Many marketers have been turning to younger, more tech-friendly generations, like Gen Z and Millenials, when assessing data and consumer behavior; yet, beyond the generational gap that creates what some may view as a technological divide, the Boomer generation makes up a healthy segment of active consumers who shouldn’t be overlooked. While there doesn’t need to be much said about the difference in attitudes toward technology between Boomers and younger generations, when it comes to reaching this group, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you foster long-term customer-brand relationships.
A generation that loves email
Unlike the digital natives that live and breathe on social platforms, Boomers, much differently, are a generation that grew up in a world with more traditional forms of communication like paper mail, newspaper advertisements and phone calls. With the digitization of the millennium, Boomers now happily gravitate mostly toward email — a form of communication that serves them the brand interactions they love in a comfortable and familiar way.
In fact, email remains the most common online purchase channel for this generation. According to Marigold’s 2023 U.S. Consumer Trends Index, 62% of Boomers have made a purchase from an email in the last year. No other purchase channel even cracks the 50% mark among Boomers — thus, making email marketing the most effective method for reaching the majority of this generation.
The importance of a well-rounded strategy
However, don’t totally rule out the possibility of utilizing other channels yet. While Boomers may not be the most digitally connected generation, their use of mobile devices is still quite considerable. Take into consideration that 50% of Boomers have made an in-app purchase, while 19% have purchased digital content via mobile. They are also using their devices in-store to assist them in making purchases that fit both their needs and budget. Indeed, nearly half of the surveyed population have used their mobile phone to research purchases, while 50% have browsed for products in-store but ultimately purchased online.
While fewer respond to SMS/MMS and social media posts and advertisements, the possibility to find engagement on those channels is not completely lacking. While this reach may not be breaking the 50% mark — notably, 25% of Boomers have made a purchase from a social media post in the last year, and 11% of Boomers have made a purchase from an SMS/MMS communication in that same time. While these channels may have not completely caught the attention of this older generation — as the omnichannel marketing experience becomes more ordinary, there’s reason to believe that their channel interests and responses may broaden in time.
Personalized experiences drive engagement
Regardless of channel, Boomers, like other generations, have a desire for personalized experiences. They want relevant content and offers that adequately address their needs — and they’re willing to share data about themselves to receive this personalization. Such personalization stands to be the heart of Relationship Marketing, allowing for a focus on creating long-term customer satisfaction. Therefore, in order for brands to truly make the most of their relationships with Boomers, they must do several key things to keep this generation loyal, interested, and trusting: brands must respect the data privacy of their customers, create worthwhile value exchanges, and prioritize zero-party data strategies.
Successful messaging entails collecting, understanding, and activating zero-party data throughout the entire messaging process. With the right tech stack, brands can easily personalize email, helping them build more robust relationships with their customers. Emails should reflect the unique interests of customers and include dynamic content that is simple to navigate.
The concern over data privacy
Importantly, as Boomers become more concerned about data privacy and security, brands are tasked with providing transparency to quell concerns, while simultaneously working to develop efficient marketing strategies. Unfortunately, the privacy consciousness of Boomers makes them cynical about a number of brand interactions. Sizable majorities of Boomers express discomfort with ads based on locational data, voice data, and third-party cookie tracking. This data suggests the importance for marketers to actively address and respect the privacy concerns of Boomers, best achieved by communicating how their data will be used, respecting boundaries, and providing opt-in/out options whenever possible.
Winning the Boomer generation
The brands committed to fostering better relationships and adding relevance, value and personalization to their messaging are the ones that consumers elevate to preferred status, and are those which are poised to see long-term benefits throughout the customer lifecycle. As the best way to reach this generation, email holds its own as the most scalable and cost-effective channel.
However, brands should not neglect the importance of a full-fledged mobile strategy — instead, marketers should think of mobile as a collection of touchpoints, including SMS, MMS, email, website, mobile app, etc., where they can enhance the customer experience and strengthen brand accessibility, no matter the generation.
To learn more about consumer trends among different generations and to get the latest consumer attitudes toward messaging and personalization, read Marigold’s full report of the 2023 U.S. Consumer Trends Index.