A casual search for the term “Boomer” on Google News pulls up these headlines:
Elderly in U.S. projected to outnumber children for first time
Is cannabis the answer to older people’s booze problems?
That tells you a lot about the future, and the stereotypes we live under.
The first headline is probably accurate, and the second one should be approached with caution. Most Boomers do not have alcohol problems — nor do most millennials.
It pays to delve a little deeper if you’re planning an email marketing campaign. Here are four myths to keep in mind when targeting Baby Boomers:
1. They like snail mail more than email — That’s false news. A study by Adestra last year showed that email is the chosen method for getting communications from business for 78.8% of Boomers and 77.8% of millennials. That said, Boomers are more concerned about privacy than younger people: They’re more likely to read the fine print about apps. Many have second email addresses for marketing communications — only teens are more likely to have them. Oh, yes, there’s one other big difference: Boomers like to have coffee before checking their email in the morning — millennials get to it even before that.
2. They’re All Luddites — Another libel. Almost all Boomers have smartphones, although they use them mostly for phone calls, Adestra reports. Even assuming that some Boomers are entering what Gore Vidal called “the hospital years,” they need new technologies, starting with the Internet of Things. For instance, adult children can now keep track of their parents who insist on aging in place with the help of apps, GPS tracking insoles, door alarms, medication dispensers with alerts and Google Calendar. B-Shoes Technologies, a company based in Israel, offers a shoe that senses and corrects imbalance, using software and a mini treadmill-like system.
3. They’re ready to pack it in — Some Boomers need to work, while others simply feel they must. And there is plenty of work for them to do, especially in the gig economy. Andrew Schwedel, a partner in Bain & Company’s New York Office, tells MarketWatch: “If you’re well-educated, and high-income, you will probably manage to keep working into your 70s if you want.” That said, there are also many service and other jobs that require different skills. Ultra Machining Co., a manufacturing firm, has trouble finding experienced workers. So it has employees in their 70s running robots, lathes and drills.
4. They’re all refugees from the Woodstock Nation — Hardly true. Millions served in Vietnam or other service billets (there was a draft, remember?). Some protested. Many did neither. The first Boomers were born in 1946, one year after the death of FDR: They were raised in the shadow of the Holocaust and Hiroshima. The youngest Boomers were born in 1964, the year after the Kennedy assassination, and grew up in the era of Watergate and Donna Summer. What do they have in common with the older cohort?
Granted, it is just as hard to generalize about millennials. And businesses must make some concessions to reality. For example, certain restaurants in Japan are pureeing food for people age 65 and older so that it is easier for them to eat.