In 2021, it’s not so much about who you’d like to support your business and more about who can. And there’s no denying the collective wealth of the Baby Boomer generation: At 73 million strong, the 50-plus segment of shoppers commanded more than half of all consumer spending pre-pandemic. And even though the pandemic caused many consumers to tighten their belts, Boomers were the least likely to report financial insecurity.
The worst of the pandemic is (hopefully) behind us, but it forced almost all shoppers — Boomers included — to change their buying habits in one way or another.
Most notably, stay-at-home mandates meant buyers couldn’t just pop into their favorite brick-and-mortar stores to stock up on goods. In response, we saw a massive migration to online shopping. Analysis from Numerator showed that, between July 20 and Aug. 30, 2020, online sales ordered by Baby Boomers increased nearly 50% each week compared to the same period in 2019. And when the NRF asked Boomers how often they’ve used delivery services like Amazon Prime since the onset of the pandemic, more than a third said they were using them “significantly more.”
With the increase in options that online shopping affords, we also saw brand loyalties tested. A multigenerational study of 1,000-plus American adults found that almost three-quarters had tried a new online retailer since the pandemic began, and 76% of Boomers, long believed to be a deeply brand-loyal generation, said they’d try a new retailer if presented with a coupon.
All that’s to say, it might be a good idea to consider marketing to Baby Boomers — and if you already have a high rate of Boomer buyers, you better start working hard to retain them. Here are three strategies you can employ when marketing to Boomers during the pandemic (and beyond).
1. Create a seamless offline-to-online experience.
Boomers are interacting with online channels more than ever, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never return to their old offline favorites. With that in mind, omnichannel campaigns are a great option when marketing to Boomers. The goal is to create a seamless journey that spans across channels — from social media to traditional television to direct mail.
Direct mail is particularly valuable for this target audience because many Baby Boomers still struggle to trust online-only marketing, and when we consider how incredibly saturated the digital marketing landscape is, it’s not hard to see why. With that in mind, consider launching your Boomer-focused direct response campaign via offline mediums like direct mail greeting cards first. Using a call to action, you can then drive these consumers to your website or social media profiles to further interact with your brand and hopefully make a purchase.
2. Encourage BOPIS shopping.
What is BOPIS? It’s an acronym you’ve heard countless times in the last year — probably because it’s become essential during the pandemic. Short for “buy online, pick up in-store,” BOPIS works just like it sounds:
- Customers buy your products online (whether that’s through your app or your website).
- Your store fulfills their order.
- Customers pick up the order at the store.
If you don’t think Boomers will go for BOPIS, think again. The NRF study cited above found that more than 60% of Boomers know about BOPIS (which is, notably, more than younger generations), and two-thirds have tried it. Of those who’ve tried it, another two-thirds indicate that it enhanced their shopping experience. If BOPIS makes sense for your brand, don’t hesitate to offer it. We don’t expect shoppers to drop BOPIS once we return to pre-pandemic life — it’s much too easy, convenient, and safe.
3. Keep it real.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the world could use a little more compassion and empathy. So when you’re creating your marketing materials, be real, be helpful, and be genuine. This advice applies across all generations, of course, but Boomers have been around the block, which means they can spot inauthentic communication from a mile away.
It’s also important to remember that Baby Boomers are aging — and that might mean they’re combatting social isolation more than, say, a Gen Xer who’s married with three young kids. Greeting cards are a great tool in the fight against loneliness. After all, 70% of consumers feel valued after receiving a piece of mail, and Drug Store News reports that consumers still prefer to celebrate special occasions with greeting cards.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what one Medicare member experience manager at a health insurance plan had to say about direct mail greeting cards: “Our members are receiving the ‘We’re Here for You’ cards and are expressing their gratitude when talking with our associates. Big thanks to you and the team for making this happen.”
Shopping habits shifted among Boomers this past year, with many breaking decades-long brand allegiances in favor of exploring new options. For marketers, this puts a demographic that was perceived as intensely brand loyal — and, therefore, unwinnable — back into play. So start marketing to Boomers today.