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myths about baby boomers

Busting 23 Myths About Baby Boomers

There are so many myths about Baby Boomers today that it makes sense to believe at least a couple of them. If they’re repeated over and over by different people, they must be true, right?

Not even remotely true. When it comes to marketing to Baby Boomers, it’s important to know fact from fiction. You definitely don’t want to start planning a campaign believing something to be true when it’s not.

With that in mind, here are 23 myths about Baby Boomers you might believe, but are definitely not true.

Myth 1: Boomers have fierce brand loyalty

Actually, Boomers are just like the general population: They’ll eagerly experiment with new products. More than half agree with the statement, “In today’s marketplace, it doesn’t pay to be loyal to one brand.”

Myth 2: Boomers have health and mobility issues

Myths about Baby Boomers, like this one, need to end sooner rather than later. The perception that Boomers are in bad health and have a hard time getting around leads to ineffective marketing. Your messaging and offers should engage them as active consumers. As a direct result of medical technology and the advancement of hip and joint replacement surgery, among others, they are going back to the activities they once loved to do—and some have never taken a break from them. What’s even more encouraging is that Boomers are engaging in activities for health benefits. They might not be running as fast or jumping as high but they are out there doing it.

Myth 3: Boomers get tighter with money as they age

Baby Boomers now cite the average retirement age at around 68, and more than 50 percent of Boomers will have new careers. Yet more myths about Baby Boomers. With a genuine need to contribute to society and stay active, retirement isn’t what it used to be. Baby Boomers will have disposable income while working and continue to try new things given their busy and on-the-go lifestyle, which is great for marketers.

Myth 4: Boomers are technologically challenged

Let’s get this one out of the way early. A recent eMarketer study confirmed almost 50 percent of Baby Boomers maintain an active social media profile. So reaching them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is now an option. While Facebook is most popular among Boomers, Twitter is also growing in popularity. Don’t count them out on the mobile front either, as almost 9 out of every 10 Boomers have a cell phone.

Myth 5: Boomers don’t use social media

As we’ve just shown, the truth is, Boomers are the fastest growing technology sector. 89 percent of Boomers have cell phones, 70 percent are on Facebook, 66 percent buy from online retailers, and 31 percent are on Twitter. We may make a lot of jokes about helping our parents or grandparents with new technological crazes such as SnapChat and Instagram, but Boomers are a lot more adept with technology and social media than we give them credit for. This gives marketers many digital channels to connect with Boomers.

Myth 6: Boomers are on social media, but aren’t active users

According to a recent article by Digital Trends, do you know the generation most likely to share a post on Facebook? Yep, more myths about Baby Boomers busted. They’re also the most likely to share political content, whereas millennials are the least likely generation to become embroiled in these sorts of digital debates. The most common denominator, it seems, is humor — 38 percent of people who use Facebook once a month or less say they shared a funny article or video in the last 30 days.

Myth 7: Boomers don’t travel that much

It is a fact that Boomers have traveled more than the generation before them. They consider travel a necessity. With the children off to school and a great connection to the global community, there is more opportunity than ever. Additionally, Boomers consume 82 percent of all luxury goods, which directly ties into the luxury travel and hospitality industries.

Myth 8: Boomers are all the same

Just because they’re all in the same age range and have mostly gone through the same milestones doesn’t mean they all have the same wants and needs. While many Boomers worry about money and health, others are excited about their newfound freedom, encore careers, and having grandchildren. From a marketing standpoint, understand that not all Boomers are alike. Target those most likely to purchase your product or service and identify which communication channels will most effectively reach them. Believing this, as well as these other myths about Baby Boomers, will set your marketing efforts back a lot.

Myth 9: Understand one Boomer, you’ll understand them all

The Boomers have been making waves since their arrival in 1946. History tells us that we were a country unprepared for this generation from the start. Far different than the generation before them, the Baby Boomers choose to march to the beat of their own drum, and each one is different. Their decisions are based on not only facts, but also the wealth of experiences they have accumulated up to this point. They are also experiencing more significant life events simultaneously than any other generation such as: becoming grandparents, raising toddlers, getting married, retiring, returning to school, caring for aging parents, starting new careers, and more.

Myth 10: Boomers are captured with mainstream advertising

While Boomers pay attention to advertising, two-thirds of them say that ads are too crude for their taste, and they’re less likely to buy a product if they consider the advertising offensive. Be sure to keep targeting in mind when planning ad campaigns.

Myth 11: Boomers only shop at brick and mortar stores

Boomers do enjoy shopping in-store, but that’s far from the whole story. Roughly 67 percent of Boomers do prefer to purchase an item in the store versus online, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to operate an online sale. At least 91 percent have made an online purchase.

Myth 12: Marketing to Boomers is pointless since they prefer word of mouth

While it is true that Boomers prefer word of mouth, nearly 53 percent have visited a company website through social media and 75 percent of Boomer women choose to follow their favorite brands on social media. Meaning, brand awareness is especially high with this generation. They are more likely to remain loyal to a brand. Again, that doesn’t mean they’ll stick to just one brand, as they will keep their options open.

Myth 13: Boomers don’t have the money to spend

This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Boomers outspend younger adults two to one and hold upwards of 45 percent of national income. This means that the market has extraordinary potential.

Myth 14: Baby Boomers are all unhappy

Americans actually grow happier as they grow older, according to a new study that is one of the most thorough examinations of happiness ever done in America.

Myth 15: Boomers shop less than any other generation

Four out of five retailers attribute nearly 50 percent of their sales to Boomers. So, there’s a grain of truth in each of the previous two myths about Baby Boomers, but keep both aspects in mind when planning a campaign.

Myth 16: It’s pointless to market to Boomers through social media and search engines

This is still one of the most popular myths about Baby Boomers. They are looking for the best user experience. So, any platform that increases efficiency for this generation is a good platform to have. As the Boomer generation ages, they will be looking for easier ways to access their favorite products.

Myth 17: Boomers don’t give money to their families

These myths about Baby Boomers keep coming. Boomers have been far more generous with their money than they’re given credit for, a benevolence that will continue after their deaths. The generation is poised to lead the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history. Researchers at Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimated that between 2007 and 2061, heirs will receive $36 trillion from deceased relatives, and $20.6 trillion will be given to charity. A new Merrill Lynch report credits boomers for an upcoming surge in charitable giving: Over the next 20 years, retirees will donate money and time worth $8 trillion.

Myth 18: Boomers don’t give money to their communities

Boomers have typically been portrayed with the self-centered label the “Me Generation,” but from their actions in later adulthood, a label of “We Generation” is more accurate. They are caring for others and caring for the world, with 70 percent saying they have a responsibility to make the world a better place, and 57 percent saying they try to buy from companies that give back to their communities.

Myth 19: Boomers are retiring early

Contrary to much of the attention given to the first Boomers being eligible to take Social Security benefits early, in reality very few Boomers are planning to stop working entirely when they reach retirement age – only 11 percent. Of those Boomers who know what they are planning to do when they reach retirement age (some two-thirds), 72 percent plan to work either part (65 percent) or full-time (7 percent) after they reach retirement age.

Myth 20: Boomers are downsizing their homes

Despite the image of older consumers “winding down” as the years progress and simplifying their lives and homes, just 6 percent of Boomers are planning to be living in a smaller residence five years from now. Moreover, 76 percent plan to live in either a same-sized (their current home or a new home of the same size) or larger home.

Myth 21: Most Boomers are married Empty Nesters

Most are actually not Empty Nesters. Only about one in four Boomers fit the profile of married with adult children who have left home. 37 percent of Boomers still have children under 18 in the home – and one-third of Boomers are single.

Myth 22: Boomers are winding down with age

They are actually quite active, as the typical Boomer regularly participates in an average of 10 activities and the participation extends beyond going to church or gardening. They are traveling (60 million took at least one trip last year), attending live sporting events (22 million) and bicycling (11 million), among other activities.

Myth 23: Boomers dream of a conventional retirement

The last of the myths about Baby Boomers, but it’s a big one. For the vast majority of Boomers, the idea of putting their feet up at 65 so they can spend their golden years playing golf is not part of the plan. Increasingly, Boomers are working well into their 60s and 70s. Sometimes, the reasons are financial but it’s also about continuing to contribute to the community.

To Learn More Myths about Baby Boomers, Talk to the Experts

Knowing these myths about Baby Boomers – and the truth – will help you when it comes to coming up with marketing ideas for Boomers. At Immersion Active, we can help you separate fact from fiction to come up with the best plans for your business. Contact us today to discuss the best ways to guide your company.

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