Ignore Baby Boomers If You Want to Lose Out On Their Purchasing Power

If you’re like the majority of marketers and merchants out there, the bulk of your marketing efforts are targeted towards 18 to 40 year olds.

Failing to focus at least some of your attention on baby boomers means you would miss out on a demographic profile that,  according to a Nielsen report, has the following characteristics. They:

  • Dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories
  • Watch the most video: 9:34 hours per day
  • Comprise 1/3 of all TV viewers, online users, social media users, and Twitter users
  • Time shift TV more than 18-24s (2:32 vs. 1:32)
  • Are significantly more likely to own a DVD player
  • More likely to have broadband Internet access at home

The baby boomers demographic are those folks that were born between the years 1946-1964,  and are 46 to 64 years old this year.

From observing behavior at retailers and bookstores, I’ve noticed that many of the buyers for IDG’s “For Dummies” books and magazines like PC World and PC Magazine fit within this profile. They want information, but may not be motivated to shortlist 20 web results and scan through each to find the information they need. They have disposable income, they want results, and they’re willing to put their wallets where their mouths are.

While baby boomers have something in common with 20-something and 30-something bleeding edge tech consumers, it’s a mistake to assume they’re identical. For one, the boomer’s disposable income means they have more leeway to experiment and try out stuff, unless it’s excessively expensive or fails to deliver to any of its’ promises.

I’ve met a couple of baby boomers in the course of my consulting and was  not surprised to find a collection of smartphones on their desks. “Why do you need so many?” I asked.

“I bought the Blackberry but didn’t like it. Then I bought the iPhone and didn’t like it either, so I’ve been buying them till I found one I liked.”

And it’s not always having the best or flashiest product that gets the sale either. Sometimes it’s having a cell phone with larger keys and the capacity to display large fonts on the screen that gets the sale, over say, the ability to play DivX video or having the ability to connect to next generation 4G telco data networks.

Successfully Catering to Baby Boomers

Being able to cater to baby boomers is not just a matter of product design; it has to do with understanding the behavior of this demographic.

Take the example of seeing Facebook reminders from deceased friends as reported by The New York Times. While Facebook has been focused on its core teen to 20-something market and is gradually making inroads into the 30 to 40 year old profiles, being able to adapt its’ technology and appeal to the boomer generation, perhaps  by accessing national obituary records while being sensitive to users, could go a long way to creating site stickiness with them..

Tailoring information so that it is interesting, relevant, and attractive to the boomer, as well as easily navigated, could produce big pays out in long-term site loyalty and consumer interest.

Besides site design and site intelligence, webmasters and social networks should consider  creating baby boomer-specific communities or special interest groups within a sub-section within the website. It would be short sighted to not customize these sites in an attempt to appeal to a branch of the consumer base willing to spend the money needed to attain the specific item, be it DVD players or smartphones, which best suits their individual needs.

Not doing this could be the equivalent of throwing that demographic, and their purchasing power, away.

About Andrew Wee

You can find Andrew Wee on Twitter @andrewwee

5 Responses to Ignore Baby Boomers If You Want to Lose Out On Their Purchasing Power

  1. George says:

    I am one of those baby boomers. Never thought I would be a computer nerd, but here I am right in the middle of it all. Even have a website or two and a blog.

    May write some content on this article with proper acknowledgment.

    Good read.

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  3. Alissa says:

    Great article. Glad to see someone's paying attention to us! At 62 I feel I have a long way to go and would like to take advantage of all that the new technology has to offer. Of course, I'm not a quick as my grandson, but still need to feel like I'm with it. The cell phone's been a real problem for me. The small numbers specially. But, I might have just found the right one. TracFone just came our with the Senior Value Cell phone which is a basic phone with the features I need at the right price ($7 a month). This provider is paying attention as well. The phone features oversized lighted keys and large text and screen, 911 emergency location assist and, to top it off, it's hearing aid compatible! So, I'm definitely going for it. On the other hand, my daughter gave me a kindle for mother's day and it went right back to the store. I just couldn't imagine reading a book without touching it! IPad might be next – seems simple enough, but at my age, I'll take it a step at a time. For now, just the cell phone will do. Again, thanks for paying attention to us golden-years boomers.

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