SUMMARY: As more and more baby boomers move online, retailers and consumer goods brands are scrambling to meet them there with round-the-clock customer service, detailed nutrition information, and interactive videos aimed at simplifying e-commerce for the uninitiated.
There’s a common stereotype that Baby Boomers are technologically handicapped and close-minded. However, they’re neither oblivious, nor opposed to cutting-edge solutions and technological advances, such as AI programs that can increase their mobility, or biotech advancements that could potentially extend their lifespan.
Consumers 65 and older, on average, spent a total of $1,615 online from January through October, a 49 percent increase from a year earlier, making them the fastest-growing cohort of online shoppers, according to NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking, which captures data from consumer receipts both online and in stores. Frequency of purchases, meanwhile, climbed more than 40 percent. (Source: Wash Post)
Baby boomers are a coveted demographic: They tend to be loyal customers and have more disposable income than their younger counterparts. In 2018, consumers 50 and older spent $7.6 trillion, accounting for 56 percent of overall U.S. spending, according to AARP.
At Instacart, shoppers in the 60-plus category order groceries 25 percent more frequently than their younger peers and spend 35 percent more on household items, such as cleaning supplies and paper products.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in baby boomers shopping online, so the focus has been, ‘How can we make this as easy as possible for them?’” said Elizabeth Bennett, vice president of e-commerce for Kraft Heinz. “If you think about a traditional store, I can’t control which entrance you walk in or which aisles you go down. But online, when we see who you are as a consumer, we can surface certain items.”
And the shift is not confined to groceries; older shoppers are flocking to other online retailers, too. The number of baby boomers shopping on Lowes.comsoared more than 70 percent in the first two months of the pandemic, according to Jackie Pardini Hartzell, a spokeswoman for the home improvement chain.
Baby Boomers have also been spending more time on social media during the pandemic to stay connected with friends and family while still practicing social distancing. According to a 2020 Statista survey, Facebook has become the social media platform of choice for older generations (78%), with YouTube in second place (67%) and Instagram in third (32%). A holiday Facebook pitch deck covered by AdAgestates “Gen X and Boomers dominate mobile and ecommerce growth.”
To enhance the trust you’ve built with your Boomer buyers, you must remain consistent across all channels—in your physical stores, in print advertisements, in social media marketing, and on the apps where this generation may complete their purchases.
The continued pandemic means that more and more Boomers are going to continue to shop online. Ignoring this demographic is akin to losing sales. Brands and eCommerce retailers need to know who their online customers are and cater the online experience to their needs.