by William Smith, AmericasMart Magazine, July 2011
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past couple of years, you’ve heard the flap about “Baby Boomers” taking over the U S market. Since you’re in business to make money and grow, you should give this boomer thing a serious look.
First, let’s review the facts:
Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. That represents over 77 million people in the U S. Consumers 50+ years old earn about $2 trillion annually and represent 50% of all discretionary spending.
So, what does this mean to you the independent retailer?
It means –Opportunity—
Boomers As Customers:
Most boomers are savvy, style conscious customers who expect quality goods and services that will help them lead the active lifestyle they want for themselves. The majority of boomers are, or will soon be, “empty nesters” which means they are re-evaluating their lifestyles. Many are downsizing, relocating and concentrating on what’s next. Out with the old, in with the new.
According to market research firm Symphony IRI, boomers with longer life expectancy and lower savings rates than previous seniors are projected to spend an additional $50 billion over the next decade. Rather than passing on the wealth to future generations through inheritance, they are expected to splurge mostly on themselves and their children as they move households and pursue active lifestyles.
To accommodate their best customer’s needs, many larger American companies are overhauling product lines, changing their marketing and redesigning store layouts specifically with boomers in mind.
Boomers, who like convenience and quality, tend to be loyal repeat customers when the store experience meets their expectations. They will also take advantage of additional services that younger customers may not want to pay for such as; personal shoppers, interior designers, delivery and setup of purchases, or packing and shipping.
Boomers are out there and ready to spend. The question is, how do you get them into your store and onto your website?
Marketing to Boomers:
A search of “baby boomers” on the web reveals more information and connections to a specific customer base than any generational group in existence. If you are marketing on, or thinking about marketing on the net, there’s your next target market.
Over 60% of boomers actively consume socially created content like blogs, videos, pod casts and forums. The numbers of websites and blogs are staggering and growing daily. Boomers love to blog about experiences they feel would be of benefit to other boomers and “great shopping experiences” is a topic of serious interest to the group. Being a part of this communication can be a huge source of new customers for a retailer who recognizes the marketing potential.
Retailers- simply search “baby boomers” in your area and have at it. Just remember, boomers are an experienced, knowledgeable lot and will not cotton to gratuitous come-ons that are of no benefit to them.
If you are still dubious about marketing to boomers, here’s one more bit of statistical info you will find interesting:
The fastest growing market segment on the internet is women 55 and over.
Boomers as employees:
Finding and keeping quality staff continues to be a sticking point for most retailers.
Here’s a tip for you. Boomers don’t think or act like old people. The vast majority are savvy, style conscious adults who bring a vastly superior work ethic and experience base compared to the younger, job-hopping workforce. Unfortunately many employers still stereotype older workers in negative ways. The Wharton School’s Center for Human Resources has been examining several of these stereotypical “myths” and has come up with some interesting results. For example, studies show that older workers use fewer sick days on a whole than their younger counterparts. Peter Cappelli at Wharton says when it comes to job performance older workers frequently outdo their younger colleagues. Older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills and deal better with customers. “The evidence is unbelievably huge,” he notes. “Basically, older workers perform better on just about everything.”
Since many boomers want to continue working, but value their personal time, they make great part time employees. A stable of part time boomer employees is great when an employee calls in sick or when a special promotion requires extra help. Since many boomer family responsibilities are reduced they are more able to be flexible with work schedules.
Here’s the bottom line:
The Baby Boomer Generation is a reality. They are spending their money, they are on the net, and they want to keep working.
It’s your business. It’s your money. You get to call the signals for your business. The boomers are ready to play. This is one game you do not want to ignore.
So, how’s it going at your store?