There are more 77 million baby boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — in the United States right now. By the end of 2015, Americans 50 and older will represent 45 percent of the population — and will control approximately 70 percent (some say more) of the wealth.
And while the buying and online habits of millennials seems to dominate the news, their buying power pales in comparison to the buying power wielded by baby boomers — some $3 trillion in just the United States alone.
But just like millennials, baby boomers are not so easily wooed. Moreover, these 50-, 60-, and 70-something consumers, unlike their children and grandchildren, are less likely to be using smartphones and apps, such as SnapChat and Instagram, which are all the rage with marketers right now. (While an estimated 79 percent of baby boomers regularly use the Internet, less than half use smartphones to check email or go online. Though a majority shop online and engage in social media, from a computer.)
So how can marketers reach this golden demographic? Here are nine suggestions from marketers and ecommerce experts who specialize in the baby boomer generation on how to reach and sell to baby boomers online.
1. Understand that not all boomers are alike — and target those most likely to purchase your product or service. "As with marketing to any large group, be careful to not cast a net that is too wide," cautions Linda Pophal, owner, Strategic Communications, a marketing and communications firm. "The baby boomer generation is quite large and the members of this generation vary significantly." So rather than targeting all boomers, figure out which segment is most likely to purchase, or be interested in, your product or service.
Then "identify which communication channels will most effectively reach them," and craft messaging that will appeal specifically to them. "Don't make assumptions," she warns. "For instance, it is often assumed that baby boomers are not active users of social media. But that's not necessarily true." While older boomers (70+) are less likely to be on social media sites, or shop online, younger boomers do use sites like Facebook and shop online regularly.
2. Show you care and understand them — be relatable. "Strive to be honest and upfront and factual about your product offerings," advises Sandra Powers, Internet marketing manager, LawyerReviews.com, an attorney referral site. "We frequently display pictures of baby boomers in our newsletters and other marketing materials. Baby boomers better identify with your products if the marketing materials include pictures of people that look like them."
Similarly, "have a rich About Us page [on your website] that shows [boomers] who they are buying from — and include pictures of your staff [if appropriate]," suggests Danielle Kunkle, vice president, Boomer Benefits, which markets Medicare supplement insurance to baby boomers. Boomers "value businesses that care about their community," she adds. So "show them your philanthropy." For example, "our company funds a scholarship for baby boomers who return to school as an adult." By sharing that information online, "our potential clients can see that we give back to the same generation of clients who have made us successful," and feel good about interacting with them.
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