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Marketing Online to Baby Boomers

November 22, 2011

If there is one demographic that every brand wants to target, it’s the baby boomers. They account for over 50% of the United States’ discretionary spending, and are responsible for over half of all consumer spending. Their spending power simply can’t be ignored, espcially when it comes to internet sales.


Buy The Numbers

The common myth among marketers is that baby boomers aren’t online. They are listening to talk radio and watching the news, right? New numbers released by eMarketer in March takes that myth and squashes it. In fact, baby boomers ages 47 to 55 spent 40 hours per month online during the study, and those 56 to 65 spent 37 hours online. As we take a look at the total time that Generation X’ers and Generation Y’ers, these are big numbers.


Generation X, those who are between the ages of 35 to 46, spend between 35 to 37 hours a month online. Generation Y spends on average 32 to 35 hours a month online.


Not only are baby boomers spending more time online, they are buying more than any other demographic. According to Forrester Research, baby boomers spent $650 online, on average, over a three-month period in 2010. Generation X’ers only spend $581 during that same amount of time.


The Marketing Differences

Understanding the numbers is one thing, but appreciating how the numbers work is the key element in marketing to baby boomers. Forrester Research also shows that baby boomers are more likely to respond to references from friends, and are more likely to follow traditional media (print, tv) to a given website or Facebook Page.


As Gen Y’ers and Gen X’ers spend between 60% and 70% of their online time on search engines such as Google and Yahoo, only about 50% of baby boomers use search engines to find services and products.


Baby boomers, according to research, tend to value the brand experience over the product itself. For example, as pointed out in, Apple has taken this to heart when advertising it’s iPad. Apple expertly points out how simple the experience is, and how useful the product is. Verizon, on the other hand with it’s Droid Bionic advertisements, expertly points to how ‘cool the device is’ and not necessarily how useful it can be to everyday life.


Using the Numbers to Your Advantage

How can you use this information to your advantage? Market to the behavoir of your audience.


Tammy Gordon, director of social communications and strategy for AARP, says that she believes Boomers use the web a bit differently than younger consumers. “I don’t think a lot of Boomers type in ‘AARP Facebook,’” she says, “but if three of their friends ‘like’ it, they’ll check it out.” (


Integrated marketing works on every generation, and when marketing to baby boomers the numbers don’t lie. Point to your website from all print advertising, as well as radio spots and TV commercials.