Baby boomers. There are many different variables which marketers must consider when targeting the audience. One of those is by generation. In today’s post, we examine the baby boomer generation and what brands need to know when marketing to them.
For the past decade or so, digital marketers have worked themselves into a lather trying to figure out what millennials want (the general consensus is that it’s avocados), but far less time has been spent trying to figure out how to connect with older audiences, namely baby boomers born between 1946-1964.
That could be because conventional digital marketing wisdom says that baby boomers simply aren’t online. But that’s no longer true. According to Google, the U.S. boomer population, which consists of about 80 million people, now spends more time online than they do watching television. But targeting boomers with the same influencer posts and gifs that resonate with millennials probably isn’t going to work on their parents and grandparents.
The stereotype of boomer parents and grandparents asking millennials to come over and show them how Siri works doesn’t really apply to Boomers in reality. According to a study by DMN3, 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores and shopping malls.
However, what many marketers don’t understand about reaching Boomers online is that older customers aren’t necessarily using the platforms in the same ways as their children and grandchildren, so taking boomer’s online preferences into consideration is key—they are the “me” generation, after all!
In the broader conversation about marketing, we tend to talk about the research stage, or the top of the funnel, as if it were a one-size-fits-all proposition. However, studies show that there’s definitely a generation gap when it comes to what consumers are looking for as they research and compare prices.
A recent study by BRP consulting called “Consumer Shopping Habits—The Generation Gap,” breaks consumers into two groups: digital consumers, generally around 18-37 years old, and traditional consumers, who are over 38. Both types of consumers are researching products online before they purchase: 97% of digital consumers and 90% of traditional consumers research online.
However, the groups vary in what they’re researching. Digital consumers are more interested in product reviews, while 64% of traditional consumers are comparing products by price. So making sure that boomers have immediate access to price points and access to special offers should be the top priority in appealing to older audiences at the top of the purchase funnel.
It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to reach your boomer audiences on Snapchat or Instagram. But that’s not to say that older audiences don’t love social media.
In fact, 82% of baby boomers who use the internet regularly have at least one social media account. About 75% of all U.S. baby boomers are on Facebook, and 35% use business-focused networking sites, such as LinkedIn. And while millennials with their noses buried in social media may be a boomer punchline, they’re spending their fair share of time on social as well, about one hour and forty-eight minutes per day, on average.
If you’re looking to connect with Boomer audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn, your best bet is to create easily sharable video content. Baby boomers are actually 19% more likely to share content on social media than any other demographic, and 54% of boomers watch video online, with 43% naming Facebook as their preferred video platform.
So what kind of videos should you be making? Creating informative videos that move at a slower pace than the high-intensity, gif-like videos that resonate with millennials is your best bet to get boomers both viewing and sharing. And you might want to take it easy the internet slang since boomers only understand about 37% of it.
And once you get boomer audiences viewing and sharing video online, making sure your digital marketing strategy connects to your in-store experience is incredibly important. Boomers expect great customer service that provides quick access to the products they’re looking for, both in-store and online.
Traditional customers are much more likely to want in-store experiences that relate to product availability and accessibility than digital consumers. According to the BPR study, 63% of traditional consumers say it’s important for in-store associates to be able to order out-of-stock products for them, and 60% say that they’d like the ability to search in-store inventory availability.
Remember, boomers are tech-savvy and looking to use their online interactions with brands to make their lives easier. So whether you’re starting a conversation with a Facebook video, inviting boomers in-store with product offers, or helping them find available inventory, a seamless, straightforward brand experience that focuses on products and price will help win over the crowd that remembers the original Woodstock.
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