Boomers in Retail: It's Time to Re-Engage With the Forgotten Generation
Baby boomers are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, and households aged 55-plus control more than 70 percent of total net wealth. In 20 years, the population aged 55 and over will account for almost one-third of the U.S. population. Unlike millennials, who are often burdened by student debt and the costs of supporting growing families, boomers have expendable income for in-store and online purchases. Today's boomers are also experiencing many life events that present opportunities for retailers, including becoming empty nesters, getting divorced and remarried, becoming grandparents, and caring for elderly parents.
As retailers reinvent their physical and online shopping channels, their strategies must speak to this growing demographic. Boomers are living longer, are healthier and more active than ever before. They're also staying in the labor force well past traditional retirement age. Female boomers, who often make the household shopping decisions, not only purchase goods and services for themselves, they also spend on aging parents, children and grandchildren.
Store Experience Matters
Boomers prefer to purchase within brick-and-mortar stores. While younger consumers often leverage mobile apps in-store, boomers still prefer the personal touch and place great value on friendly in-store service and flexible return policies. They want to walk through a clean, organized store with wide aisles. To meet the needs of boomers, stores need to become more accessible by updating signage, layouts and other features to make the shopping experience more comfortable to navigate and more pleasurable.
Personalize and Engage to Increase Loyalty
Retailers don't want to miss the mark, or worse, insult this massive, underserved market. The stereotype that boomers are set in their ways, not interested in new products, price-sensitive and unlikely to switch brands isn't true. It's crucial to represent boomers as active, engaged and educated in creative and copy.
This older population has diverse demographics, economic and lifestyle characteristics. Smart retailers are also segmenting loyalty databases to better understand and personalize marketing and media to boomers. Tools exist that can classify every household into one of nearly 70 consumer segments based on age and household preferences for a broad range of products and behaviors. When viewed through this lens, retailers can link their loyalty information to more than 12,000 characteristics for each segment covering consumer behavior, social values and spending patterns. The results of these new insights are increased return on investment on acquisition and retention campaigns as well as increased share of wallet.
Boomers Are Social
While boomers may prefer to make the actual purchase in-store, they do leverage online channels and emerging technologies throughout their shopping journey for product research, reviews and more. The opportunity is there for retailers to use technology to their advantage to drive boomers into their stores and online to purchase. It's up to savvy retailers to better understand and adapt to how this demographic uses digital and social commerce platforms. Boomers are increasingly using smartphones and social media, but they're not necessarily using the same platforms as other generations. As a retailer, do you know the digital channels that most attract boomers?
An Opportunity Too Great to Pass Up
While Boomers use of technology is changing, so is the racial mix that this older population represents. We will see a shift to greater diversity, with the Hispanic population increasing the fastest. Using data and analytics, marketers can help identify areas of opportunity within this growing older ethnic population so retailers can tailor local marketing for maximum effectiveness. These insights can also be used for more effective staffing and signage that help consumers more easily connect to a retailer's brand.
As retailers reinvent physical and online shopping channels, it's essential to focus on and accommodate the growing and changing boomer opportunity. Boomers have diverse demographics, economic and consumer behavior and buying patterns; understanding what these are and how they're changing presents retailers with opportunities too great to pass up.
Download the full report from Environics Analytics about Marketing to Boomers here.
Tracey Matchett is a group account director at Environics Analytics, a premier data and analytics services company.
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Tracey Matchett is a Group Account Director at Environics Analytics, a premier data and analytics services company. Matchett is focused on U.S. retail and consumer packaged goods. She can be reached at 1-888-339-3304 ext. 3100 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.