Boomers Should Not Be Ignored

By: April Masters, Marketing Communications Manager, Valassis
Published Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

Boomers Should Not Be Ignored

Reading through industry headlines on any given day, it seems reasonable to conclude that millennials receive a lot of attention. While this is certainly an important group to target and engage, they are one of many consumer segments worthy of attention and concerted effort from marketers.

One such group that may not be receiving the attention they deserve is the boomer generation. Did you know that nearly half of boomers believe they are inaccurately stereotyped?1 To ensure that you aren’t overlooking this key consumer group, consider the following points.

Boomers are key drivers of the economy

Born between 1946 and 1964, the boomer generation represents 30 percent of the adult population.2 Though recently surpassed by millennials as the largest generation in America (75.4 million millennials versus 74.9 million boomers3), estimates show that boomers account for half of net U.S. household wealth. It is also projected that they will remain the wealthiest generation in the country until at least 2030, at which time it is expected that boomers will still hold a significant share of national household wealth (44.5 percent).4

Here’s a glimpse into the economic impact made by boomers:

  • For automotive, while millennials’ share of purchases is growing, boomers purchase the greatest percentage of new vehicles in the U.S. (38 percent).5 
  • In terms of everyday purchases, according to Nielsen research, boomers account for nearly $230 billion in consumer packaged goods sales, dominating 97 percent of categories.6

This is not to suggest that we should fully shift our focus away from millennial consumers (or reaching the generation of tomorrow). Instead, consider the opportunity that exists today to be part of the journey as boomers make purchase decisions. As their needs evolve, boomers will continue to have measurable value as consumers.

Willing to spend beyond necessities

It’s not just millennials who place high value on experiences. The majority of boomers do as well, with ninety percent of them believing that experiences lead to a more fulfilling life.7 Contrary to what some might imagine, boomers don’t sit at home waiting for time to pass. They are spending beyond day-to-day necessities, on the things they want and experiences they’d like to have. More than half of boomers say they are more willing to splurge on purchases now than they were in their younger years. A majority also indicate they’ll pay more for convenience and quality.1

Have time and money, will travel

According to a travel trends study by AARP, boomers and older travelers are responsible for nearly half of all vacation dollars spent by Americans, spending over $120 billion annually on leisure travel. Findings also show that cost has a lesser impact on travel plans of boomers than it does on those of younger generations of travelers. For example, when looking at airfare, 37 percent of boomers say increased airfare affects their vacation plans, compared with 57 percent of Gen Xers and 63 percent of millennials. Having a budget is also of less importance to boomers when compared to younger generations — more than 60 percent of Gen Xers and millennials say they make a trip budget. Fewer than half of boomers prepare one.8

Embracing technology

Think boomers don’t use technology? You may want to reconsider. You likely already know that millennials and Gen X make more purchases via apps than boomers, but you may be might be surprised to learn that a recent survey indicated more than one-third of boomers have purchased a product via a smartphone app.9

Boomers also look to the internet to make informed purchase decisions. Prior to making consumer goods purchases, some of boomers’ top sources for product/brand information are online:

• 62 percent conduct research via online product reviews;
• 54 percent say they use retailer websites; and
• 49 percent look to brand websites.10

While most of their shopping is still done in stores, 29 percent of boomers say they are buying more items online across multiple categories and having them delivered to their home — compared to 27 percent of millennials.11

Worthy of marketers’ attention

Who says marketing efforts need only focus on one generation of consumers at a time? It’s time to think differently about generational marketing segmentation, keeping in mind that a one-size-fits-most approach is unlikely to garner desired results. There is significant diversity within the boomer generation, and marketing plans should consider and account for this diversity — younger and older; still-working versus retired; the tech-savvy, traditional, and so on.

Boomers aren’t looking to sit things out and watch from the sidelines. They are active and involved. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach, engage and activate this key consumer cohort as they seek to enjoy all that life has to offer.

1 Influent50 (an AARP services agency) survey using ORC International’s Generational Online CARAVAN Omnibus, conducted among a sample of 1,000 baby boomers between the ages of 50 and 69 May 13–18, 2015
2 Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau population projections for 2015, “The Whys and Hows of Generations Research”
3 U.S. Census Bureau estimates as cited by Pew Research, “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” April 25, 2016
4 Deloitte Center for Financial Services, “The future of wealth in the United States ‘Mapping trends in generational wealth,’” November 2015
5 “Gen Y Buys More Cars Than Gen X, Boomers Still Lead,” J.D. Power, Aug. 1, 2014
6 “Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation,” The Nielsen Company & BoomAgers LLC, 2012
7 Eventbrite, “2 Surprising Baby Boomer Trends that Will Boost Your Ticket Sales,” Jan. 7, 2016
8 AARP Travel Research, “2016 Travel Trends,” November 2015
9 eMarketer, “The Changing Path to Purchase: What it Means to Add Mobile to the Mix,” citing Verizon survey conducted by KRC Research as cited in company blog, Jan. 12, 2016
10 Salesforce Research, “2016 Connected Consumer Goods Report,” June 2016
11 2016 RedPlum Purse String Survey, fielded on May 16–June 16, 2016