Marketing to Boomers: Five Misconceptions

Photo Credit: Mashable

When the new iPad was released, the first person to call text me was my aunt.  She had her eye on it since the initial announcement and could not wait to get her hands on it.  Her knowledge of the bells and whistles wholeheartedly helped influence my purchase.  Marketers continue to think that my millennial peers and I are the most in-the-know – but they should think again.

Forbes recently wrote about the Financial Communications Society’s summit discussion, “Baby Boomer…or Bust: How to Market to and Influence the 50+ Consumer.”  Panelists tapped into five key misconceptions marketers make in reaching and influencing boomers:

  1. They aren’t tech-savvy.  According to Ad Age, both boomers and millennials have developed similar habits for technology, with 91 percent of boomers to 94 percent of millennials using email, 78 percent to 85 percent researching health information and 74 percent to 83 percent relying on technology to find news.  I can promise you that my dad will be reading this post on his Blackberry.
  2. Older people aren’t cool.  I have two words for you…Meryl Streep.  (Precisely.)
  3. They don’t spend.  Over a three-month period in 2010, Boomers spent on average $650 online versus Generation X at $581 (Source: Mashable).  Even more impressive is that women in this age group are responsible for 80 percent of dollars spent on consumer products and services (Source: The Lipstick Economy).
  4. They see their “golden years” as a time of relaxation.  It comes as no surprise, whether from your personal relationships to the overall increase in life expectancy, that 80 percent of people age 50 and older plan to work past their 60s.
  5. They are loyal to brands.  Choice across all categories continues to grow.  Boomers have seen change throughout their lives and adapt to it well.  As marketers, we assume a boomer is a consumer for life, whereas we need to continue to win them over as we would with millennial consumers.

One out of three adults in the U.S. is a boomer.  With that much purchasing power and influence, why do so many marketers continue to follow dated norms when the group they are trying to reach continues to change and flourish?