74 million. That’s how many baby boomers are currently living in the United States, according to Pew Research Center.
Although they are closely trailed by millennials, baby boomers make up the majority of spending in the U.S. economy. That spending power influences business growth, job creation, and other factors that ultimately lead the U.S. economy to flourish.
In the ecommerce arena, baby boomers can unfortunately be treated as a secondary audience. However, more boomers research, shop and purchase online than ever before. Ultimately, these changing purchasing behaviors create ecommerce inbound marketing opportunities to showcase products and services that cater to their needs.
As devices, behaviors and purchasing patterns continue to evolve, modern marketers must adapt their strategies to keep up. In this guide, we will explain who baby boomers are and provide actionable solutions to help you engage and delight them through every stage of the purchasing journey.
Before businesses can market to a specific demographic, they must first understand their characteristics and motivations. This practice often manifests itself through buyer personas.
Buyer personas outline the demographics and psychographics behind a semi-fictional customer. When it comes to boomer-centric personas, it’s important to remember that age is not the only factor that defines this generation.
Baby boomers have experienced significant political, social and economic change during their lifetimes. As the most populous generation during their birth period, Boomers have driven significant economic growth.
With new opportunities for advancement and marketing potential, let’s dive into what actually makes a baby boomer.
Following World War II, the United States experienced a population increase — or a “boom.” This new generation, often known as the “baby boomers” or “boomers,” refers to those born between 1946 and 1964.
Births in the United States during boomer years totaled nearly 79 million. This footprint far surpasses its preceding “Silent” generation with 47 million and its following “Gen X” with 55 million.
Although this number is projected to decline to 72 million and millenials have overtaken boomers as the most-populous generation in the United States, baby boomers still boast significant population numbers and enough accompanying purchasing power to impact the U.S. economy.
As more boomers stay in the workforce longer, their economic impact continues to influence the economic activity. Boomers make up the only population group experiencing growth in the workforce. This means that the “Golden Years” will in many cases be spent working. This change in lifestyle will ultimately translate to more disposable income and purchasing power.
Now that we’ve established a baseline understanding of who baby boomers are, we’re excited to share proven ways to market to them more effectively. This list lays the foundation for successful, lasting relationships. Furthermore, it will help your messages clearly resonate with this important demographic.
As a general rule, don’t use slang. Generation-specific language alienates users and often makes the businesses using it appear insincere. This concept rings especially true with baby boomers.
Using slang can also create miscommunication and result in lack of clarity. This is a worst-case scenario for brands that spend time and money to reach their audiences.
So how do you write for boomers?
Ecommerce copywriting is a diverse and exciting facet of the marketing landscape. When creating content specifically for baby boomers, keep your language clear and concise. Use bullet points, focus on value-based message and remain focused on your users’ underlying motivations.
Although tone will vary by company, brands targeting baby boomers should use simple messaging that is easy to understand.
As digital platforms evolve, so do their users’ habits. Let’s consider Facebook as an example.
Baby boomers use Facebook far more than any other social media platform. Many in this demographic use the platform to keep in touch with friends, family and loved ones and to stay informed. As a result, marketers have significant potential to meet boomers where they socialize.
With organic Facebook reach hovering somewhere between two and four percent, many brands struggle to gain impressions and engagement on the platform. As a result, Facebook advertisements have become a mainstay to reach new and existing customers.
If you’re launching a Facebook ad campaign, you can use segments and advanced targeting to identify boomer prospects. For example, factors including age, gender, geographic location, device and interests help narrow who sees your ad. Using this approach, brands can ensure their messages reach the right users with the right messages.
Baby boomers react positively to information that proves your product is worth their money. As a result, showcasing clear benefits can help this demographic through the decision-making process.
When it comes to ecommerce product copywriting specifically, we recommend using clear headings and bullet points to convey key selling points. This style of formatting makes content easier to understand and helps users digest information quickly.
When writing for boomers, focus on how your product or service will provide a benefit based on their overall financial investment. With significant purchasing potential, this generation appreciates understanding the benefits that spending their money will provide.
Generally, baby boomers prefer slower video formats that explain concepts in detail. This type of media format helps them clearly understand the messages and information your brand presents.
As video continues to dominate Facebook content, we recommend a few best practices to help your videos resonate with boomers.
85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Although captions are not required, we strongly recommend every brand include captions in their videos to accommodate this behavior. Additionally, successful social videos include striking visuals, large typography and short, written sentences to help viewers follow along.
Experiment with different video formats to find what works best with your audience. Whether you use a slideshow with text, a “talking head” interview or an animation, unique formats will resonate differently with every audience.
Keep things short. Although boomers are more likely to watch longer video content, shorter videos can provide value in specific use cases. Condensed videos that focus on one concept at a time resonate with nearly every audience and help users quickly digest information.
Tip: If your brand targets baby boomers on Facebook, you should be creating ecommerce video content. Video experiences the highest engagement and visibility on the platform and will ultimately position your message for consumers to easily digest.
Let’s put a stereotype to rest: younger generations are not the only group obsessed with their phones. Recent data shows that baby boomers aren’t so different from millennials when it comes to mobile phone use.
Forbes reports that Boomers use their phones approximately five hours per day. This is strikingly similar to Millennials, who use their phones five and a half (or more) hours per day. So what does this mean for marketers?
Overall, brands cannot discount the boomer generation’s mobile behaviors. This demographic browses Facebook, email, news apps and the internet on their phones. As a result, businesses should consider how each of these channels plays a role in an overall marketing strategy.
Tip: although approaches will vary by company, a combination of social media and display advertisements can help brands reach the boomer demographic on both mobile and desktop devices. If you’re looking for more suggestions, we recommend this related blog about mobile ecommerce trends.
Every successful marketing campaign begins when brands understand their target audiences. As ecommerce marketers, we recommend developing buyer personas to truly understand the demographics and psychographics that define their typical users.
Although generational indicators like “baby boomer” are helpful to provide general context for a target audience, we caution you to not consider this generation as an entire buying group for your product.
Within this group, there are countless variants and groups that will apply to specific products or services. Every business should develop a comprehensive profile of what their ideal buyer looks like. Take the time to understand what makes your customers unique. When you do, you’ll be able to create messages and content that relates to them on a personal level and encourages them to convert.
This one is fairly straightforward. “Old” and “elderly” are often viewed as derogatory words in American culture. Many baby boomers are in their mid-sixties, still going out for fun and living full lives. This demographic doesn’t view aging as a constraint on their ability to pursue things that make them happy. As marketers, our job is to empower these users to achieve their goals. We can achieve this by showcasing the benefits that products or services provide.
Remember that aging generations often think of themselves as being younger than they actually are. For this reason, we often recommend showcasing visuals with models approximately 10 years younger than the target demographic.
Above all else, respect, enthusiasm and clear communication will help brands resonate with this target market. Most importantly, remember the golden rule. It never gets old and will always apply in marketing – especially to the boomer segment.
Digital accessibility refers to how easily an asset can be viewed, used and understood by a variety of different audiences. This practice has become a core tenant of user experience design and is especially important for aging populations.
Many baby boomers wear glasses and having difficulty viewing small text. As a result, we’ve outlined a few guidelines for website design that can help increase accessibility.
Although the ADA does not have a mandated font size for websites, general guidelines recommend not using fonts smaller than 16 pt to ensure clear readability. Additionally, consider how mobile breakpoints will influence your user experience. Although users are able to adjust font size directly on their devices, brands targeting the boomer population should take proactive steps to ensure users can easily read website content.
Visual contrast is a key component of readability. For this reason, we strongly recommend that websites use very dark typography on light backgrounds, and vice versa. Although brands can incorporate low-contrast design elements throughout their sites, it’s particularly important for users to read copy-heavy areas with ease.
Using proper button sizes, especially for mobile devices, helps with overall website accessibility. However, this concept is especially relevant for aging populations. As we mention in this related blog about ecommerce checkout best practices, buttons on your website should be at least 44 pixels high to accommodate finger sizes on mobile devices.
As we previously mentioned, baby boomers often prefer longer-form content to help them justify their purchasing decisions. Brands should provide clear instructions and documentation to proactively address these needs.
Every generation appreciates transparency. Marketers should be up-front with policies and provide links to more information to minimize friction during the research process. This level of openness and helpfulness will often lead to improved user satisfaction and increased likelihood of purchase.
Although live chat is a popular support tool for Gen X and millennials, many baby boomers prefer the option to interact with a real person. This key differentiator between generations presents an opportunity for retailers to reach and exceed customer expectations.
Overall, providing a variety of ways to contact your company can often reduce friction for consumers and are great trust indicators To improve your website experience, make your phone number and email address visually prominent. Additionally, consider making these elements links that can easily work on mobile devices to help users call with one click.
The name of the game in customer service and support is trying to turn customer uncertainty into brand loyalty. Although a large portion of that responsibility ultimately falls on service representatives, marketers still have an opportunity to make the process easy and reliable.
Although each generation presents unique opportunities and challenges, it’s important to remember that your ultimate customer is a person, not a concept. As you go through the process of creating a plan to market to baby boomers, we hope these tips have created a framework for you to understand what this group appreciates and ways to reach them.
Need a helping hand? Feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to lend a helping hand.
Ethan Giffin is the Founder and CEO of Groove Commerce, a full-service eCommerce agency. Ethan is an industry expert in eCommerce, inbound marketing and the dynamic technologies that power client success. An entrepreneur at heart, Ethan started his first business at 10-years-old and has grown to become a 3x Inc. 5000 honoree and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.