Don’t Write off the Baby Boomers Just Yet

Are you among the many who cherish fond memories of their gray-haired granny sitting in a rocking chair and crocheting sweaters for you and your siblings? Today’s grannies are of a very different ilk. Baby Boomer grandmas — typically defined as people born between 1946 and 1964 — are far more likely to be spending their “waning” years climbing mountains, bungee jumping or power walking.

Retailers who dismiss aging shoppers as irrelevant or assume that these buyers will stick only to certain brands are seriously miscalculating.  The U.S. has about 76 million Boomers (constituting over 30% of the population) and the 50+ age group is the fastest growing online demographic. So don’t bury the Baby Boomers just yet.

Nevertheless, in order to successfully sell to boomers, merchants must first make the effort to understand this generation’s psyche and resulting shopping habits.

Who is the Average Baby Boomer?

Many Boomers were raised by World War II veterans who were offered generous VA loans at very low interest rates upon their return from battle. Many of these veterans, whose parents had undergone severe deprivation and financial insecurity during the Great Depression, were determined to ensure that their offspring would never experience a similar fate. Despite the fact that the Boomers were taught to be careful and conservative when it came to spending money, they wanted to realize the American Dream and, for the most part, succeeded.

Who Are You Calling Old?

In keeping with their rebellious spirit, Boomers have always been trailblazers. Deborah Weinswig, executive director-head of global retail and research at FBIC, stated: “Just as they have at every other stage of their lives, Boomers are now redefining what it means to be old. On the whole, they are healthier, richer and more active than previous generations of older Americans. Younger Boomers (ages 55 to 64) earn and spend more than the average U.S. consumer.”

Merchants who appeal to Boomers’ aspirations to look and feel young are bound to hit a retail jackpot. Focusing on products for grandchildren may also be a profitable option. But whatever you are selling, beware of sounding condescending. As a generation that is seriously pressed for time due to demanding careers and no less demanding children and grandchildren, they value clear and concise messaging as well as speedy delivery.

Baby Boomers’ Shopping Habits

Boomers are the first generation to grow up with television, so many of them may still be motivated to buy a product after seeing a good TV commercial. One-on-one meetings and telephones served as successful business tools in the course of their careers, so they respond well to these sales channels as well.  But they still read printed brochures and flyers, and have a particular fondness for both digital and print coupons, as well as sales and bargains.

Anyone who believes that Boomers are technologically challenged could not be more mistaken. According to a Pew Research Center Survey, cell phones are by far the most popular device among American adults, with 85% penetration. Furthermore, 88% of mature consumers use email.

According to Bloomberg66% of U.S. adults over the age of 50 regularly shop from online retailers and 27 million people over the age of 55 use social networking to share their opinions with their peers. They are still a highly influential demographic, regardless of age!

Preferred Payment Methods

According to a Gallup poll, Boomers have more credit cards than any other American generation, with an average of 2.66 cards per person. Therefore, online retailers would be wise to ensure that the credit card payment process on their website is seamless and quick.

Boomers have never been intimidated when it comes to embracing new technologies, starting with the very first PC. As such, we can expect that they will adopt other innovations like electronic wallets and NFC as their popularity increases. Research released by Connexity indicates that 51.5% of Boomers are keen to use Apple Pay. They regularly use their mobile devices to shop in virtual stores and research products. In fact, many Boomers welcome the idea of using their smartphones as credit cards, on the condition that they are protected by security measures such as remote deactivation.

From Elvis to iPhone

10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. They are a fascinating mixture of people who still love the golden oldies of yesteryear, but also like to buy the newest electronic gadgets on the market.

As census figures indicate that a majority of Boomers will live into their eighties or even nineties, retailers who address them wisely have the opportunity to acquire many loyal customers for years to come.

Oren Levy is the CEO of Zooz.

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