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Baby Boomers' Online Shopping Habits: Demographic Insights to Inform Your Marketing

Audience Analysis / by Bridget Wagar on October 7, 2022

Baby Boomers' Online Shopping Habits: Demographic Insights to Inform Your Marketing

Many of the nearly 70 million baby boomers – or just “boomers” – in the United States have transitioned to online shopping, a change triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The average consumer aged 65 or older spent a total of $1,615 online from January through October 2020, a 49% increase from 2019.

 

Boomers have long been considered a staple of in-person shopping, but now they’re the fastest-growing group of online shoppers, and that shift isn’t going away anytime soon. So for digital marketers, an in-depth understanding of baby boomers is key to tapping into new opportunities. We’ve gathered the latest insights into baby boomers’ online shopping habits, so you can connect more meaningfully with this growing customer group.

 

How are brands responding to baby boomers’ online shopping?

 

Prompt and friendly customer service, interactive videos, and (for food products) clear nutritional information are just a few ways companies are catering to baby boomers. This helpful information ensures boomers have what they need to make informed decisions about new products and services.


Additionally, some retailers have focused on simplifying their online shopping experiences. For example, many websites give customers prices and other information without having to enter personal details. Sound familiar? This is the Amazon model – you don’t need to create an account to search for items and see their prices and specifications. This approach lets customers shop without feeling they’re losing privacy or going through a complex browsing process.

 

Another good example is Geico’s strategically targeted campaigns, meeting boomers on the sites and platforms they visit most often. The creative and messaging in these campaigns are also tailored to connect directly with these consumers and communicate how their services are relevant to this audience.


Lowe’s has also experienced significant sales growth among baby boomers through its Livable Home initiative. In a partnership with AARP, the home improvement company published a section on its website filled with articles related to safe living at home as mobility needs change. Each article contains several links to tools on Lowe’s website, from shower grab bars to garden benches and stair lighting.

 

Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison came up with this idea from observing a baby boomer in his own life, his Dad. Ellison told CNBC, “It dawned on me that if my Dad is having these issues and I’m the CEO of a home improvement company, then the greater baby boomer population and caretakers must also have the same issue.”

 

Why baby boomers are a coveted demographic

 

Baby boomers have the most disposable income of all American age groups. Federal Reserve data from the first quarter of 2022 showed baby boomers held more than 50% of the nation’s wealth. By comparison, Generation X and Millennials, combined, held just over 36%.

 

Additionally, once baby boomers find brands they like, they often stick with those same brands for years to come. We used Helixa’s Total Consumer View (our data fusion product in partnership with MRI-Simmons) and found that 38% of baby boomers completely agree with this statement, “When I find a brand I like, I stick to it.” Offering top-tier customer service and products that offer plenty of value for their price can increase your chances of earning boomers’ loyalty.

 

Notably, boomers don’t receive an overwhelming amount of attention from brands overall. E-commerce companies often overlook baby boomers in their marketing since many boomers once preferred to shop in stores instead of online, but times have changed.


Of course, we already know that baby boomers definitely shop online. In fact, boomers are a huge part of online grocery store and clothing sales. According to a report from The NPD Group, baby boomers contributed to about 20% of online apparel sales during the past year. The Washington Post also found that shoppers 60 and older order groceries on Instacart 25% more often than younger shoppers. And as we noted earlier, these numbers will continue to grow.

 

Understanding baby boomers

 

To help you get a better understanding of the baby boomer generation, below are some of their core demographics.

 

1. Age and gender

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. As of 2022, people of this generation range between 58 and 76 years old. Because of this generation’s large span, economists often split it into two groups: the 58-67 age range and the 68-76 age range. Women make up about 57% of baby boomers between the ages of 55 and 64 and about 43% of those over 65.

 

2. Financial views

Baby boomers are typically conservative with their finances. According to an Investopedia survey, many boomers are financially literate and feel comfortable managing their finances. About 32% of survey respondents said they take extra care to ensure their financial information is safe online.

 

3. Income

About 28% of baby boomers make more than $100,000 annually. An AARP survey found that 34% of baby boomers in the gig industry are retired. AARP also found that boomers with active gig work make about $43,600 annually. In an analysis of Federal Reserve data, MagnifyMoney reported that baby boomers have an average net worth of about $1,021,000. Their personal savings are worth about $102,000.

 

4. Top industries they buy from

As they reach retirement age, many baby boomers will travel more. This means they spend more money on luxurious experiences and at beach resorts. 

 

Additionally, with their retirement downtime, boomers often have more opportunities to learn new skills and develop their interests. As a result, education is another popular industry among this generation. Pet care also generates considerable spending from baby boomers since pets can bring some livelihood to boomers’ empty nests.

 

Data-based ideas on how to connect with baby boomers

 

Now that you know the basics on baby boomers and why you should connect with them, you can strategically market to them. You’ll find some data-based ideas below:

 

1. How boomers engage with companies

Boomers enjoy one-on-one interactions with companies. In fact, Forbes has reported that 58% of boomers prefer to communicate with brands via email. Forbes also found that 40% of boomers are interested in learning about brands through TV ads.

 

You should always reply promptly to your customers’ questions, but especially boomers, in light of this fact. You should also make your business’s contact information easy to find so boomers can conveniently call and speak with someone about questions or feedback.

 

2. How boomers shop

Although baby boomers still prefer shopping in a physical store, the fact that these digital immigrants' online shopping has increased dramatically over the past two years means that marketers need to tailor some of their messaging specifically to this generation.  Particularly since their disposable income is also higher than most other generations.

 

E-commerce tactics should also focus on making boomers’ online shopping experiences as convenient and inexpensive as possible to continue encouraging them to shop online.

 

3. What websites they use

According to Pew Research Center data, as of February 2021, about 45% of consumers 65 and older use social media. About 37% of baby boomers also increased their social media usage between 2020 and 2021.

 

Most boomers prefer using Facebook over other social media platforms. They often use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and stay updated on their life events. YouTube is also a popular site among baby boomers.

 

With this information in mind, running ads on YouTube can also be a great way to reach boomers. You should also consider building up your business’s Facebook page and enabling the Facebook chat pop-up feature. This way, when boomers come across your page, they can get a good sense of your brand, easily access your website, and connect with you.

 

4. How much time they spend online

The average baby boomer spends about 27 hours online every week. Some experts predict this number will increase, given boomers’ desire to stay connected with their families and the rest of the world. By comparison, adults across all age ranges spend an average of six hours and 53 minutes online daily. That’s about 48 hours per week online.

 

Since baby boomers spend about half as much time online as all adults, you should focus on a straightforward online experience for your customers. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and that customers can clearly see your prices.

 

5. What devices they use

 

According to Insider Intelligence data, more than 50 million baby boomers own smartphones, making smartphones the most popular devices in this group. Smart TVs are the second most popular device, with 35 million baby boomer users. Additionally, smartphones are the primary way many boomers access the internet.

 

To keep boomers engaged on your site, make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Try to limit the number of pop-ups on your site too. An onslaught of pop-ups can be frustrating for boomers who aren’t as used to smartphones as younger users. To reach boomers on their smart TVs, you can run ads on streaming services such as Hulu, Sling, and YouTube TV.

 

How Helixa can help

 

Understanding baby boomers’ backgrounds, habits, and preferences can help you effectively connect with one of the highest-spending age groups in the U.S. But learning about the boomers in your audience is the key to opening every door for you. You should know your boomer customers’ values, interests, and passions. After all, the more you segment your boomer audience based on this, the better you can serve them.

 

Helixa’s premium data packages can give you in-depth insights into your baby boomer audience. These packages use AI and machine learning to find answers to just about any question you have about your audience. This way, you can create marketing strategies tailored to all of the boomers in your target market. 


Ready to explore meaningful data on baby boomers’ online shopping habits? Get started with Helixa today in as few as 15 minutes.

 


Bridget-headshotBridget is the Marketing Manager at Helixa, where she leads content strategy and champions company culture. In her free time, she loves listening to musical theatre podcasts, cooking vegan food, and spending way too much time on TikTok.

 

 

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