Don't Forget The Boomers' Bucks!

According to a new Neustar survey, conducted with the e-tailing group with 50% male and 50% female shoppers who spent at least $250 online, purchased online at least four times annually, and owned smartphones, the biggest differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers are in the following online behaviors:

Expected Online Behaviors of Smartphone Users (By Age)



Age 18-35

Age 55+

Research products online




Purchase products online




View retail ads on a mobile device




Use social media on a mobile device




Access mobile coupons to redeem in retail store




Source: MarketingSherpa/Neustar

Recent research shows that mobile email opens have surpassed desktop opens for the first time, says the report. Smartphone purchases will also soon surpass desktop purchases, says the report,with 49.3% of conversions taking place on smartphones now. And it’s not just Millennials who are driving this trend. According to the report, shoppers over 55 years of age reported that they plan to click on more mobile ads and shop more on mobile devices this year.

While all age groups are expected to increase their mobile activity, there are still some stark differences in how Millennials use smartphones, according to the report:

  • Shoppers ages 18 to 25 are 2.5 times more likely to view retail advertising on a mobile device; 24% versus 10% for shoppers 55 and up
  • Millennials are three times more likely to use social media on a mobile device than Baby Boomers; 33% versus 11%
  • 54% of Millennials say that their mobile device is the most important shopping research tool versus 31% for desktop, 8% for television and 7% for print

While both Millennials and Baby Boomers use smartphones to research products, Millennials are much more likely to rely on social influence and digital word-of-mouth, says the report:

  • 46% of Millennials surveyed said social media ads are extremely/somewhat influential in getting them to begin researching a product/retailer
  • 33% of Millennials spend over 11 hours per week using social media on mobile devices
  • 59% say social media advertising prompts them to begin researching a product or retailer
  • 52% say social media advertising influences their decision to purchase a product

Brad Jefferson, CEO and Co-founder, Animoto, pointed out that “… the study found that 76% of Milliennials follow companies or brands on YouTube… 84% follow brands on Facebook… nearly half follow brands on Twitter… building a marketing strategy with a social focus is incredibly effective when targeting this audience… especially… to foster sharing and engagement… "

There has definitely been more media hype and recent research geared towards Millennials than Boomers. According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, Millennials are the largest demographic generation in the U.S. with 75.3 million people. Ever-changing technology has also impacted how Millennials shop and interact with brands.

However, evolving technology has changed Boomer shopping behavior as well. Boomers still account for the majority of American wealth; 70% of the nation’s disposable income comes from this demographic. Baby Boomers also account for $230 billion in sales of consumer packaged goods, according to a 2012 study from Nielsen.

32% of Americans ages 55 and up research products online with smartphones. According to recent MarketingSherpa research, Americans aged 55-64 prefer to communicate with companies through email more than any other channel.

Lisa Joy Rosner, Chief Marketing Officer, Neusta, concludes that "… boomers may not be digital natives… but as digital immigrants they certainly don’t shy away from embracing ecommerce and online offers… “

According to the Neustar study, 75% of Millennials and 78% of Boomers report having been moved to begin researching a product or specific retailer by in-store visits to a retailer, with promotions (coupons/discounts) as a close second with 73% of Millennials and 76% of Boomers.

Mobile is not the only device used to begin a consumer's product search. 67% of Millennials and 64% of Boomers admit television and radio started their search, and 58% of Millennials, and 59% of Boomers, said newspapers/magazines were instrumental in starting their search. Also, more than half of Millennials (51%) and Boomers (57%) said direct mail/print catalogs/circulars started their search.

The report says that Boomers rely on online research before making purchases and marketers can use this information to design marketing tactics, such as PPC and SEO, to engage with consumers at the right time in their purchasing journey.

Rosner concludes that "…  marketers aren’t reaching out to Boomers enough on digital platforms… as much as to other demographics… Boomers aren’t blind to the efficiencies of digital channels… (they) just need to engage with Boomers in a way that resonates… “

For more information, please visit MarketingSherpa here.

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