How to Market to Baby Boomers: 3 Tips

How to Market to Baby Boomers: 3 Tips image BabyBoomerBaby Boomer shoppingAdults born between 1946 and 1964 are frequently overlooked when it comes to digital marketing strategies. But, as I discussed in my last article on Baby Boomers, this generation is not one to be ignored. And contrary to popular belief, older adults are incredibly active on social networks and more tech savvy than most of us youngins realize. In this article, learn how to craft a digital marketing campaign aimed at the over-50 crowd.

Older Adults Are Tech Savvy

A lot of us have an image of older adults being pretty lost when it comes to technology. Whether it’s a grandparent who needs help setting up a Facebook account, an older teacher who’s baffled by the projector, or any other baby boomer who can’t find their contacts in their smartphone, the younger crowd – marketers included – seem to think of our elders as Luddites stuck in the Stone Age of newspapers and transistor radios.

On the contrary, though, baby boomers are actually quite tech savvy. This Forbes article points out that while baby boomers aren’t always the first adopters of new technology, it’s more out of a sense of being thoughtful about purchases than about being unwilling to engage with hot-off-the-shelf devices. In fact, much of the technology we’re using today was invented by baby boomers – people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, for example.

More than that, though, baby boomers are interacting and making purchases online at a rate that definitely outstrips most marketers’ conception of what they’re doing. Nielsen’s study of baby boomers in 2012, for example, found that baby boomers make up a third of all internet users, and that a third of those baby boomers describe themselves as “heavy internet users.”

Want some more statistics? Consider these numbers from Immersion Active:

  • 66% of people over 50 in the United States routinely make purchases from online retailers.
  • Nearly three quarters of adults born between 1946 and 1964 have broadband internet at home.
  • While dipping out of the baby boomer demographic slightly, nearly 35% of tablet owners in the United States are over the age of 45.
  • Most baby boomers reported that they do most of their pre-purchase research online, especially for large investments like vehicle and appliance purchases.
  • Over 27 million social networking users in the U.S. are over the age of 55, with almost 19 million of them active on Facebook specifically.

Clearly, baby boomers are reachable through digital and social marketing campaigns. But what’s the best way to develop your campaign with this demographic in mind?

Marketing to Baby Boomers Online

As this article at Huffington Post cautions, baby boomers were really the first generation in the United States to be constantly inundated with ads from all angles, so you want to be careful with how you go about designing your campaign. Chucking more ads at seniors is, according to the article, an unlikely way to gain any loyal customers. But, by focusing on customer service and quality content, it’s definitely possible to create an online campaign that will capture the attention of the baby boomer demographic. Here’s how:

  1. Focus on providing contact with business associates through social media. Older generations are more used to having one-on-one interaction with the people they’re making purchases from, so take advantage of the desire for great customer service by featuring a live chat on your website or encouraging customers to get in touch with you on Facebook with questions and concerns.
  2. While many baby boomers are using sites like Facebook, fewer are using the sites targeted more towards twenty-somethings, like Instagram. For that reason, it’s wise to link up your social media tools and ensure that everything can be found in one place.
  3. Another HuffPo article offers a look at a what-not-to-do, critiquing Taco Bell’s recent Super Bowl spot for depicting older adults in a pretty mocking light instead. The author recommends featuring older adults who are knowledgeable and successful. While you won’t get as many laughs with this type of ad, you might get more respect from the customers you’re trying to reach.

Marketing to baby boomers presents a different set of challenges than marketing to Millennials, but it’s worth figuring out a strategy that works now, since the baby boomer population is only growing.

Is your business marketing to baby boomers online? What strategies have resulted in the biggest ROI for you and your marketing team?

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