How can you make your businesses attractive to the generation of Australians with the greatest buying power?

The generation known as ‘baby boomers’, born between 1946 and 1964, is recognised as a consumer force in Australia. The distribution of wealth has shifted to older households over the last decade. Many older Australians have savings from superannuation and own their homes outright, making them wealthier overall than other generations. In addition, the baby boomer demographic currently makes up a quarter of Australia’s population, representing a significant buying power.

Stereotypes may cause small business owners to overlook the baby boomer market, favouring the more visible millennials instead. But with this generation having more disposable income to spend, this could mean that your business misses out on a lucrative segment of potential customers. So how can you make your products or services more appealing to baby boomers?

“Nobody puts baby (boomers) in the corner”

If you want older consumers to buy from your business, it’s important not to ignore them. Think about what you are offering and whether it meets their needs.

Consider the imagery and language you are using in your marketing. Are all your marketing images of twenty-something models or frail retirees in nursing homes? With the oldest boomers being fit and active people in their mid-seventies and younger members of the generation in their mid-fifties, neither choice may be appropriate. It is important not to refer to ‘old’ or ‘elderly’ people when marketing to baby boomers.

Keep in mind that a significant proportion of people over 65 are still working, so assuming everyone in the age group has endless leisure time to fill would be a mistake. Those who are retired are often very active, enjoying travel, hobbies, volunteering and in many cases helping to care for grandchildren.

Be online and offline

According to Ernst and Young, many older Australians spend more than 20 hours a week online. The boomer generation is adept at researching purchases online using search engines and prefers email to instant messaging services. They will research purchases online, including visiting review sites, before making a purchase decision (buying online or finalising the sale in store). Baby boomers are more likely to use PCs or laptops than smartphones when researching a purchase. Therefore, creating quality content such as blogs that explain that benefits of your product or service can be useful.

The boomer generation is sceptical about which brands to trust, so it is important to share social proof such as reviews and testimonials about your product and service, be clear with your communication and do what you say you are going to do when dealing with this market. Customer service is a key consideration for this buyer group and brand loyalty is high, as long as you don’t disappoint them. Offering a loyalty program can be a good investment.

It may surprise you to know that Baby Boomers are one of the biggest users of Facebook (around 90 per cent of Australians in the 50-64 year age group, and 93 per cent of over 64s, have an account) and are renowned for being more highly engaged on this platform than other demographics. This makes Facebook activity (both organic content and paid advertising) a worthwhile consideration for businesses wanting to reach this market. Take the time to brush up on your Facebook skills with a digital marketing workshop.

However, having grown up before the internet was invented, boomers are significant consumers of print advertising, plus they value a pleasant in-store experience, including good customer service. They may also appreciate the availability of a phone number or email rather than live chat, if they need to contact a customer service representative.

Accessibility should be considered in all marketing materials, with larger font sizes and high contrast between font and background colours. Website buttons should be large enough to tap without difficulty on a mobile. In terms of language, slang words should be avoided and the benefits of products clearly explained. It’s good practice to ensure all video content has captions and short sentences, particular on social media where they are often viewed without the sound on.

Have the right products and service

Many baby boomers have more disposable income having paid off mortgages and other loans, and so will often purchase higher-priced items and value quality over bargains. Categories of products favoured by this generation include:

  • household goods including home improvements
  • travel, including luxury and independent destinations and experiences such as specialty tours
  • pets (pampered pets have replaced grown children in some boomer homes)
  • healthcare and skincare products
  • fitness gear and classes
  • home assistance to help care for elderly parents
  • alcohol (the biggest spenders in this segment)
  • books
  • charity

You may be able to find a range of business ideas based on these needs, for example people who travel a lot and have pets may need house maintenance or pet care services when they go away.

Baby boomers are a large and loyal market who value quality and service and have money to spend. If you have a small business or are planning one, it’s worthwhile considering how you could attract them.

Starting and growing
10 August 2020