Managing risk

Baby boomers: your best customers in 2024?

They’re cashed up and spending a lot of time online. Here’s more about the demographic no online business can afford to ignore.

5 December 2023

One group of customers has a meaty amount of money to spend, and they’re online more than ever before.

We’re talking about the baby boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, many of whom are in or approaching retirement. They’re a group that businesses need to pay attention to, especially if they’re feeling the inflationary pinch, according to audience researchers GWI. And if businesses preoccupy themselves too heavily with how to reach younger generations like Gen Z, they risk missing out on this group of eager online spenders.

“Globally, baby boomers are more likely to say they buy new products online each week on a credit card and also to have higher purchasing power,” said Tyler Ashe, senior trends analyst from GWI, in a recent webinar.

“Not only is baby boomers’ spending power unmatched, they're using a wider range of social apps, and they're regularly buying online.”

GWI’s stats show that 63% of boomers have a credit card, versus 41% of Gen Z; 30% are in the high-income group versus 21% of Gen Z; and 23% have high purchasing power versus 8% of Gen Z. Not only this, but 39% have purchased a product online in the past week, compared to 35% of Gen Z.

Also, boomers’ use of social media is increasing.

“We’ve really seen the digitisation of baby boomers. Their time spent on mobiles has increased from 37 minutes a day in 2013 to 2.5 hours in 2023. Social media usage has increased by 68% to nearly 90 minutes per day,” Andy Childs, head of strategy at Meta (formerly Facebook) told the webinar.

“They're an engine for growth,” he adds.

Targeting boomers

And if baby boomers aren’t currently one of your biggest customer segments, it might not be because your products or services aren’t appealing, but rather that you’re not thinking hard enough about targeting them.

“Our research keeps coming up with more and more reasons for why baby boomers are an attractive target audience. Yet we see no movement in their responsiveness to advertising,” says Ashe.

“And that's because a very small percentage of digital media budgets are allocated to ads featuring this audience,” he says.

This means there are obvious benefits in tweaking your approach and working to represent older generations more authentically.

Boomers have typically been fond of Facebook, and while that is still the case, the way they use social media is changing. They’re on a wider range of social apps, for a start – their use of TikTok has grown 57% since 2021, Snapchat 73%, and Reddit 73%. They also like to follow influencers, like Lynn Yamada Davis (Lynja), who became a TikTok sensation aged 63.

 “Just because Gen Z are shiny, new, and elusive, it doesn't mean they're the only route to revenue success online, especially in a climate where shoppers are feeling the pinch,” Ashe says.

“Smart brands won't just look to young consumers for a lifeline. They'll make a conscious effort to engage with generations who have money, now are online and are actively shopping,” he concludes.

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