July 31, 2017

Busting 5 Myths We’ve all Heard about Baby Boomers

With so much attention on leveraging digital marketing to reach millennials, many marketers have discredited how powerful inbound marketing can be to older generations like baby boomers. Every generation has stereotypes. Millennials are entitled, Generation X’ers are the slackers, and baby boomers are selfish. Right? Wrong!

The generalizations made about the baby boomer generation, like most stereotypes, are exaggerated and simply not true. However, many marketing strategies disregard the truth about baby boomers and can neglect great opportunities to reach them on different platforms. As a group that controls 70% of disposable income, they cannot be ignored.

Baby boomers are considered anyone born between the years 1946 and 1964. The term “baby boomers” was incepted after the drastic spike in population post World War II when many American soldiers were reunited with their families and loved ones. Approximately 76.4 million Americans fall into this age group, making them almost a quarter of the population.

Here, we bust five myths about the baby boomer generation that will encourage every marketer to reconsider how you target this group on and offline.

Myth 1: Baby Boomers are Technologically Challenged

Ok, so we’ve all heard this one before. In the studio, we love joking about the times technology has failed older generations only to find out it wasn’t plugged in. But as much as we love telling stories of our parents having trouble downloading an app or explaining what “Facebook Live” means, we understand that this generation uses technology more than we think.

Studies have found baby boomers use technology just as much as millennials. Let that sink in a bit. We’ll repeat it – Baby boomers use technology just as much as millennials, they are just using it differently. While millennials have a hard time looking away from their Instagram accounts, older age groups have a different technology obsession: email.

One survey found that over 50% of adults said they check their email on the weekend, after work, and even while they are on vacation! Baby boomers also have the most disposable income compared to generation X and millennials. Therefore, their ability to purchase high-tech products is much higher than any younger generation. According to Pew, baby boomers with income over $75,000, have 72% smartphone adoption in the U.S.

So, don’t assume this group is confined to flip phones and direct mail. If your target audience includes baby boomers that meet a certain level of income, email marketing, and display ads could be a great use of your budget.

Myth 2: Boomers Are Not On Social Media

Baby boomers grew up in a time before the internet even existed. (Can you imagine? We don’t want to). Unlike Millennials and Generation Y, referring to Facebook and Twitter for news and articles was not how they grew up consuming information. But, don’t assume they haven’t adapted to the times.

According to a report by Google, baby boomers spend more time online than they do watching TV! The report also claims that over half of boomers and seniors watch videos on YouTube.

Although YouTube has become a popular source of information for this audience, Facebook is by far the most adopted platform by Baby boomers, and we don’t predict that changing for some time.

“Social networking sites are used by the majority of boomers/seniors daily with more than half following a group or organization on a social platform.” – Google

So, what does this tell us? By discrediting boomers’ adoption of technology and social platforms, you’re missing a large opportunity to reach a segment that might be interested in your content or products. It’s also important to reach them where they prefer to be reached. Facebook is a great platform for boomers, whereas dollars spent on Twitter may not be as valuable.

Myth 3: Baby Boomers Don’t Shop Online

Now that we’ve already busted the myths that baby boomers aren’t tech-savvy or use social media, it’s easy to see how crazy it is to assume that this age group doesn’t shop online.

According to the 2016 State of the User Experience, almost half of people aged 52 to 70 spend at least 11 hours a week online. Google and Ipsos reported that 57% of the information this group is searching for is related to shopping. Closely followed by the third most searched for information, coupons/discounts, and deals! As a generation known for working hard and saving responsibly, discounts and coupons are a sure way to attract and engage.

But it doesn’t stop there. One in four people aged 55+ shop on mobile devices. We can refer back to our previous myth bust that baby boomers don’t use technology. As older aged people adopt smartphones, they are also learning to shop online with their mobile devices! This may change the way you target your ads and content. Further, for companies with the majority of their customers falling into this category, responsive design is no longer an option.

Baby boomers do in-fact shop online, and when they aren’t purchasing, they’re doing their research by reading articles and reviews, and watching videos, sometimes even from their mobile devices. Need we say more?

Myth 4: You Should Treat All Boomers the Same

A common mistake of marketers is to consider boomers as one group that has the same general preferences. However, think about how many years this generation spans – almost 20! That means there are baby boomers that are going through a variety of lifestyle milestones. Some are putting children through college, while others are retiring and downscaling.

As marketers, it’s important to further segment this group to target the ones that will be most interested in your products or services. Treating them all the same way can be a waste of time, energy, and funding.

When developing content, campaigns, strategies, consider the differences between a 50-year-old and a 65-year-old. They won’t have the same needs, they will have different preferences and they will search for different things. Do your research and be thoughtful in your marketing strategy.

Myth 5: Boomers Don’t Care About Giving Back to the Community

Baby boomers are notoriously known as the “me” generation, with a reputation for not giving back to the community and not taking environmental effects into consideration. However, studies have found that this generation is involved and/or interested in a variety of US societal causes. A Merill Lynch report claims that over the next 20 years, retirees will donate money and time worth $8 trillion!

For non-profit organizations, don’t assume this group won’t care about the things that drive your purpose. As a group with most of the disposable income in America, they may be more willing to contribute to the causes they care about.

The Best Ways to Reach Baby Boomers

In order to effectively reach the largest percentage of your customer base, you can’t discredit certain groups because of generalizations and stereotypes. Many companies can improve their targeting strategies for the baby boomer generation by understanding WHERE they are online. To summarize our findings, here are a few things we’ll leave you with about the baby boomers population:

At PHOS, we’re passionate about leveraging online platforms to reach the right people for our clients. We develop a unique strategy for each of our clients depending on the buying patterns and preferences of their target audiences.

By sifting through the myths, and finding the truth, we help our clients market to the right people on the right platforms.

Alexis Fillmer

With a strategic mind and a love for culture and leadership, Alexis spends each day working to get the most out of every idea and person on our team. As our Director of Operations, she’s responsible for creating organizational clarity, ensuring excellence in our services, and creating a culture in which our team members can flourish.

Outside of PHOS, you can find Alexis playing with her son at the park, starting a new house project (and maybe finishing it), at the nearest farmer’s market, trying a new recipe, or scoping out live music with her husband.