Back when millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) were teenagers, their baby boomer parents (born between 1946 and 1964) would have barely understood the younger generation’s fascination with instant messaging platform MSN and the internet. Today, those same parents have more friends on Facebook and more Amazon deliveries arriving in a week than all their children put together.
Who are baby boomers?
Boomers account for approximately one third of the UK population, making them a powerful demographic with major marketing potential. They are active and engaged; they start businesses, run marathons, follow fashion trends and travel widely.
Furthermore, their aspiration to live new experiences with convenience is reflected in the market; more start-ups are shifting focus from millennials to aging baby boomers by targeting them with innovative and user-friendly technologies like voice recognition. An example of a startup tapping into this age group is Stitch. With more than 50,000 members in 50 cities worldwide, Stitch connects boomers so they can socialize, travel, make friends and find companions.
Even though baby boomers are living longer, and becoming healthier and wealthier, they are still ignored by many brands on social media. These brands are putting too much emphasis on appealing to millennials and not enough when it comes to the older generation. According to Total Retail Report, in the US a mere 10% of marketing budgets is allocated to the boomer audience, while 50% goes on marketing to millennials.
Data shows that boomers are active on social media, spending around one hour 48 minutes a day browsing Facebook and Instagram. They are 19% more likely to share content than any other generation, and 58% more likely than millennials to click through to a brand’s website from a social media post.
So why are brands failing to turn their attention to this demographic? Here are three reasons that might make you rethink the positioning of boomers in your social media strategy.
1. Boomers have big wallets
Baby boomers account for over 20% of the entire UK population (over 14 million people) and make up one of the wealthiest generations, with one in five classed as millionaires. According to a report published in The Financial Times, it’s estimated that of every £1 of household wealth in the UK, boomers own 36 pence.
Money is no object, especially when it comes to new experiences. According to AARP, boomers invest in travelling in comfort and are unable to resist luxury services such as upgraded tours and activity packages. In the US and the UK, 13% of boomer vacation planners have already booked a vacation for 2021. They are the ideal audience for brands, combining spending power with a thirst for new life experiences. Targeting them on a channel such as Facebook that showcases the best of life’s moments is an obvious move for brands looking to widen their customer base.
2. Boomers are shopping online
According to Oracle CPG purchase data report, baby boomers led the way in online shopping growth in 2020, with usage up 5.7x year-on-year, compared to millennials’ usage (up 4.3x on last year). Besides shopping online as much as millennials, they have more disposable income available, making their average spend much higher. They are more likely to spend on higher-ticket items like wine, appliances, home goods and healthcare. Targeting them on social media will bring about a significant return if done correctly.
3. Boomers are digital influencers
Brands that offer high-quality products or services will win the hearts of baby boomers and will turn them into brand advocates. There’s already a whole host of baby boomers smashing stereotypes on Instagram, showing people they can be who they want and dress as they like at any age.
Instagram has seen a growing number of older women carving out space for themselves as fashion influencers. Lyn Slater, a college professor in New York, has 750k followers on her Accidental Icon Instagram account. Thanks to her social media influence, she’s worked on advertising campaigns and collaborations with brands such as Valentino, Uniqlo and Mango. Other great examples of boomer Insta-stars are the Japanese retirees Tsuyoshi and Tomi Seki, who launched their own range of clothes and accessories in collaboration with a designer at the Japanese department store Isetan Mitsuk.
Targeting baby boomers
We’ve established that brands have access to an extensive audience on social media with significant spending power, ready to open their wallets and show off their lifestyle. So, how should brands target them on social media?
Baby boomers believe their glory days are still ahead of them. Therefore, marketers must tap into these desires to effectively sell their services and products.
L’Oréal Paris, for example, understood its mature affluent customer by making the present stage of their lives the most thrilling one. Through their marketing campaigns, including social media content, they go against the idea that beauty has an expiration date and empower women of all ages to feel and be the best versions of themselves. This fosters a society in which everyone enjoys growing older.
Besides a strong and tailored content strategy, here are a few points to take into consideration when targeting boomers on social media:
Do not stereotype: avoid any clichés or obsolete perceptions about what this generation should be doing or how they should be acting. Baby boomers don’t want to be depicted as older than they are. Focus on inclusive messaging and imagery.
Bridge the gap: while they have embraced technology, do the most to make them feel more at ease – for example, making content easily sharable.
Showcase product practicality: boomers prefer products that fit a functional need rather than fulfilling an emotional one. They are a self-confident generation and they are keen to make up their minds about brands.
Use videos: 54% of boomers watch video online, with 43% naming Facebook as their preferred video platform.
Use influencers: consumers are excited to see representation in their age group. There are several influencers who have built massive audiences creating content specifically for the underrepresented over-50s demographic.
Boomers are the largest economic force of the demographics and are committed users of social media; they have large wallets, shop online and are digital influencers. Brands should look to discard any age preconceptions and start to view this demographic as a huge marketing opportunity that could bring about significant return.
Although they may have shorter lifetime potential value, they have a thirst for life experiences that millennials don’t rival. Brands must seize the opportunity to boost boomer-powered brand development and marketing campaigns and bring this affluent generation into the conversation.
If you are looking to implement an integrated and agile social media marketing function, get in touch with Capgemini Invent.
Ana Costa is a digital marketing consultant specialized in social media at Capgemini Invent.