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Silver Surfers Offer Golden Opportunity for Savvy Businesses

March 5th, 2013 by

In just four short years, 50% of the U.S. population will be 50 years old or older, yet many businesses overlook this staggering demographic as they develop their business plans and craft content marketing solutions. Why? It’s almost always because of two very common myths about this segment of the population which includes the so-called Baby Boomers – the roughly 80 million men and women born between 1946 and 1964.

  • Myth 1: Older consumers don’t use technology to make purchases or research purchasing decisions.

Mythbuster: According to a recent report by The Nielsen Company and marketing group BoomAgers, Boomers comprise of one-third of all online users and social media users, and a full 33% of all Boomers characterize themselves as heavy users of the Internet. That’s about 29 million people! Seniors are also more brand-loyal than younger people. A report by global research and advisory firm Forrester shows that 63% of online seniors report remaining with a brand they like, compared with 53% of all online adults who say they’re brand loyal.

  • Myth 2: Younger consumers have most of the purchasing power today.

Mythbuster: In fact, the Nielsen data shows that in the next four years, Boomers are predicted to control nearly three-quarters of all the disposable income in the United States. When they retire, almost 70% of Boomers say they’ll spend more time – and more cash – on their hobbies.

Other tidbits from the Nielsen report:

  • About one-third of Boomers shop online each year, spending almost $7 billion in purchases.
  • Boomers are plugged in. They comprise about 40% of wireless service customers and 41% of them buy Apple computers.
  • Boomers’ use of social networking nearly doubled in 2011 to 42%. 53% of Boomers are on Facebook, and even older seniors frequently use the Internet for email, social networking and shopping.

And yet …

  • Despite all this, less than 5% of advertising dollars are targeted to adults 35 to 64 years of age.

Those are some pretty sobering statistics to companies whose marketing approach to older consumers is less than robust.

There is one more common bias that keeps many marketing teams from targeting older consumers. Although older consumers may have more money than younger consumers, they’re far less likely to actually spend what they have. While that may have been true of other generations, once again, Boomers are the exception to the rule. Why? Well, it could be because Boomers were born during one of the country’s most prosperous time periods, when getting and having were pretty much part of daily living. That value system has remained with them, at least in part, throughout their lives.

Another potential influence: Good old television. For Boomers who grew up glued to the tube, marketing is just part of the normal noise of their lives. As a result, they tend to be more open to receiving the messages marketers are sending their way, and they’re also more open to technology.

So what’s the overall take-home message from all this?

Simple: Businesses that want to earn green need to market to silver. And that’s a lesson in color theory that every savvy marketer should take to heart.

Karen Z is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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