Where the Bucks in Online Marketing Are: Are You Ignoring High-Spending Boomers?


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There is a new Forrester Research study out on who’s doing what with online technology. Some of the facts should give marketers and business leaders pause for reflection.
First a qualifier, I haven’t read the full study and am working from the article about it reported in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.
The statistics that caught my attention were the ones on how different age groups make use of online technology. The comments by Charles Golvin, the author, also caught my attention.

    Here’s the stats:

  • Gen Y (18-28 yrs): 38 million who spent an average of $463 online in the past 3 months.
  • Gen X (29-42 yrs): 63 million who spent and average of $643 online in the past 3 months.
  • Boomers (43-63): 81 million who spent and average of $775 online in the past 3 months.
  • Seniors (64+): 39 million who spent and average of $595 online in the past 3 months.

Multiply the number of people in a group by the average spending and you will see that Boomers spent nearly 4 times more money online than Gen Y. And, you will see that all other age groups also out spent the Gen Y group.
Here are the taglines attributed to Golvin for each age group:

  • Gen Y – Gen Y are more or less digital natives; they are heavy users of new media. It is their default.
  • Gen X – They have greater economic power (than Gen Y) and are quick to adopt technologies.
  • Boomers – These old dogs reluctantly learn new tricks. For this group technology is primarily about convenience… like online banking, they’ll use it once they get proof it is easier and safe.
  • Seniors – Online, but barely and not often. One might say an older dog is even more difficult to teach tricks to.

As an old dog I would advise other old dogs that run companies to analyze what tricks the old dog learned that lead them to spend so much money. Then, I would figure out how to attract more of them to my online initiatives. I think what they learn is their online initiatives more appealing and intuitive to the old dogs.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor


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