My husband rarely touched a computer until he reached his late sixties; at the time, he didn’t believe that learning new technology was necessarily worth the effort. Then one day his son-in-law sat down next to him and demonstrated many of the things an iPad could do. A couple of months later, my husband owned an iPad. Within the next couple of years, he had an iPhone and an Apple 2 watch.
To assume that baby boomers are uninterested in technology or some of the same products or causes that younger generations value is a mistake. At present, baby boomers control approximately 70% of the discretionary spending in the U.S. If you are not adjusting your marketing to reach boomers in a way that resonates with us, then you are missing a good slice of the marketing pie.
Boomers may not have grown up with technology, but many are willing to learn how to use it. Boomers may not have grown up with fuel-efficient or electric cars, but many are embracing them because of concerns about the environment. Boomers may not have been raised to be fitness or health conscious, but now boomers are recognizing that by staying in shape and eating right, they can improve the quality of their lives.
Even though we may be interested in some of the same products or services that younger people want, sometimes we have to be approached a bit differently. Here are three simple ways to reach us:
First, recognize that we are interested in products and services that add value to our lives, are consistent with our values, or help us keep connected. We don’t respond will to stereotypical assumptions about aging. CEO of T-Mobile, Tim Legere (a boomer himself), capitalized on this truth in a 2017 YouTube video that profanely made fun of competitors—competitors who assumed older adults weren’t tech savvy. He knows his audience. Legere is also aware that boomers as consumers are an important group, and 67% of them use smartphones.
Ask What is Important to Us
Second, ask us what is important to us, what we value. Don’t tell us what we need. Last week I talked about a furnace sales person who immediately assumed my husband and I wouldn’t be interested in a wi-fi thermostat or an energy-efficient (slightly more expensive) furnace. When we talked to a competitor, he asked what was most important to us. Because he learned we were concerned about the environment, he was able to sell us a 96% energy-efficient furnace (with a wi-fi thermostat) and a new air conditioner.
Finally, remember we may not all share the same language when talking about technical aspects of different products. Showing us through demonstrations, brochures, or videos can help bridge potential language differences. According to Google, 50% of baby boomers watch online videos. When I was working with a web developer, he not only showed me what he was doing so I could later update and make changes on my site, he also sent me YouTube tutorials so I could see how to do some of the things that were of interest to me. This web developer not only did a great job, he respectfully educated me so that I felt more knowledgeable after having worked with him. Now I refer Josh, who owns Platform Online Solutions, to others.
Again, if you want to increase your market share, remember that boomers are individuals with unique needs and interests. If you avoid stereotyping us, ask what is important to us, and engage us, you’ll no doubt reach a lot more of us. And don’t forget, if we’re happy (or not), we are sure to share our experiences with others.