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Weekly Furniture World Media Note #147 from Lance Hanish: Attracting Boomers.

Furniture World News Desk on 12/23/2015

In the U.S., people aged 50 and over control 70% of the nation’s disposable income, with a medium income of $60,580(1), and are spending $230 billion on consumer packaged goods annually(2). But despite Boomers’ spending strength, businesses are budgeting less than 10% of their marketing dollars on them(3). Overall, research shows marketers today are either speaking to Boomers ineffectively or ignoring them altogether, and the impact is so profound that Boomers themselves are taking notice.

In a recent survey(4), 83% of Boomers said brands are making some kind of mistake when trying to appeal to their age group. Even worse, over one-third (36%) said marketers “get it all wrong” when it comes to advertising to people ages 50 to 69. Half of those surveyed (47%) say companies use inaccurate stereotypes about people their age in advertising. Four in 10 Boomers (40%) agreed that companies simply don’t know what’s important to people their age.

Virtually every business should consider marketing directly to Boomers, and those who already are may want to consider a fresh approach. The value of consumer attention is at an all-time high, which makes getting it right all the more critical. Understanding the shifting of Boomer lifestyles is imperative for businesses looking to increase the effectiveness of their marketing and messaging dollars and grow their share in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
  • Half of the 50-and-over respondents to a survey(5) said they enjoyed gardening.

  • Eight in ten 50+ Americans say they ate away from home within the past 30 days and are beginning to trend toward fast-food restaurants rather than sit-down restaurants (84.8% versus 78.5%).

  • They enjoy attending events. In fact, 22% have attended a professional sporting event in the past month and 20% attended live theater. In general, they are spending less time at the casino than they have in previous years (32.8% in 2013 versus 36.5% in 2008).

  • More of them reported having gone swimming (22%), bicycling (18%), fishing (17%) and jogging/running (12%) in the past 12 months rather than golfing (11%).
They are also avid technology users, choosing to get their information, keep up with  family and friends and make purchases through a variety of mediums. Consider the following:
  • 92% of the 50+ spend time in front of their televisions each week(6). The most watched channels include the History Channel (34%), The Weather Channel (33%), Discovery Channel (30%) and ESPN (29%). This target demographic is the sweet spot for luxury cars, financial services (banks, credit card companies, insurers) and pharmaceuticals. Coincidently, these three categories are CBS’s largest ad categories(7). Why? CBS is THE demo winner year after year while the others are all chasing a younger audience. (NOTE: CBS has an average age viewership of almost 57, the oldest audience of the four largest broadcast networks, according to Nielsen. Fox is youngest, with a median age of 45, while NBC’s median is 50 and ABC’s is 52.)
  • Boomers are spending more time online (not including time at work) each week than even the Millennials(8). More than 50% of those ages 51 to 69 are online at least 15 hours a week, versus just 41% of respondents ages 18 to 33.
  • Younger Boomers, those ages 50 to 59, are the most technologically savvy. In fact, 68% of them own smartphones(9).
  • 20% of adults 50 to 59 say they use social media one or more hours a day and 69% say they access it on their phones.
Facebook has recently created a feature called Facebook Professional Services which enables consumers to search for information and reviews about local businesses(10). Why? More and more people 50+ are using Facebook with some 28 million (15.6%) 55+(11), an 84% growth in the past three years(12). (NOTE: 50-54 numbers are nondefined.) We do know this: 72% of online adults say they use Facebook (31% use
Pinterest; 28% use Instagram; 25% use LinkedIn and 23% use Twitter)(13). And we also know the following: 63% of adults 50-64 use Facebook while 56% of adults 65+ use Facebook and 72% of adults who make over $75,000 use Facebook(14).

So. What does this prove?

First, it proves that while everyone is attempting to key in on the Millennials, any voice outside of financial service, pharmaceutical and/or automotive, will be heard loud and clear. It also suggests that these people do have the money to spend if they know who you are, what you are offering and where you are located. In addition it suggest strongly that social media and mobile are keys in reaching them today.

According to a Influent50 White Paper (11.30.15), they have to be approached differently. Boomers want to have you speak directly to them, and not to another generation hoping that Boomers will take notice. 

They won’t because they don’t listen to a Millennial approach.

Forget about the high-pressure approach. Boomers live by the ‘when you buy cheap, you buy twice’ mentality. And here is where engagement comes into play. They do not approach a purchase in a hurry. They will do their research but they will splurge when all of the prerequisites are met. Remember, they dislike feeling pressured to make a purchase.

It is the mark of the Boomer that you have to respect them as intelligent consumers. They respond best to advertising campaigns targeted to their specific wants, needs and lifestyle. An intelligent conversation tends to attract them to a brand, a retailer, a company. Boomers want to be respected as intelligent consumers before they spend money on a product.

Finally, adapting a strategy appropriately is necessary to achieving the best possible results. In particular, advertising that focuses on connecting with Boomers at an emotional level, that offers a product or service that will increase each user’s freedom and autonomy and help them connect with their loved ones, is most likely to succeed. 

Boomers are very much unlike their parents. Remember, they came from a different time and place. Boomers are ready and willing to spend. They will spend more for quality and convenience, but they want to be respected as intelligent consumers and spoken to accordingly. They do not respond to price & item and false alarm ‘sale ends now’. They know it is not true and that makes the advertiser appear greedy and false themselves.

They are ready to pay you for your product and services. Are you willing to reach them via social media and mobile?

We live in a world of putting PEOPLEFirst. We are living in a digital/mobile age where MOBILEFirst™ is the key to your Integrated Marketing strategy for 2016.


  1. Median Household Incomes by Age Bracket: 1967-2014 September 17, 2015 by Dough Short

  2. “Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation,” The Nielsen Company & BoomAgers LLC, 2012.

  3. “Boomers: Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation,” The Nielsen Company & BoomAgers LLC, 2012.

  4. “Are You Talking to Me? Influent50 Omnibus for Ages 50+,” Influent50 & ORC International’s Generational Online CARAVAN Omnibus, 2015.

  5. “Getting to Know Americans Age 50+,” AARP Research 2014.

  6. “Getting to Know Americans Age 50+,” AARP Research 2014.

  7.  “CBS, Derided for Its Older Viewers, Calls 54 the New 49” BloombergBusiness August 29 2012 by Andy Fixmer

  8. “The State of the User Experience,” Limelight Networks Inc., 2015.

  9. “AARP Attitude, Trend & Opinion Monitor,” AARP Research, 2015.

  10. Facebook quietly launches desktop-only Yelp competitor Mashable 12.16.15 by Chris Perkins

  11. Social Media User Statistics & Age Demographics for 2014 Jetscram 10.20.14

  12. “3 Million Teens Leave Facebook in 3 Years: 2014 Facebook Demographic Report” posted in Strategy, Aside by DJ Saul 01.15.14

  13. Social Media 2015 PewResearchCenter 08.19.15 by Maeve Duggan

  14. “Social Media Demographic Segmentation Strategy” by Michael Patterson 05.04.15

MOBILEFirst is a trademark of CNA|SOPHIS Integrated Marketing Innovation 2016

For more information regarding Integrated Marketing Innovations, read Media Notes Canonical at http://www.cnasophis.com.

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Lance Hanish is Co-Founding Partner in CNA | Sophis Integrated Marketing Communications. 

He can be reached at:
On Google+ LBC Advertising
On Linkedin Lance Hanish

Lance Hanish; Lance Hanish http://pinterest.com/sophis1234/

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