Born between the mid-1940s and the early 1960s, Baby Boomers were initially slow to adopt shopping online, relying on traditional methods for everything from buying groceries to making business-to-business purchasing decisions.
However, today, and especially since COVID, this trend has changed considerably. And an overwhelming number of Baby Boomers are now shopping online. Couple this with the fact that Baby Boomers hold 70% of the disposable income in the US and spend $3.2 trillion annually, and you would be crazy not to take notice.
An Adoption Driven by Unpredictability
In 2020, brands across every industry faced an extraordinary amount of unpredictability. The methods for making purchasing decisions that had been tried and true for years came to a sudden halt with consumers stuck at home.
In both the B2B and B2C markets, customers were pushed online at an incredible rate, driving projected adoption numbers five to 10 years ahead of schedule.
With consumers forced into new buying patterns, the pandemic created a seismic shift in the landscape of commerce. Within this shift, a new opportunity emerged; brands could now reach consumers that were previously not part of their customer base.
In fact, during the hyper-digital adoption of 2020, many consumer-facing companies saw an uptick in new customer acquisition, and a lot of this growth centered on the uptick in digital sales.
According to Adobe’s 2021 Digital Trends Report, nearly half of consumer-facing companies reported a sudden increase of customers that were previously unknown to them. Additionally, almost two-thirds of these brands experienced substantial mobile growth as well.
And if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that customers will continue to dictate their digital relationship with brands. Those who weren’t swayed by previous digital adoption tactics took to their mobile devices and computers to shop because their life now necessitated it, and brands responded in turn.
Simultaneously… consumers adapted their purchasing journey to meet their pandemic needs, with 56% reporting that they now use different paths to research and purchase products. An interesting byproduct of this digital surge is that, while Millennials previously led the way in the adoption and use of technology, outpacing their Baby Boomer counterparts significantly, a slow shift occurred around 2012. Since then, Baby Boomer’s show the most significant growth in the use of Facebook vs. other generations, and the pandemic simply accelerated this growth.
For example, in 2020, those over 65 upped their online shopping by 53% year over year.
This has a huge implication for any brand, as Baby Boomers represent an incredible wealth of spending power. According to the Economist, households led by the Boomer generation spend $64k a year, nearly double the spending of those born after 1997.
Interestingly, at the same time, only 3% of ads in the US target those over 50 years of age. Here lies an incredible opportunity for brands ready to focus on Boomers as a digital commerce growth target.
Laying the Foundation for Reaching Baby Boomers Online
To reach Baby Boomers in the digital landscape, your brand should begin understanding how this generation interacts online. While there is overlap in some behaviors with their younger counterparts, Boomers tend to display unique attributes in their online shopping habits.
Boomers Shift to Digital Shopping
Today, over 60% of Boomers have experience making purchases online. Not only that, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 47% of Boomer consumers have reported additionally increasing their digital spending.
The question no longer is whether or not you can reach Boomers online; it is now a question of how you go about marketing to this generation and what they are looking for when they turn to the internet to make a purchasing decision.
One of the keys to understanding how to market products to Boomers online is to understand their intent when they search for goods online.
To start, Boomers put weighted value on being well informed—preferring to be substantially knowledgeable before opening up their wallets. They’re not as influenced by the fast-paced marketing tactics of Millennials, and instead, are more concerned about product information, visuals, and reviews.
To market to the Boomer demographic, some questions to answer could include the following:
- How meaningful is your content to this audience?
- Can they interact with your product intuitively, finding important details about your products without difficulty?
- Does your marketing explain your product thoughtfully, thoroughly, and affirms the benefits?
This pre-purchase stage is incredibly important.
Baby Boomers & Social Media
Baby Boomers are incredibly active on social media platforms, with nearly 80% of this demographic actively using Facebook and nearly 70% using YouTube.
Not only are Boomers active consumers of social media content, but they are also heavily influenced by what they see on these platforms. They are a prime target for social media marketing, where they often go to find more information about potential products or services they wish to buy.
Shopping for Others
When Boomers shop online, they are often not just shopping for themselves. As this demographic has stepped into the role of grandparents, those over age 65 spend nearly double on items for their grandchildren.
Savvy brands will lean into this, creating marketing directly tied into the emotional connection between a grandparent and their grandchild. Here, building trust with Boomers is once again central to any eCommerce strategy.
Boomers Prefer Bigger Screens
Since 2000, the number of US Boomers with vision impairment and blindness has increased by 20% and is projected to increase by 64% by 2032.
Therefore, to reach Boomers online, your brand must include careful consideration around sight accessibility. Most Boomers will access your website on a larger screen than their younger counterparts, and they will often need to zoom in on text in order to read it. This makes it imperative that you design your experience with accessibility top of mind.
Valuing Privacy and Security
77% of Baby Boomers are concerned about their personal financial information’s safety when shopping online or using social media. This makes it critical to foster confidence and trust with this consumer base.
Make sure to explain clearly how you will protect and use their data. Always ask for permission to use the information they share and emphasize what your business does to keep their information secure.
Offer Perks and Premium Promotions
Boomers, unlike younger generations, have excess wealth to spend. Creating perks and premium promotions is a great way to reach this audience.
With 95% of Boomers using email, featuring promotions and discounts through targeted email marketing is an effective tactic.
Consider adding premium shipping options, referral perks, and exclusive memberships. Building loyalty with Boomers is a must. This demographic, once loyal, is willing to return to your brand, showing far deeper brand loyalty than younger generations.
Make Package Tracking Easy
Package tracking has become an expected norm in the world of eCommerce, and this holds true with Boomers. In fact, 95% of Boomers have indicated that they want to be able to track their online orders.
Be sure that you make it simple for Boomers to track shipments with real-time updates. Consider implementing SMS messaging to deliver package updates directly to Boomers’ phones.
Mimic In-Store Returns of Old
One of the biggest hurdles that eCommerce experiences have had to overcome is the lack of tactility in online shopping. Boomers grew up with the ability to try on clothes, test out furniture, and handle products in person before making a purchase.
Today, asking this same generation to commit to a purchase without an in-person experience must include a guarantee of sorts.
You can do this by creating the right return policy and building out positive experiences around returns.
For omnichannel brands, allowing in-store returns is another way to upsell products, delivering a hybrid shopping experience.
Regardless of how you handle returns, make sure to take a customer-centric approach, ensuring that the process is easy and helps contribute to further brand loyalty.
Keep Open Lines of Communication
One of the best ways to build brand loyalty with Baby Boomers is to ensure open lines of communication throughout the buying process.
This should include clear channels of communication around all of the following:
- Customer Service: Boomers are not hesitant to make their concerns known. Be sure to create an easy path for Boomers to reach out to a service representative with questions or concerns.
- Promotions: Make sure that when you offer a promotion, you clearly communicate the deal throughout the purchase process.
- Reviews: Boomers want to know what others are saying about your products and services. Leverage positive reviews and communicate a clear path for leaving reviews on products purchased.
In conclusion, like anything else, doing your due diligence—creating a well-thought-out commerce strategy and designing a customer-focused user experience is an effective way of increasing your brand’s reach into this demographic. With COVID forcing more Boomers online, new habits have been formed that are here to stay. From purchasing groceries to picking out new toys for their grandkids, Boomers are becoming a powerful online spending force.
If your brand wishes to improve your strategy around reaching this generation, talk to our team at Vaimo. We can help you assess where you stand today and assist you in improving your initiatives to reach Boomers online.