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Baby Boomers & Online Shopping: What You Need to Know

Baby Boomers are a force to be reckoned with in the online shopping space.

While marketers and advertisers have been trying to capture a generation of Millennial consumers for years, and are just now setting their sights on the up-and-coming Gen Z, Baby Boomers have remained a force to be reckoned with when it comes to spending, and a lot of it is done online.


In our research at The Center, we’ve discovered that technological trends are beginning to trickle upwards, meaning that older generations start adopting the smartphone and social media habits of younger generations. This can easily be observed on Facebook: where it used to be a playground solely for Millennials, it now also appeals to Millennials’ parents and even grandparents!

Online shopping is also experiencing the trickle-up effect. In fact, according to a recent study on online activity as reported in Forbes, Boomers ranked researching and shopping as the third and fourth most important online activities (following news consumption and social media). To compare, Millennials ranked shopping as fifth most important.

Boomers are even shopping on their mobile devices. BI Intelligence, a research service from Business Insider, found that one in four people aged 55 and older shop on their smartphones and tablets.

Of course, though, understanding that Boomers like to shop online and on mobile devices is a way to get at the main point: Boomers have money, they’re earning more money, and they like to spend. Forbes offers these tips on appealing to and inspiring loyalty in this affluent generation:

  • Understand their differences: Baby Boomers are a huge generation, accounting for roughly 75 million people. Naturally, this means that younger Boomers likely shop online differently than their 70-year-old counterparts. Some are still working and some have been retired for a while. If marketers tailor their efforts to meet Baby Boomers where they are in their individual life stages, they’ll be on the right track to win these powerful consumers.
  • Meet them where they are: Speaking of life stage, the best way to predict how Baby Boomers will spend is to understand why they are spending. For example, according to Bloomberg Business Week, Boomers purchase half of the computers and two-thirds of the new cars sold annually. Similar to Millennials, they also spend a lot of money on their pets. Whether it’s because they’re newly retired or newly empty nesters, or simply because they’ve reached a new stage in their careers, it’s crucial for retailers to be aware of these changing preferences.
  • It’s only going up from here: Though so many Boomers are reaching retirement age, their funds may still be increasing. According to research by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Baby Boomers are expected to inherit $8.4 trillion by 2030. This means their incredible spending power is likely going to increase in surprising and unexpected ways. The online retail marketing should take note and be aspirational, gearing their Boomer customers toward major purchases such as travel, artwork, special jewelry and home improvements.
  • Prepare for a long-term relationship: Even though Boomers have been spending for a longer time than any other generation, their loyalties are not necessarily always set. And this generation of Boomers have better health care and are living longer. If you’re an online retailer, or a retailer that does a large chunk of business online, think of how you can evolve your services for aging needs, including delivery services, video content, and increased customer service.

What do you look for in an online retailer? Join the conversation on Twitter at @Whatthegen and @JasonDorsey and don’t forget to add your #generation!

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