There are nearly 100,000 monthly searches on Google for “baby boomers” or “boomers” and endless statistics about every aspect of their behavior. The “80 million demographic in the U.S. alone with $3 trillion in disposable income” is a recurring quote.
Articles and blogs regularly cover boomers’ feelings of neglect and dismissiveness by companies, advertisers and brands. The numbers prove it: only 10% of marketing dollars and 5% of advertising dollars are aimed at them.
As marketers, we’re missing out on a vital, underserved market that has the time, interest and money to really make an impact on a company’s bottom-line. The two most important strategies for marketing to people over 50: don’t refer to them as old and don’t lump a whole generation into a single market segment.
According to Bloomberg’s Matthew Boyle, “Baby boomers have reinvented each stage of life they’ve entered, from young adulthood to careers to parenting. And whether they’re working or retired, wealthy or on a fixed income, living alone or with other seniors, they aim to redefine what it means to be old.”
Once we truly understand the complexities and myths about people over 50, we can begin to develop a differentiated value proposition and achieve success.
AARP’s Top Ten Baby Boomer Myths (June, 2015)
#1 Myth: Boomers Are All the Same
Typically, boomers go through major life events involving their career, family, finance and health. Many also worry about money, health and medical issues. Others are excited about having more freedom, new experiences and encore careers.
Marketing Goal: Incorporate changes in attitudes, goals and spending to be more stage-of-life focused. Offer solutions to these problems and not just product features.
#2 Myth: “Me” Generation
Many care for children and parents so their focus has changed to helping others, giving back and making the world a better place.
Marketing Goal: Companies and brands need to be more philanthropic as this consumer group is very community-driven. Brands need to build relationships and gain trust.
#3 Myth: Technologically Challenged
Boomers are the fastest growing technology sector. They’re probably not using Snapchat, but 70% have Facebook accounts, 31% are on Twitter, 43% use YouTube, 66% buy from online retailers and 89% have a cellphone (SocialTime, 2014).
Marketing Goal: Design a holistic strategy that incorporates SEO, social media, mobile marketing, regular engagement, strong benefit claims and powerful images and photos of boomers.
#4 Myth: Winding Down
Boomers are finding ways to be active. In 2014, 60 million took at least one trip, 22 million attended sporting events, 32,000 boomers made up nearly a fourth of the 2014 USA Triathlon.
Marketing Goal: Focus on health and a live-forever spirit. Nearly half are searching for new self-care methods to prolong health and vitality. Two-thirds of boomers say the best years of their lives are still ahead of them.
#5 Myth: Wealthy
As a group, boomers are the wealthiest generation in history, but only 9% are truly affluent and 25% have no savings or investments.
Marketing Goal: “Give back.”: Create programs to hire older people as part of corporate responsibility and community outreach. Boomers have skills, experience, a strong work ethic and need money. It’s a win-win proposition.
#6 Myth: Brand Loyalty
When boomers like a brand, they stick with it. Inherently skeptical and ad-averse, they are more open to trying new products that provide facts, data and testimonials.
Marketing Goal: Focus on authenticity and storytelling that demonstrates you understand the audience you’re targeting. Figure out which medium to use and combine social media, superior customer service, email and direct marketing.
#7 Myth: Captured with Mainstream Advertising
Some 66% say that ads have gotten cruder in recent years and another 67% say they are less likely to purchase a product if they find the advertising offensive. Many see less product differentiation.
Marketing Goal: Greater focus on altruistic vs. materialistic goals. Craft messaging that “speaks” their language and incorporate facial expressions and non-verbal cues. After all, boomers didn’t grow up with technology.
#8 Myth: Married, Empty Nesters
One in four boomers fit the profile of married with adult children who have left home. 37% still have children under 18 in the home. 33% of boomers are single — they are the largest online dating demographic.
Marketing Goal: Generally, logic works better with men, while emotional messaging is best for women. Moms have significant buying power for the home and spend hours on their mobile phones and laptops making online purchases.
#9 Myth: Boomers are Downsizing their Homes
Actually, 76% plan to live in either a same-sized (their current home or a new home of the same size) or larger home and 7% plan to downsize. In fact, boomers want to pay off mortgages, modernize their homes and renovate to ward off retirement communities.
Marketing Goal: Make age-friendly home improvement sources and products easier to find. Boomers rely on experts more than family and friends.
#10 Myth: Retiring Early
Of the boomers turning 62 this year eligible to take Social Security benefits early, only 11% are planning to stop working. More than 72% plan to work part-time or full-time.
Marketing Goal: Segment your audience, be authentic, gain trust, empower people to gain strong brand advocates.