As eCommerce grows, so too does digital marketing and advertising. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that digital ad spending is anticipated to surpass traditional ad spending in the United States this year.
In the digital age, marketers have scrambled to establish brand preference with and gain the loyalty of the most digitally inclined generations – Millennials and Gen Zers. Per a study by Hitachi Consulting, 74% of retailers have angled their services towards younger consumers who still have a lifetime of purchases to make. But, with the average life expectancy in the U.S. trending towards 80 years, it would be shortsighted to alienate older consumers.
Baby boomers are roughly 75 million strong and control most of the country’s disposable income (estimated at 70% in 2015).
You might be thinking, “sure, that’s significant – but does digital marketing really appeal to older generations?”
It’s easy to associate tech savviness with youth. Millennials (for the most part) and Gen Zers have grown up in a world that’s adapted to the Internet – and they’re connected across various platforms like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches.
Conversely (for perspective), boomers experienced the first black-and-white and color televisions. Can you imagine telling a young Gen Zer that the screens they’ve grown so accustomed to didn’t always exist?
But baby boomers aren’t as digitally inept as you’d think.
According to eMarketer, the majority of boomers (59%) make at least one digital (e.g. via computer, phone, or tablet) purchase each year. Although far less than Millennials (84.8%) and Gen X (77.5%), this still demonstrates digital marketing efforts can engage older consumers.
Considering the sheer size of this cohort and its buying power, retailers should continue to market to baby boomers via traditional and digital channels. That being said, it’s important to recognize how baby boomers are shopping online.
Baby boomers aren’t as mobile-friendly as Millennials and Gen Zers. Per an eMarketer survey, only 46% of participants between the ages of 55 and 65 used a mobile retail app to research potential purchases – and only 39% actually made a purchase on a mobile retail app.
The marketing shift to increase mobile efforts is understandable as smartphones and apps have reshaped our day-to-day lives. Especially considering people spend over three hours a day on their phone. However, studies have shown that the vast majority of baby boomers’ screen time is spent on the computer. Further, according to GfK’s 2018 FutureBuy report, almost 80% of boomers had shopped on a computer in the previous six months, but only 33% said they’d done so via their phone.
Older consumers prefer to browse, research, and consume content elsewhere. Blogs and online articles are a valuable source of information for baby boomers. From a social media standpoint, most baby boomers’ activity can be found on Facebook. According to a DMN3 study, over 80% of baby boomers are on Facebook. Further, over 50% of boomers will continue browsing products – whether on a company website or via search engine – after encountering an ad, testimonial, or review on social media.
Another key difference between older and younger generations is time spent browsing/researching purchases. Millennials are known for impulse purchases – but baby boomers are far less likely to make such swift decisions. Marketing that relies on impulse tactics is less suitable. Older individuals are more calculated and patient with respect to shopping around and assessing options – and they prefer to do it on the computer.
So, if older demographics are within your target customer base – make sure you’re keeping their preferences in mind. We can help you create a digital + print marketing strategy to engage with your audience. Reach out to us to learn more.