8 reasons why brands can't afford to neglect baby boomers

By Tristan Morris


Whatever sector your organisation operates in, when it comes to attracting, engaging or retaining customers, it’s essential to pinpoint some demographics, like age to help you to reach them as effectively as possible. Boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964, and let me start by declaring an interest. This article is written by a boomer, born in the 1950s, so from personal experience I can vouch that my generation definitely possess value to brands. The facts speak so eloquently for themselves.

We’ll explore what boomers really are like. Why brands can’t afford to miss out on their business, and what you can learn from Sir Rod Stewart.

Why brands shouldn’t be dumping boomers for a younger model

Boomers are not being reached by brands that badly need their business. Campaign magazine calls them “The new generation invisible”. According to a whitepaper published by Five by Five in 2019, they are the least engaged age group when it comes to product and brand launches. Over half of iGen consumers (17 to 26 year olds) said they were aware of a launch over the past 12 months. The figure was just 25% for those over the age of 55.

Here’s eight great reasons why brands shouldn’t overlook boomers:

1. Power in numbers

There were around 14.3 million baby boomers in the UK in 2019 according to Aegon, forming 21.3% of the population. The same report found that over-55s (boomers and older) are nearly one third of the UK population. With life expectancies rising and births falling, this proportion is going to increase. Making boomers a powerful segment in volume alone. That’s a lot of potential customers and revenue brands could be missing out on.

2. They have money and are ready to spend it

A BBC report puts it bluntly and dramatically, boomers are “the richest, most powerful generation that ever lived”.

Another report, in the Financial Times, provides the evidence. Baby boomers’ net household property wealth has been calculated at 17 times that of 30 to 32 year olds. It estimates that of every £1 of household wealth in the UK, boomers own 36 pence, easily the largest share.

The Financial Times also reports that one in five boomers are millionaires, rising from just 7% in 2006. This is thanks to decades of economic boom (that word again), soaring property prices and the generosity of final salary pension schemes. Contrast this with Generation X. 35 to 44 year olds saw their share of the nation’s wealth fall by 5% in the same period.

The baby boomer generation combines its formidable spending power with a thirst for fresh life experiences.  That’s great news for brands – a big audience, that’s got spending power and a lust for life experiences. What are you waiting for?

Around 33% of boomers have jam packed social lives and 25% love planning holidays. They’re a curious bunch and are keen to make the most of their current life stage, brands that invest in consumer research will be able to leverage this sort of insight to generate not just sales, but personalised, meaningful experiences for this audience.

3. They’re online now more than ever before

Boomers may not be digital natives, but they spend a lot of their time online. More than ever, in fact, thanks to the pandemic. Half of UK boomers increased their use of video calls during lockdown, and two out of three started gaming. They typically spend 22 hours a week online, which is only two hours less than the UK average.

However, their internet use is often different. Older consumers are more discerning in how they interact with technology. Their online attitude is selective, rather than compulsive, and more often combined with use of traditional media such as newspapers and books. Making omni-channel marketing paramount to ensure however this generation want to surprise us, brands are accessible and ready.

4. They’re less likely to be on their phones

92% of boomers shop online, but 31% prefer to make purchases on a laptop or desktop computer, rather than a smartphone. Digital marketing is moving in a mobile first direction for excellent reasons, but the lesson here is not to neglect desktop content as a result.

5. Boomers, Facebook and websites

Baby boomers spend an average of 1 hour 48 minutes on social media a day, with Facebook their preferred platform. They are 19% more likely to share content than any other generation, and 58% more likely than millennials to click through to a brand’s website from a social media post. The worlds of online marketing and social media influencers reach older audiences too.

For brands this might mean creating engaging Facebook content or targeted paid social ads that will best reach this demographic.

6. Huge buying power

A highly successful recent campaign targeting boomers was the one that helped Rod Stewart to become the oldest performer to have a number one album in the UK. A cleverly personalised media strategy successfully engaged 55-plus music lovers across the relevant social channels. It rocketed old gravel voice to the top of the charts at the age of 74, ahead of young Stormzy and Harry Styles.

7. They’re vaccinated

In the UK, this age group is likely to have already had at least one COVID-19 jab. Vaccine passports may or may not happen. But if they do become reality, boomers will be the first people out there using them to spend money.

The pandemic has disrupted all sectors and forced businesses to rethink how they engage with their audiences. There’s no straight answer to how to capitalise on new consumer behaviours in the next normal, but investing in learning how your target demographics are behaving post-COVID is a great starting point to consider how to adapt your digital marketing strategy.

8. They care and want to help better the planet

It’s easy to dismiss over-55s as a generation that choose not to engage with green living, innovative technology or progressive living – research shows this isn’t the whole story.

A 2020 Opinium poll, reported in The Guardian, found that boomers are the UK’s greenest generation, the most likely to try to minimise their environmental footprint. “About half of people over 55 say they shop locally, buy fewer clothes that last longer and try to avoid single-use plastics. Only about a quarter of those aged 18-34 said they do the same. And only 16% of 18-34s buy seasonal produce, compared with 35% of over-55s.”

This audience segment is likely to have aligned values with modern, ambitious brands and has the time and money to really soar sales if brands choose to reach them effectively.

How can your brand make the most of the boomer market?

Like any marketing strategy, considering audience should happen at the earliest stages and then, which channels and tactics follow audience analysis. In this instance, we know boomers are most active on Facebook and steer towards desktop, things like this would inform your activity.

Smart marketers will recognise that audiences cannot and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed, yes there are some common behaviours, however applying this to your sector, your region or product might alter slightly. Ultimately, the best way to move any audience is to understand what drives them emotionally and then create powerful content that evokes a response.

We’re TrunkBBI, an integrated marketing agency that uses content-led performance marketing to get our clients where they want to be. Since 2011 we have been helping brands to grow by using industry-leading data analysis tools and the latest thinking in behavioural science. Our team of strategists, researchers and digital experts then pull all of this together to deliver meaningful solutions.

Contact us today to find out how we can help elevate your marketing strategy and take advantage of our unique approach to turbo-charging your growth.