How to Market to Baby Boomers and Beyond (and Why You Should)

Are you so busy targeting millennials that you’re missing out on sales to the next biggest group — boomers?
baby boomer friends playing billiards
Baby boomers have more disposable income than any other population segment, and they’re spending it. Don't forget them in your marketing strategy. (Photo: Shutterstock/Rawpixel)

Marketing to millennials makes perfect sense, since they are now the largest segment of the U.S. population. But don’t get so tied up in trying to lure them to your business them that you ignore the second-largest segment: baby boomers.

According to a 2015 U.S. News & World Report baby boomer report, boomers control 70 percent of all disposable income in the United States — money that can be spent at your small business.

As of 2015, there were an estimated 75.4 million baby boomers living in the United States. They are now in their mid-fifties to early seventies. And along with all of us, the U.S. population as a whole is also aging. Every year, the median age increases. By 2060, nearly a fourth of the country will be 65 or older.

Ignore the salt-and-pepper (or salt-and-salt) set at your peril. Here are a few ways to win their business.

Tweak your existing marketing messages

couple at table looking at map

“Retirees are active and feel younger, are willing to learn and try new things, and have the disposable income to do what they want,” said Matt Holsinger, CEO of Enthrallogy Marketing. (Photo: Blend Images/Shutterstock)

You don’t need to take a completely different marketing approach, said Rodger Roeser, CEO of The Eisen Agency and VP of the American Marketing Association’s northeast Ohio chapter. Instead, reframe your existing messages to be more relevant.

For instance, while it may not make sense to market video game gear to retirees for their personal use, you could tweak your message and position the buy as a “great gift from grandpa,” said Roeser.

Related: Why and How to Offer Gift Cards

Focus on the lifestyle value your product or service adds

Thanks to advances in health care and the highly active lifestyles of baby boomers, the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” type of ads are finding less and less resonance with today’s retirees, said Matt Holsinger, CEO of Enthrallogy Marketing.

“Marketers tend to forget that boomers aren’t as ‘old’ as their parents were at the same age. Retirees are active and feel younger, are willing to learn and try new things, and have the disposable income to do what they want.”

Instead of just slapping on a senior citizen discount, tailor your marketing messages to focus on how your products or services can feed their sense of adventure, enhance family relationships and contribute to a healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle.

Say “yes” to tech

grandfather with son and grandson on tablet

In addition to being “younger” and more active, boomers are tech savvy, so don’t assume digital marketing tactics don’t apply. (Photo: Zinkevych/Shutterstock)

In addition to being “younger” and more active, boomers are tech savvy. “They were behind the birth and rise of computers, email, the internet and even cell phones,” said Holsinger. “Marketers tend to overlook this important fact.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of U.S. adults ages 50 to 64 use at least one social media site, along with a third of those 65 and over. (Facebook is by far the most popular platform for consumers over 50.) So don’t assume digital marketing tactics don’t apply.

Related: 5 Effective Facebook Ads Your Small Business Should Model

At the same time, don’t put all your eggs in that basket. Traditional advertising, such as radio, print and TV, does well among baby boomers, said Roeser, so diversify your marketing strategy.

Build their trust

Even more than other consumer segments, boomers must have a reason to trust you and your brand, said Roeser. One of the best ways to build that trust is with word-of-mouth marketing.

“Create experiential marketing opportunities that bring these birds of a feather together to learn, discuss and create trust around a given product or service,” he suggested.

Because boomers are less transaction oriented and more relationship focused than younger consumers, they will often pay more for better, simpler and easier customer service. “So,” said Roeser, “focus on the customer experience, then leverage that into influencer marketing” to win the hearts — and business — of boomers.

Related: Customer Service: To Make it Memorable, Make it Surprising

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