Information on how to market to Millennials can be found everywhere, but what about Baby Boomers? The Baby Boomer generation – people born between 1946 and 1964 – had been the focus of major sales strategies for decades, but as technology advanced, that focus has shifted to Millennials and Gen Y. However, as social media matures, the focus is shifting back to Baby Boomers, a group with a sizable disposable income.
Whether you are a fashion brand that currently sells to Baby Boomers or one that is looking to incorporate this demographic into your marketing mix, Baby Boomers is a group that deserves your attention. Currently, there are approximately 77 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. That is nearly a quarter of the total U.S. population. What’s more, Baby Boomers have an annual disposable income of $2.4 trillion!
By 2050, it is estimated that the Baby Boomers population will more than double to 161 millionvpeople. Right now, less than 5% of all advertising dollars are spent on Baby Boomers, a large, growing, wealthy and winnable demographic.
Here, we have compiled four tips that help demystify the Baby Boomer generation so you can better market your brand to them:
Know That Baby Boomers are Tech Savvy
First and foremost, throw out the assumption that Baby Boomers are not comfortable with the internet, online shopping or mobile apps. In fact, Slate’s Laura Bradley says:
Baby Boomers were the original “me” generation. The word CrackBerry, which predates iPhones and Instagram, emerged because older generations—many parents to millennials—were happily tapping away first. The difference is that now the phones’ capabilities have extended to include social media, so everyone spends more time on them — and a lot of their activity isn’t work-related. The thing is, it’s not just millennials who do it. Everyone does.
Bradley’s states are further supported by Bloomberg’s Ben Stein:
While they weren’t necessarily the earliest adopters of the Internet, the first users to have mobile connectivity, or the first ones to sign up for social networking, baby boomer’s growth rate in adoption and use of information and communications technology is higher than — and in some cases surpassing — that of younger generations.
Stein’s claim is reflected in the fact that over one third of all tablet owners in the U.S. are over the age of 45. What’s more, approximately 66% of U.S. adults over the age of 50 regularly purchase from online retailers. In terms of social media, 27 million people over the age of 55 use social networking. Facebook is by far the most popular social network, with 19 million Baby Boomers using it.
Developing a holistic marketing plan which focuses on digital and traditional tactics is imperative when marketing to the Baby Boomer generation. You must decide on which mediums to use and how to use them. Social media, exceptional in-store customer service and email marketing should be front and center in your digital strategy.
It is also important to utilize more traditional marketing tactics. Print is not dead, so direct mail and catalogues are also important when marketing to this group.
Barbour serves as a great example. This brand likes to engage with and honor its diverse range of consumers. Through campaigns like #BarbourPeople hosted on Instagram, the brand shares the limelight with its stylish and tech-savvy consumers. It also balances its customer centric strategy on Facebook. Here, you can see one of its customers from the Baby Boomer generation. Vineyard Vines and Chico’s serve as great examples of brands that use traditional marketing tactics via catalogues and direct mail.
Target Without Alienating Other Consumer Groups
Now more than ever, it is important for marketers to segment their audiences and craft campaigns based on the emotional responses and lifestyle choices of their intended audience. When targeting your Baby Boomer customers, be relatable and personable while catering to their wants and needs.
Eileen Fisher is a great example of a brand that has mastered targeting consumers who live a certain lifestyle. The brand tailors its messaging, showcasing a mix of models, employees and customers who range from their twenties on up. In the example featured here, Eileen Fisher is targeting females over the age of 45.
Recognize That Transparency and Trust are Everything
Part of winning over Baby Boomers is earning their trust through genuineness and transparency. From product information messaging to customer service, Baby Boomers demand it from brands. This group will ask questions, so brands must be prepared to answer them, as well.
In basic advertising form, transparency and trust can also be conveyed through your overall brand image. For example, the New Year’s greeting photo of designer Ralph Lauren taken from his brand’s website seen here adds a welcoming touch of authenticity to the label. In this case, seeing the man behind the brand adds a genuine touch that works well for Ralph Lauren and the wide range of consumers the brand serves – which includes Baby Boomers.
Your brand’s messaging should then translate to both the online and in-person services that older, more established customers receive from you. Remember that 95% of transactions happen in-store. How are your associates building trust among their key clientele? What technological tools have you provided to help customers that are not a size 2 or 4 and are two or three decades older than Millennials? Knowledge, education and expertise are what will keep Baby Boomers shopping your brand.
Don’t Market to Baby Boomers as If They’re Old
Despite the undeniable fact that we are all aging, none of us want to feel old, and Baby Boomers are no exception. Bloomberg’s Matthew Boyle says:
Baby boomers, 8,000 of whom turn 65 each day in America, 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.
If brands can help make Baby Boomers feel the way they want to feel, they will win. Use images in your marketing campaigns that Baby Boomers can identify with. From Helen Mirren to Julianne Moore, many of the most fashionable women are over the age of 50. Check out the Marks & Spencer 2014 campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz. Every woman in this campaign is intelligent, accomplished and confident, regardless of her age.
Market to Empower
Overall, empowerment is going to take you far in your Baby Boomers marketing efforts. As we said in our article on consumer behavior, giving people the ability to accomplish things and gain knowledge in ways that are not restrictive will turn them into your happiest customers and most loyal brand advocates.