CPG and Retail Advertising News


Baby Boomers Are Online, And Brands Are Following

October 22, 2020 Erin Sweeney

Shutterstock_576183337 Pleasant cute boy pointing at the laptop screen

In the U.S., Baby Boomers are a powerful market segment, commanding more than 70% of the nation’s wealth. Once known as die-hard brand loyalists, digital amateurs and social media dabblers, Baby Boomers, roughly aged 55-75, have been largely ignored by marketers. A 2019 AARP report estimated that only 10% of marketing dollars targeted this segment of the population. However, this lack of attention is changing in 2020.

A National Retail Federation (NRF) report shows that the pandemic has shifted older Americans’ priorities, shopping behaviors and social media use, creating potential for ecommerce growth coming from this demographic. As the pandemic continues, Baby Boomers are prioritizing home improvements to age in place, they have embraced online shopping and delivery services for safety and convenience, and they have immersed themselves in social media to make connections in the time of social distancing. Brands are responding with unique strategies to target older consumers and connect to the way they want to live their lives today and into the future.

Age In Place: Baby Boomers Prioritize Home With The Help Of Best Buy

Older Americans who have watched long-term care facilities cope with outbreaks during the pandemic are prioritizing home improvements to allow them to age in place. “Age in place” is defined by the CDC as “The ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably.” To ensure their safety and independence into the future, Baby Boomers are updating their homes in many ways, including purchasing new technology. 

Best Buy is connecting with older consumers who want digitally connected homes equipped with technology that helps them stay healthy. In the last few years, Best Buy has acquired a host of senior-focused tech devices, including remote patient monitoring company Critical Signals Technologies, wearable sensor manufacturer BioSensics and GreatCall, a developer of smartphones, smartwatches and medical alert devices

GreatCall’s Lively Flip phone with retro appeal, large buttons and easy access to GreatCall’s Urgent Response Service via their Lively app, is marketed to older consumers on the GreatCall Facebook and Twitter channels alongside health and wellness news, posts about remarkable seniors and caregiver support. 

Best Buy also worked with Medicare plans to help Baby Boomers afford the technology they need to stay in their homes as they age. In addition, providing streamlined access to senior-focused products, Best Buy categorized them on their website based on the desire they fulfill: enjoy your home, feel safe, stay connected, be healthy and be active. Best Buy also has the mobile Geek Squad, which offers Baby Boomers the customer service they need, providing either in-home or online consultations. 

Baby Boomers Use Online Services Doordash And Instacart For Safe Grocery Delivery 

Shutterstock_638686714 Teenage boy is delivering some groceries to an elderly woman. He is handing her a shopping bag at her front door.

During the pandemic, shopping in person is an even greater concern for older Americans. As a result, many Baby Boomers and older shoppers are going online and embracing delivery services. In June, NRF reported that more than one-quarter of Boomers had used a delivery service at least once in the past three months, two in 10 had done so multiple times and 61% of older shoppers leveraging delivery services said they were using these types of delivery services more now than they used to. Online grocery and restaurant delivery services are converting new users in the Baby Boomer demographic by focusing on customer service, safety and convenience.  

Instacart recently announced that they have helped more than 60,000 older Baby Boomers and Silent Generation shoppers to buy groceries online in the past month with Instacart’s new Senior Support Service. Instacart provides their service via phone, a communication channel on which many older shoppers feel comfortable. Senior Support Service helps seniors tackle technical challenges such as setting up accounts, filling virtual carts with groceries and medications, and connecting payment methods. 

DoorDash, a company that delivers both restaurant meals and groceries, was the fastest growing brand with Baby Boomers in 2019 according to a Morning Consult report. DoorDash’s popularity with this demographic grew during the pandemic, and they earned brand loyalty from Baby Boomers when they partnered with hundreds of independent grocery stores such as Hy-Vee, Piggly Wiggly and LifeThyme Natural Market, plus ecommerce platforms like Mercato, Rosie, Freshop and GrocerKey to waive delivery fees for shoppers aged 60 and older. Doordash also offers phone-based customer service to support their online platform.

Social Media, Brands And Baby Boomers 

Baby Boomers have been spending more time on social media during the pandemic to stay connected with friends and family while still practicing social distancing. According to a 2020 Statista survey, Facebook has become the social media platform of choice for older generations (78%), with YouTube in second place (67%) and Instagram in third (32%). A holiday Facebook pitch deck covered by AdAge states “Gen X and Boomers dominate mobile and ecommerce growth.” 

Baby Boomers want to see themselves in their advertising. Athleta, H&M and Chanel have all used models older than age 50 in their social media campaigns. And, brands including Zara, Nike, Lululemon and Williams Sonoma have partnered with well-established Baby Boomer influencers focused on fashion, fitness, lifestyle and health and wellness, many with tens of thousands of followers.

Baby Boomers demand a strong customer-oriented approach to service, and providing support is essential for brands marketing to them. “Physical shoppers are rapidly becoming digital shoppers,” Facebook says. “Some need guidance to navigate the online experience around the holidays.” 

Many Baby Boomers are healthy, vibrant and active, and they have more disposable income than other generations. At the outset of the pandemic, Boomers were forced to shift their priorities to health and safety and their shopping and spending online. As the pandemic wears on, they are becoming more comfortable with the use of technology in the home, online shopping, grocery delivery and social media use, and these habits are likely to continue after it’s safe to venture out again.

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About the Author

Erin Sweeney

Erin Sweeney is a freelance writer and professional educator. Throughout her 12 years of experience in secondary education, she has taught advanced composition, business communications and research methodology. Erin has a keen interest in psychology and the science of motivation. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from Saint Anselm College and a Master’s in Education from Plymouth State University. Through research and writing, Erin contributes to DMS Insights with informative articles surrounding the digital and performance marketing industries.

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