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Young Punk Online Marketers Are Ignoring Baby Boomers


Boomers have had a tsunami impact on every stage of their lives. Consumption trends have had the greatest impact. From colleges, to home ownership, to luxury autos, to all things technology. If they’re into it, “IT” becomes a big deal.

A new report by eMarketer titled, “Digital Lives of Boomers: Reaching Them Online”, reveals some startling trends in online marketing to boomers. “The baby boomers grew up being chased by marketers and advertisers that tailored products and brands to appeal to them,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report. “Now the median age of this cohort is 55, and many boomers feel as if they have dropped off many marketers’ radar.”

eMarketer estimates 78.2% of boomers are online, nearly 60 million adults. Even as their numbers decline, that penetration rate will remain high through 2015. And they control more than $2 trillion in annual spending.

Boomers spend more time and money online than any other demographic. Younger boomers (ages 47 to 55) spent an average of 39.3 hours online per month in 2010, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Older boomers (ages 56 to 65) averaged only slightly less, at 36.5 hours. A lot of that time was spent shopping—and buying. Forrester Research reported that boomers spent an average of about $650 online over a three-month period in 2010, compared with $581 by Generation X internet users (ages 35 to 46) and $429 by millennials (ages 18 to 34).

“Boomers are immediately turned off by association with old age, infirmity and decline,” said Phillips. “Most brands do not want to ‘age’ their products with blatant appeals to older consumers. The win-win is to create an overarching brand message that gives a nod to boomers, but also includes younger adults and even grandchildren.”

So why are these 30-something online marketers ignoring this powerful group? I can only speculate but I think it’s because they’ve not experienced first-hand the undeniable power of boomer consumers. They see boomers like they view the iPad. Now that there’s an iPad 2, the iPad is old news, outdated and irrelevant.

Too bad for the young punks – they’ll be basking in their leading edge coolness while the brands successfully embracing boomers’ tastes and needs online (including mobile) will win!

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