4 Myths About Marketing to Baby Boomers Debunked

By the end of 2015, Americans 50 and older will represent 45% of the population and control approximately 70% of the wealth. But only 10% of marketing and 5% of advertising dollars are aimed at this sector. As marketers, we are missing out on a vital, untapped marketing that has the time, interest, and money to really make an impact on a company’s bottom line. But there are common myths that still persist about these elusive baby boomer creatures, which keep marketers away. We’ve identified the top four most common myths, debunked them for you, and provided you with tips to successfully market to baby boomers.

Myth #1: Boomers are all the same.

Just because they’re all in the same age range and have mostly gone through the same milestones, doesn’t mean they all have the same wants and needs. While many baby boomers worry about money & health, others are excited about their newfound freedom, encore careers, and having grandchildren.

Marketing Tip: Understand that not all boomers are alike. Target those most likely to purchase your product or service and identify which communication channels will most effectively reach them.

Myth #2: Boomers are technologically challenged.

Truth is, boomers are the fastest growing technology sector! 89% of baby boomers have cell phone, 70% of boomers are on Facebook, 66% buy from online retailers, and 31% are on Twitter. We may make a lot of jokes about helping our parents or grandparents with new technological crazes like SnapChat and Instagram , but baby boomers are a lot more adept with technology and social media than we give them credit for. This gives marketers many digital channels to connect with boomers.

Marketing Tip: Create holistic strategies with SEO, social media, mobile, engagement, and powerful images of baby boomers. Make your online sales process easier and more secure. Make it easy for boomers to find what they need on your site and purchase it with just a few clicks, while letting them know that their credit card and personal information is safe and secure.

Not sure if marketing to baby boomers are social media is smart? Read our blog all about why you should be marketing to boomers on social media!

Myth #3: Boomers are brand loyal.

It is true that baby boomers stick with what is tried and true, which is what most of us do once we find a product or service proven to produce results. But boomers are willing to jump ship if something better comes along, but convincing them to make the leap is harder than younger generations. New product adoption typically only comes with hard facts, data, testimonials, and referrals. They have questions about new products and services that they want answered directly. If a product or service catches their eye, they are willing to do thorough research before the purchase but they are also willing to spend their money in new places.

Marketing Tip: Skip the hard sell. Boomers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold, they like to do their research before making an informed decision. They also want to ask questions and get answers, so make it clear you are available to answer any questions they have. Lastly, build a referral program. Boomers are much more likely to come from a referral. Do a great job for your customers and ask them to spread the word through their personal networks. Make it easy to share your product or service via email and through social media. You can also consider rewarding customers for referrals.

Myth #4: Boomers are captured with mainstream advertising.

Data actually shows that 66% of baby boomers believe that ads have gotten cruder in recent years. Another 67% report being less likely to purchase a product if the advertising is perceived as offensive. Using the same marketing gimmicks or strategies for boomers as you do millennials just won’t cut it.

Marketing Tip: Boomers are smart, know what they want, and are willing to pay for it. Focus on the benefits of your product or services, not just the features or specs. Focus your messaging on how what you’re offering solves a problem. Tell the story of how your product or service makes life easier, better or more enjoyable.

Is it a Good Idea to Market to Baby Boomers on Social Media?

Are you unsure if spending your limited marketing dollars targeting baby boomers on social media is a smart choice? Baby boomers are a huge target that marketers are constantly trying to reach. With conflicting information about how widely and often they use social media platforms, it can be difficult to decide whether you should waste your resources on such a group. We say not only SHOULD you target baby boomers on social media, you NEED to. Here are our four main reasons why marketing to people aged 50-65 on social media is a worthy investment.

1. Baby Boomers Have The Money

Teens and young adults are still planning for their futures while baby boomers are already wealthy. According to Nielsen, by 2020, close to 50% of the U.S. adult population will be 50 and older and they will control 70% of the country’s disposable income. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Boomers and seniors have a net worth 3x greater than that of younger generations, as Boomers’ median household income is 61% greater than pre-Boomers.

Not only do boomers have the money, they spend it. They account for nearly 50% of all retail sales and outspend other generations by an estimated $400 billion each year on consumer goods and services, according to a U.S. Government Consumer Expenditure Survey. As a business owner, you want to go where the money is now, and it’s with the baby boomers.

2. Baby Boomers Aren’t THAT Old!

You need to remember that baby boomers were the first to experience the beginnings of the internet. They did not use stone tablets, in fact, they’re using smart tablets to shop! From a study by eMarketer, 49% of Boomer tablet users and 40% of smartphone users made at least one purchase within the last year after gathering information on their mobile device. Baby boomers are fully utilizing social platforms and mobile technology.

3. Baby Boomers are Active & Available on Social Media

Boomers on social media are growing faster than young Americans. By 2050, it is estimated that the Baby Boomers population will more than double to 161 million people (Nielsen). This makes them prime targets for concentrated marketing. Right now, baby boomers can be mostly found on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, according to a study by DMN3. According to Pew Research, the average user on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter is middle aged.

Ever wonder how different generations consume content? We explain here!

4. Baby Boomers Love to Shop Online

Boomers are prolific online shoppers. According to Nielsen, a third of them shop online and the 50+ segment spends almost $7 billion in ecommerce. It’s not surprising that Forrester Research found that 72% of adults aged 55-to-63 shop online, and Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 each year.

Baby boomers are a prime market to target on social media. They are active on social media, have the most disposable income, and love to shop online. If boomers on social media are not already a part of your marketing plan, you need to pencil them in.

Unsure where to start when marketing to baby boomers? This blog can help.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomers are 80 million strong. Yet despite their significant size and spending power, these high potential consumers have been largely unaddressed by marketers and advertisers since they started to age out of the popular 18-49 cohort. In five years, 50 percent of the U.S. population will be 50+. These consumers spend close to 50 percent of all CPG dollars yet less than 5 percent of advertising is geared towards them. From Nielsen, “Introducing Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation”

What’s the most effective way to woo baby boomers with your marketing? The answer may surprise those who hold on to old marketing stereotypes.  Boomers are tech savvy. They are heavy consumers of television programming, and they spend as much or more time online. A Google/Ipsos study of consumers 45 and over found that the amount of time spent on the Internet and traditional television viewing were comparable. They found that the Internet is the top source for gathering information on topics of interest.

The 3 Most Effective Boomer Marketing Channels

From DMN3,  so which marketing channels are the most effective to reach baby boomers? If we define “effective” by the popularity of each channel, the answer is

  • Television
  • Search
  • Email Marketing

Historical Channels Less Effective for Offline/Online Integrated Campaigns

While print-based direct marketing channels are frequently used to target Boomers, respondents to the DMN3 study spend little time engaging with direct mail and brochures/catalog. These print materials, along with radio, are unlikely to get Boomers to move online to learn more.

The Best Offline Channel for Marketing to Baby Boomers

The DMN3 study found that television was the most significant influence in getting leading edge boomers and trailing edge boomers to search online for information. Television was significantly better for prompting boomers to search online than any other source, including friends and spouse/significant other. Other studies have found that television advertising is the ad channel with the largest purchase influence.

The Best Online Channel for Marketing to Baby Boomers

For online marketing, there is no more effective channel than search engines. When respondents in the DMN3 study were asked about actions taken as a result of doing online activities, the results speak for themselves. Search dramatically outperforms social media and viewing online videos in getting Boomers to take actions, including making a purchase. This can be seen in the following chart.

Using search engines to reach boomers takes a number of forms. The simplest is PPC advertising. Effective search engine marketing also involves Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content (inbound) marketing. There is no substitute for providing content that meets boomers’ need for information in an interesting, relevant and timely way.

Other Channels

There are other important online channels as well. We know that about three quarters of boomers use social media, primarily Facebook. We also know that about 6 in 10 read blogs and articles. They are important as part of any multi-channel integrated marketing campaign.

Everything we read talks about how marketers need to move to mobile. Before you go about putting all your eggs in one basket, understand that baby boomers continue to use computers for most of their Internet activities.

A MillwardBrown Digital study, “Getting Audiences Right: Marketing to the Right Generation on the Right Screen,” found similar results. For tasks that take a longer time investment( e.g. shopping, visiting news sites, watching video clips, seeking health information, etc.), boomers are more likely to use a laptop/PC than younger generations. That’s particularly true when it comes to shopping. Computers are still their choice for buying online.

As you select your digital marketing channels, don’t get swept up in the mobile rage. Make sure you optimize your messaging for laptop and desktop computers along with mobile devices to reach this generation.

No matter which channels you use, you need to understand how diverse boomers are. Segmentation by life stage and other factors is important to effectively get the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Baby Boomers and Social Media

Adults born between 1946 and 1964, known as Baby Boomers represent one-third of all social media users. And, they wield a huge amount of online purchasing power. If social media is not a part of your current advertising and marketing strategy, you’re missing the boat. 

“As the baby boomers like me are retiring and getting ready to retire, they will spend whatever it takes – and they’re the wealthiest generation in our country – to make themselves live an enjoyable life in their retirement years.” –David Rubenstein

 From Anna Bassham, besides the fact that there are 77 million of them (that’s roughly 25% of the U.S. population), Baby Boomers have money and want to spend it. They control 70% of disposable income ($7 trillion) and spend more money per-person than any other age group. In fact, Baby Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis.

By 2050, it is estimated that the Baby Boomers population will more than double to 161 million people. This is a large, growing, wealthy and winnable demographic.

Boomers Demand Excellent Customer Service

Members of this demographic grew up in the age of consumerism. Their sheer size helped define brands, and they’re used to influencing the products and services they use. Brands who are fast to respond to questions, comments, and concerns will win their trust and business.

Boomers Are Tech-Savvy

Throw out the belief that Baby Boomers are not comfortable with social media, online shopping or mobile apps. 27 million people over the age of 55 use social networking. Over one third of all tablet owners in the U.S. are over the age of 45.  Approximately 66% of U.S. adults over the age of 50 regularly buy from online retailers.

Keep Things Easy

Engage Baby Boomers with a social media campaign that requires little effort. They are less likely to take part in complicated contests or crowd-sourced campaigns. They prefer taking polls, rating, ranking and voting items, and providing user feedback.

Don’t wait to factor Baby Boomers into your social media strategy, because their numbers keep on rising. The number of baby boomers on social media has tripled in the past four years.  By 2030, the 65-plus population will double to about 71.5 million, and by 2050 it will grow to 86.7 million people, according to the U.S. Census.  Baby Boomers are using social media and if you aren’t, plain and simply you’re losing out on business.

Redefine Your Marketing Plan

If you’re looking for a new way to view refine your marketing plan consider the following.  The simplest way to redefine a marketing plan is to segment your population into demographics.  The categories define what you are selling (hearing aids, earmolds, assistive listening devices, etc.).  Then simply create marketing/ad campaigns that for each demographic within each category.

Below is a sample plan for selling earmolds

Digital Marketing

  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Website
  • Specialized Directories

Traditional Marketing

  • Brochure – earmold only
  • Pediatricians Offices
  • Music Schools
  • Swim Schools
  • Coupon Concepts
  • Newspaper Ads

Marketing by Demographic

  • Gen Y
    • 1980 – 2000
    • Ages 14 – 34
    • Market
      • Swim Molds
      • Hearing Protection
      • Custom earpieces for electronic devices
      • Musician’s Earmolds
  • Gen X
    • 1965 – 1979
    • Ages 35 – 48
    • Market
      • Swim Molds
      • Hearing Protection
      • Custom earpieces for electronic devices
      • Musician’s Earmolds
  • Baby Boomers
    • 1946 – 1964
    • Ages 49 – 68
    • Market
      • Swim Molds
      • Hearing Protection
      • Custom earpieces for electronic devices
      • Musician’s Earmolds
  • Seniors
    • Age 69+
    • Market
      • Swim Molds
      • Hearing Protection
      • Custom earpieces for electronic devices
      • Musician’s Earmolds

Your marketing and advertising efforts shouldn’t just be created for a specific product but for a specific demographic.  Keep in mind that a 50-year-old woman is not necessarily going to respond to the same advertising that appeals to a 70-year-old woman.  When tracking your ROI, the age of the consumer might want to be something you considering tracking.

Can Everyone Afford Hearing Aids?

Are you under the mistaken impression that everyone can afford hearing aids, they just choose not to buy them?

The following was taken directly from an online blog.

“Well I don’t have good news to report, …30 mins ago or so I found out we’d been declined for the loan for the hearing aids. I am feel sick to my stomach, my head hurts and I can’t keep the tears back. I can feel my blood pressure going up as I type this, I have been so stressed about this whole hearing loss thing. So my journey to getting funding continues.”

There has been a multitude of changes in the hearing healthcare industry over the past 15 years, but none more dramatic than the cost of the products dispensed. Amplification technology is indeed phenomenal – but very expensive. Some patients require a payment plan in order to make their hearing aid purchase affordable.

It’s important for you, as a healthcare professional to understand and routinely present payment options to your patients. Almost all other allied health professions have embraced financing alternatives. Dentists, orthodontists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons and other assorted other healthcare professionals have realized the cost of their products and services has risen dramatically, and payment options are the only way many of their patients can afford their services.

By promoting affordable, low monthly payments, you open the door for many new patients who may not be able to pay ”out of pocket” for amplification.  More importantly, financial shortcomings are embarrassing. If you don’t offer a solution, the patient/consumer may not even address the issue with you.

Many people will likely desire and choose higher quality instruments and products if a financial solution is available to them. Financing may be the key to making your patients comfortable with what you have recommended for them. By offering payment terms to patients, you will see greater acceptance of your hearing healthcare solutions to their hearing problems.

There have been many studies and discussions regarding the emerging ”baby boomers” entering the hearing healthcare market. Here are the facts:

  • 78 million people n America are moving into the segment of midlife-to-older.
  • The active boomer lifestyle may not allow for hearing problems to go un-addressed.
  • Nearly all boomers are still working, and most say they intend to keep doing so past the traditional age of retirement.

Aside from the tremendous growth in the size of this group, these consumers differ substantially in their past experience and in their expectations from your current customer base, in that:

  • Most of the consumers within this emerging demographic will be more familiar with credit than their parents.
  • Most of the consumers will have more income than their parents did.
  • On average, they will have purchased at least 3 computers during their lifetime.
  • Most will have owned a cell phone.
  • Many will want and need patient financing.

Knowing your patient’s financial situation is not part of your professional responsibility. However, offering your patient options for the purchase of hearing instruments is a professional responsibility and allows your patient to make an informed decision regarding the level of care they can afford to purchase

By presenting payment options you maximize your efforts to provide your patient the best amplification for their situation.