- Does your BoomBox have all the marketing tools you need?
- Which generation controls the residential real estate market – millennials or baby boomers?
- Tell the truth. Who’s hipper? Your grandma or your mother?
As a consumer segment for brands and their agencies to target, baby boomers might seem like an irrelevant bunch to spend any time and money on. After all, the perception is that they’re old, they’re boring, and they come across as “know-it-alls.” However, this group, which was born between 1945 and 1964, is a massive opportunity for pitching a wide range of goods and services. Even more importantly, they’re hiding in plain sight.
What This Means for You — Boomers were the original generational cohort that marketers fawned over. Why? Their numbers were/are massive. They’re now grandparents and a funny thing happened on the way to the retirement community: their clout increased. This group is still large and (more importantly) they have money to spend. The trick is to find the right message, images, and media to motivate them.
Current Boomers are not your average grey-haired cohort. Please tell us you are not still portraying them as yesterday’s cardigan-wearing, early bird dinner special, bed by 7 pm senior community. Let us do you a favor. Click this link for a look at today’s Boomers.
What Makes Boomers Special?
Let’s start with the numbers. The worldwide population of baby boomers continues to astound demographers.
According to this data source, “Europe has one of the highest proportions of older people in the world with 20.9% of its population being over 65 years of age. Seven out of ten countries with the highest old age dependency ratios globally in 2021 were in Europe. They were Finland, Italy, Germany, Portugal, France, Greece, and Bulgaria, while five other countries, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, are projected to be on the list in 2050. One of the major contributing factors to this demographic aging in Europe is the drop in fertility below 2.1 children per woman, which is the natural replacement level. The other major contributing factor is increased longevity” (due to better healthcare).
According to the US Census Bureau, US boomers will remain the second-largest population group in 2023, with 69.6 million people ages 58 to 76. The same factors causing this older population dominance in Europe are at work in the United States.
The demographics of this group alone are enough to start brands salivating, but the psychographics of boomers are stunning in their implications for marketers. According to MediaPost, “Boomers have the greatest wealth, drive the most actual spending, and aren’t as hidebound as marketers think.
“Boomers are starting life anew, post-empty nest or retirement. UK-based Mintel notes one in four boomers post-pandemic is prioritizing new purchases, 17% are prioritizing learning new skills, and 15% prioritize keeping up with technology. Boomer divorce rates are skyrocketing (more than one in three Americans divorcing in 2020 were 55+, according to the Census Bureau), and those boomers who previously deferred to a spouse when making product choices are seeing brands anew.
“Marketers often cite the lower lifetime value of boomers, but on average, the youngest boomer women can expect to have 26 years of shopping ahead. Their generation’s estimated spending power of $70 trillion far exceeds the $33 trillion that the Federal Reserve projects in Gen Z disposable income by 2030.”
For a quick snapshot of the economic clout of boomers, one only needs to check the latest numbers on home ownership. According to Fortune, “Baby boomers continue to dominate the housing market in terms of the total value of homes owned. Indeed, the total stands at $18 trillion, compared to just about $5 trillion for millennials, as of the first quarter of 2023.”
Just ask any young family – Gen X, Y or Z – trying to buy their first home, this question. Who wins in a bidding war for the home. Boomers win because they have 50+ years of building real estate equity and cash.
A Marketing Toolbox for Boomers – AKA The BoomBox
In the current era of microtargeting and programmatic media, homing in on boomers with a compelling message, images and video is not only possible but more efficient than it has ever been. There are several tactics to consider.
Keep it real. Every generational group has highly tuned BS detectors and the boomers have had many more years to calibrate theirs. That means the creative must be authentic and avoid the marketing landmine of being tone deaf. This is where the creative consultants at SuperStock can help brands and their agencies. No boomer in their right mind wants to be portrayed as some doddering old timer who’s always pictured in some cliche’. Boomers are active and hipper than the media presents them. They’re not ALWAYS in some water aerobics class, taking photos of flowers, or antiquing. Get the images right and the pitch will be much more compelling.
Direct mail works. Of all the generations, boomers still open a mail piece or email. Someone who might be retired has more time to consider direct marketing offers than someone who is trying to work all day, take care of kids and have a semblance of life such as the younger consumers. Ronald Kurtz of “American Affluence Research Center,” notes, “Another effective way to reach affluent boomers is through highly targeted mailing lists, as this group welcomes informative direct mail. Criteria such as level of wealth, age, special interests, marital status, health attributes, geographic location, etc. can be used to define a profile of the target audience for direct mail. AARP can help you do this.” AARP is an interest group in the US that focuses on those older than 50 and it has more than 38 million members. Its bulletins and magazines for members are the largest-circulation publications in the US.
Think digital. Mintel notes that 43% of boomers say they are more comfortable with tech than culture gives them credit for. Business Insider notes, “A 2021 study found 90% of boomers shopped online (vs. 89% in store), ahead of Gen Z by nearly 20%. Boomers’ digital spend skyrocketed by 49% in 2020 alone, and close to eight in 10 said their confidence in trying new tech increased since the pandemic. Plus, a “Google/Known” study found 86% of boomers who are online reported spending at least six hours a day there — and own, on average, five digital devices.
It’s game on! Boomers dig gaming. Who knew? According to MediaPost, “Targeted advertising on ad-supported mobile games should be top-of-mind for marketers aiming to reach boomers, as the percentage of gamers aged 55-64 grew by 32% in the past two years. As of 2022, Data.ai found Gen X/boomers account for 25% of the top grossing games in the U.S. — making them gaming’s fastest growing cohort. Boomers especially like mobile gaming: 39% play mobile games, and as of 2022, they comprise 23% of all mobile gamers, according to ironSource — a larger percentage than either Gen Z or Millennials.”
Video is booming. “The largest increase of online video consumption in the last five years has been among boomers,” according to this source. “They rely heavily on YouTube and social media videos in their research phase, with higher-than-average ad views and click-through rates (and less interest in ad blockers, with 38% using them versus 55% of adults under age 35, according to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer).
Don’t forget social. As with almost every other person on the planet, boomers spend hours and hours on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and especially TikTok. There is a growing trend of boomer TikTokers such as @grandma_droniak with her 5 million TikTok followers, and @brunchwithbabs with 2.5 million followers.
Time & Money
Those old-timers that brands and ad agencies often ignore have the two of the most important attributes in consumer marketing – time and money. Because of superior healthcare, better nutrition and active lifestyles, the huge generational cohort of baby boomers represents a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for brands in every category except baby food!
In addition to living longer, perception of older people has also changed. Just consider this anecdote presented by People Magazine. “The main characters in the first season of ‘Golden Girls’ (NBC 1985 – 1992) are younger than in the current ‘Sex and The City – Just Like That.’ Amazing how different our view of women at that age is now!” This should not be lost on any brand marketers.
Successfully targeting and then motivating this dynamic group requires a more nuanced strategy than was used in the past. However, the potential returns can be spectacular.
What’s your baby boomer strategy? Be careful not to fall into the cliche’ trap. Contemporary boomers probably look different than you think and SuperStock has the images that reflect this active lifestyle. Hit us up and get your boombox blasting!