Digital marketers: don’t forget the Boomers

Colin Barnard encourages digital marketers to let go of any ageist stereotypes and learn how to better connect with older consumers.

There remains a societal stigma that Baby Boomers, aged between 56 and 76, are incapable online. This fallacious stereotype has permeated Australian marketing, resulting in many practitioners underestimating the demographic as a key driver of ecommerce. In order to effectively engage Boomers, marketers must eliminate their ageist prejudices and adjust their strategies to tap into this large, underutilised market.

With declining birth rates and growing life expectancy, Australia’s population is ageing. Constituting 27 percent of the population, Boomers represent 50 percent of Australia’s private wealth and hold the purse to 46 percent of disposable income. Despite the assumption that Boomers are ‘tech immigrants’, recent Criteo data reveals the majority of Boomers are omnichannel shoppers with nearly 50 percent purchasing online after viewing a product in store and a further 72 percent browsing for products online before buying in store.

With these insights in mind, marketers should tap into this surprisingly open minded generation or alternatively hinder their profit margin.

When marketing to older generations, you may want to rethink how you’re presenting your content and brand as a whole. Here are my three core factors to consider:

Diversification of channels

Many Baby Boomers view technology as having a positive impact on their lives, including social media. A recent Roy Morgan study shows that four in five belong to at least one social media site with Facebook (86 percent) and YouTube (65 percent) leading the charge.

While Baby Boomers may not be as in tune with online shopping as Gen Z or Millennials, they’re becoming increasingly more aware of its convenience and other key benefits. In the wake of Australians social distancing themselves as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can also expect more people including Baby Boomers to try ecommerce and become more comfortable with the technology (that is, if retailers can keep up with the demand). 

Criteo’s recent ‘Why We Buy’ survey reveals that almost half of Aussie consumers will return to a brand if it has an easy to use website. Therefore, marketers must ensure their shopping channels are providing user-friendly experiences, particularly for older generations. Considering minuscule details like the font sizes and colour contrast of a website, app or digital ad can further enhance your engagement rate. Marketers who use a diverse range of channels to push out their brand messaging will engage new audiences like Baby Boomers, sell more products and keep loyal customers informed.

Content is king

There’s no denying that in the ‘always on’ era, marketers are facing fierce competition to attract attention and get their content in front of the right consumers’ eyeballs. A modern approach to creative should always consider how each element can help marketers achieve their objectives – whether it’s awareness, consideration or conversion – while keeping a consistent brand experience.

While meme marketing and humorous content may appeal to Millennials and Gen Z, Baby Boomers have their own quirks when it comes to engaging with creative. In short, Baby Boomers are concerned with their health, wealth and leisure, not necessarily fashion trends or ‘the next big thing’. Think of Boomers’ approach to content as a ‘slow burn’. They’ll take action, but only after they’ve deliberated on it for a while.

The Holy Grail: hyper-relevance

Criteo’s data reveals 54 percent of Baby Boomers discover new brands and products through online advertising. What this shows us is that Boomers are seeking a genuine value add from the advertising content they consciously choose to engage with and expect these interactions to become a part of their everyday life in a meaningful way.

For marketers, understanding Baby Boomers’ motivations, preferences and unique behaviours in real time is key, which is where the right technology partner comes in. 

Baby Boomers may sometimes type slowly with one finger, however this doesn’t mean marketers can afford to discount older generations from their campaigns. Marketers don’t need to completely overhaul their strategies but make small adjustments to help brands speak the language of this undervalued market.

Colin Barnard is the commercial director at Criteo, ANZ.

Photo by Tiago Muraro on Unsplash.