Baby boomers, who are currently between the ages of 48 and 66, do not go out shopping as much as they used to, explains Steven Stovall, Ph.D., professor of management at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio. For some, this may be due to physical limitations, while for others, finances are the issue. “The recent recession affected the buying capacities of some baby boomers,” says Stovall.
What is interesting about baby boomers is that “there is a discrepancy between the boomer’s mind and body,” says Phil Goodman, president and CEO of Genergraphics in Carlsbad, California. “They know that growing old—aging—is inevitable, but growing up is optional.” They are trying their best to hold onto their youth, especially with respect to their appearance.
Boomer women, in particular, are focused on looking and staying younger. This generation has been plastic-surgery pioneers, going to great pains to hold onto their youthful appearance. “If you look at the boomer woman, for example, you’ve never seen a 60-year-old woman in better shape, on average. She is more into her looks, her well-being, her health,” says Goodman. This attitude is not expected to change either, even as the boomer woman ages; she will always want to look and feel younger than her numerical age.
What is of greatest importance to boomer shoppers, however, is quality and value. They don’t want to waste their time or money on products that won’t perform, or that won’t perform as well as competing products. They are willing to pay more for performance and are not overly brand loyal.
They also want something different in terms of their shopping experience or the products they buy, says Stovall. They are “cautiously curious,” meaning they are somewhat bored with the same old, same old, but are not adventuresome enough to break out of their habits unless given a reason.
What this means for you, the retailer, is that boomers appreciate being educated about quality and about new products. Take the time to introduce them to new offerings and explain why it is a better choice than what they have been using. Communication is important with this group, but don’t bombard them with emails—online messages rarely hit the mark unless boomers are techno-savvy, and not all are.
Better tools include shelf talkers, as well as personal attention and direct mail at home. Great customer service will help make boomers customers for life.