I was talking business with a good friend of mine who sells coupons for those books that we get in the mail every other month. While she knows that her form of marketing will soon fall to the wayside due to the influx of mobile apps and social sites like Groupon, she’s still out there making sales and filling up pages in those coupon magazines.
When we talked about the why businesses are still buying those half-page ads, she let me know that its partly to the Mommy target audience but mostly, its those folks they call Baby Boomers. The small businesses that she sells to buy those ads because the older generation has always made their buying decisions based on what deal that they can get to the closest pet store in their neighborhood. As our conversation continued, I had to ask the question, “Are Boomers still buying the same way with coupons and ads in the newspapers or has there been a shift in their buying patterns and they’re using social media to make their purchases?”
When I worked with an Active Adult Community last year on a social media campaign, I learned that the people who lived there were moving slowly into adopting social media programs like Facebook (or as my mom calls it ‘The Facebook’). It appeared their primary reason to be on the program was to connect with their families and friends. But were they using social networks to follow fan pages and help them make a decision about which car to buy?
First a few quick facts about Boomers:
- 77 million people were born between 1946 and 1964, which is defined as the Baby Boomer era (U.S. Census)
- The 50+ have $2.4 trillion in annual income, which accounts for 42% of all after-tax income (U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey)
- By 2010, the total spending for 50+ households was over $900 billion (immersion active)
- By 2010, adults 45-years-old and older out-spent younger adults by $1 trillion annually (immersion active)
I had always figured Boomers had a larger share of disposable income since most of us have all moved out of their homes. Looking at these numbers shows they are certainly a viable target audience for most consumer products.
So how about their online activities? Once my mom discovered email, I can’t seem to get her on the phone. I leave her messages and she emails me back a response. Here I am, trying to be the good daughter …funny how the world changes due to technology.
- One-third of the 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S., adults aged 50+ represent the Web’s largest constituency (Jupiter Research)
- Email is the most popular online activity among 50+ users, followed by web browsing, research, and shopping (ThirdAge and JWT Boom)
- Adults 50+ spend an average of $7 billion online annually (SeniorNet)
- 27.4 million people age 55 and over engaged in social networking with nearly 19 million of those people using Facebook (comScore)
- Top four online activities for people over 60 are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube (AARP)
So what have we learned today? Folks over the age of 50 are starting to experiment with social networks but most are using it for the main reason we all signed up … to connect with their family and friends.They’re shopping online but with the exception of AARP, I couldn’t find any brands that are successfully reaching Boomers using social media. From what I could see, there appears to be some issues regarding the marketing message when trying to reach Boomers (stay tuned for a post about the how to reach Boomers) and that may be contributing to the lack of engagement with this target audience.
If you were my client, my marketing advice to you to reach the Boomer generation would be to develop an email communication program, create an Adword campaign to capture their attention when they’re online and attempt to connect to them on Facebook with engaging posts.
But for now, I’m just gonna take my ball and head home. My mom keeps emailing me asking me why I haven’t accepted her Facebook friend request. Guess I better go before I get into trouble.
Are you marketing to Boomers and using social media? Share in the comments your experiences and let us know what worked or didn’t.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/switch75/6516538923/