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
- 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.
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.