How retailers can combine technology and tradition to connect with digital shoppers.
As retail becomes more focused on delivering personalized shopping experiences, understanding who your customers are and what their expectations are is more important than ever. As the largest demographic, Millennials are often considered the generation most deserving of attention, but Baby Boomers are called the “me generation” for a reason, and they aren’t giving up the spotlight just yet.
“Today’s constant stream of new technologies is a virtual fountain of youth for Boomers. From a practical standpoint, new technology helps them stay socially and intellectually connected with their contemporary world. Psychologically, it helps them to validate their self-image of being experiential, progressive, and perpetually youthful.” - Nielsen, “Introducing Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation”
With almost half of the U.S. adult population turning 50 or older in the next five years, Baby Boomers control approximately 70% of the country’s disposable income. So, they’re not just asking for retailers to pay attention to them, they’re banking on it. Retailers may not be reaching out to Baby Boomers on digital platforms, like social media or email, as much as other demographics, but there is one area where Boomers are that can benefit from digital engagement from retailers: in the store.
Baby Boomers and Social Media
Millennials are deemed to be incredibly tech savvy and are often the target of most digital marketing campaigns. Retailers who choose only to focus their attention and marketing dollars on this group are missing out on the buying power of the Boomer generation.
When it comes to social media, Baby Boomers use social media in a different way than other generations; for example, they tend to stick to more traditional sites like Facebook. Reports indicate that over 27 million social networking users in the U.S. are over the age of 55, with almost 19 million of those active on Facebook specifically.
Today’s Baby Boomers are more connected than ever and while they use social media primarily to stay in touch with family and friends, in terms of shopping behavior, this group does a lot of researching via social sites but likes the personal engagement of traditional stores when making actual purchases. According to a recent study on the state of retail, 67% of people aged 55 to 64 report that if an item they want is available online or in a nearby store, they prefer to shop in store.
Baby Boomers and Store Associates
A key characteristic of the Boomer generation is their trust in store associates. This age group remains committed to the belief that those working in the store are experts and can provide the best guidance when it comes to important questions concerning the products or services. This reinforces the Boomer behavior to do the majority of their shopping in-store.
Retailers who want to capitalize on this unique and persistent relationship between Boomers and store associates can empower both through digital technology in the store. Ensuring store associates are as informed as shoppers is a growing challenge that retailers are facing to keep up with their customers. Adding digital solutions like mobile POS and in-store Clienteling apps are key to engage the Boomer generation who place tremendous value on store associate recommendations. These personal connections are what build lasting loyalty.
Because of their adherence to brand loyalty and in store shopping behaviors, Baby Boomers are reliable consumers for retailers to focus on. Understanding how Boomers research products and make buying decisions will benefit the savvy retailer. Companies that create a relationship with Boomers from social media through to the physical engagement in-store will be able to capitalize on the tremendous buying power this generation holds.