this? Even though this technology was not available, this does not mean that the Boomers are not tech-savvy. As a matter of fact, the Baby Boomers are online in record numbers. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are up on all of the latest apps and social media platforms, but they are online. Google conducted a study in 2013 and found that 78% of Baby Boomers were regularly online. A third of the Boomers described themselves as “heavy internet users”, and actually spend more online that the generation after them, the Millennial Generation, or Gen Y. 80% of boomers are on at least one social media platform.
Three things to consider when marketing to Baby Boomers
We know a lot about the Baby Boomer Generation. We know that there are many of them, they are online a lot, but may not have the latest trendy social media platform. We know that their roots are deep, going back over 70 years, so there are some different values that we need to be sensitive to, in order to win them over as customers. There are three marketing considerations we will be discussing: Using Facebook, taking time to build trust and relationships with the Boomers and using print articles.
First of all, when it comes to social media platforms, Facebook is king with the Baby Boomers. The vast majority of Boomers are on at least one social media platform. As a matter of fact, the average Boomer is on 4.6 media platforms, but the most popular is Facebook. A recent 2016 study by the Colorado University study indicated that Facebook is more than twice as popular as LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter and nine times more popular than Instagram with the Boomer crowd. Facebook is so popular with the Baby Boomer demographic that over 15% of Baby Boomers have reported spending 11 hours or more a week on Facebook. Several additional studies have shown that Facebook is the Boomers platform of choice. Facebook is so popular that 15 percent or more boomers are on it at least 11 hours every week. Also, Boomers are more likely to share content on Facebook than any other generation. And they are not just sitting at home on their computer. Over 60% of Boomers have Smartphones, and when they have free time, 40% of them would choose reading as their preferred way to spend their leisure time, and 21% would choose being on their computers. This does not sound like an old crowd, although they do have what some would call old-fashioned habits and values.
This brings us to the second strategy for marketing to Baby Boomers. It’s really less of a strategy and more of a reminder. Keep Baby Boomer values in the forefront of your mind when designing a marketing strategy. Boomers are loyal. They will be your customer, they will stay with you, but first you have to earn their loyalty by building trust and keeping promises. Get them engaged, have patience and answer all questions. Have customer service ready and available to help. Return calls and emails in a timely fashion. Follow through on promises. For example, if you promise a weekly newsletter or blog post, don’t skip a week and think they won’t notice. One big way to build trust is to be consistent and follow through on promises. A boomer may think that if you can’t follow through on a weekly newsletter, how can you follow through on your claims of excellent customer service and reliability?
All of this may take some time. It will be worth it in the end. It takes time to build rapport and trust with a customer. Generations after the Boomers, such as the Millennial Generation and Gen X, tend to be more impulsive and will surf the net for the best price, and purchase more quickly. Baby Boomers will need to take some time, do some research and a lot of thinking before making the final decision to purchase. Consider having social media posts that allow the Boomers to give their opinion about your product or service, and make sure you respond to them and their concerns. This way they will feel more personally connected to your company, and don’t feel disconnected and the transaction doesn’t seem so impersonal. Don’t be frustrated by this. Expect it and be prepared to spend the time.
Lastly, remember, with the Baby Boomers, good old-fashioned print articles still matter. According to research, Baby Boomers are significantly more likely to engage with text articles than other generations. When marketing to baby boomers you should still consider direct mail marketing campaigns. They work, especially if they are creative, thoughtful, and keep the values of this generation in mind. Since the Boomers are online in record numbers, and still love print articles, is there a way you can be creative and perhaps market using online brochures? Boomers need to feel a sense of connection, rapport and relationship. One of the great things about print articles it that they can tell a story, and make a more personal connection. Since building trust is still important, perhaps you could try marketing to Baby Boomers using YouTube videos be used to showcase positive customer testimonials about your product or service?
In conclusion, it is easy to see that the Baby Boomers are a force to be reckoned with. Their numbers are vast, their values clear and strong, and many are living a very active lifestyle. When marketing to Baby Boomers, it helps to understand their strong values and what drives them. For example, they did not grow up with much of the technology that is in use today, but they do not shy away from it either. They use technology as a means to an end. Knowing that helps to understand their love of Facebook because of the power to connect to friends and family. They are thoughtful, cautious, loyal and will be great customers once they are convinced that their opinions and concerns are heard and addressed.