Baby boomers represent a tech savvy audience ready to spend.

baby boomers and technology

It’s understandable that millennials and Gen Z are the focus of digital marketing campaigns. These young and younger people were born into a tech-driven world. Baby boomers have become invisible to many brands that assume people born between 1946 and 1964 aren’t interested in technology or the latest innovations.

This thinking is just plain wrong. For many baby boomers, being online and staying up to date with technology isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. Still, many tech companies have largely ignored them. For digital marketers, this is an opportunity to create digital ads that resonate with a tech savvy audience ready to spend. The key is to take a straightforward, matter-of-fact approach to messaging and digital ads.

Baby boomers and technology

In 2020, Google partnered with Known, a market research firm, to conduct qualitative and quantitative research to understand the digital habits and behaviours of boomers and seniors. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 86 per cent of seniors who are online spend at least six hours a day there and own, on average, five devices.
  • 82 per cent of these “digital seniors” use their smartphone every day.
  • 91 per cent go online to connect with friends and family.
  • 87 per cent manage their finances online.
  • 73 per cent go online to improve their health and wellness.

Audience targeting company GWI also took a deep dive into boomers’ technology habits. Its research confirmed that, far from being technophobes, boomers love their smartphones, streaming and playing video games online as much as younger generations. In fact, the percentage of gamers aged 55-64 grew by 32 per cent in two years, making this group one of gaming’s fastest growing demographics.

Boomers’ digital savviness is only likely to grow. For digital marketers who haven’t already done so, now is the time to prioritize older consumers. Use data analytics to better understand this segment of your target audience, their needs and wants, and where they spend their time online.

Technology trends that will shape consumer behaviour

Census data from 2021 shows seniors over the age of 85 are among the fastest growing age groups in Canada. The number of people over 85 has more than doubled since the 2001 census and is expected to triple by 2046. At the same time, boomers remain the wealthiest generation, holding about half of all wealth in Canada and the United States. Boomers represent a massive market with a lot of spending power.

What types of technologies are they looking for?

  • Health and wellness apps to help manage medical appointments, purchase medication, monitor fitness and more.
  • Finance apps to manage their portfolios and banking.
  • Technology that will help them age at home.

Whatever the app, software or device, ease of use will be essential.

Digital marketing best practices

Show up where your audience is

Many boomers (82.3 per cent) use at least one social channel. They spend an average of 27 hours a week online and are more likely to share content than their younger counterparts.

Baby boomers’ favourite social channels are:

  • Facebook (78 per cent)
  • YouTube (67 per cent)
  • Pinterest (40 per cent)
  • Instagram (32 per cent)
  • LinkedIn (31 per cent)

Personalize targeted marketing campaigns to boomers

Send highly targeted ads to segmented audiences within this demographic to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Start by understanding these potential buyers. Learn about their interests, pain points, needs and wants.

91 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize them as individuals and provide relevant offers and recommendations. Personalization is especially important for boomers, who are used to being marketed to in this way and expect it.

Boomers love watching video online. One in three baby boomers use YouTube to learn about a product or service and 68 per cent turn to the platform for entertainment. Use the data you’ve collected about this target audience to create personalized videos that show the customer you are invested in helping them specifically.

Create relevant, longer form informational content

A lot has been written about the short attention spans of younger generations. Boomers are much more willing to invest time in learning about the products and services they are interested in. Create longer form articles, blogs and videos that provide relevant information and showcase features and reviews.

Tip: Authenticity trumps highly produced content for boomers. Keep content simple and straightforward, and make sure it speaks to boomers’ values.

Optimize campaigns for mobile

Nearly 70 per cent of boomers have a smartphone, and many use it as the primary way to go online. Not surprisingly, mobile advertising continues to grow. Insider Intelligence research predicts that U.S. mobile video ad spending will jump to US$24.81 billion this year – up from US$15.93 billion in 2019. Make sure your digital ads’ text, images, videos and post-click destinations are fully optimized for mobile. This includes fast load times and smooth navigation.

Many brands and their marketing teams have largely ignored baby boomers as a target audience, preferring to focus digital campaigns on millennials and Gen Z. This is a missed opportunity. Boomers are spending more and more time online and have greater spending power than their younger counterparts. Take the time to understand what they’re looking for and how to connect with them online.