Selling to Baby Boomers

Written By:
Laura M. Cable
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As more and more baby boomers pass the 50th birthday landmark, this consumer-base deserves a second look. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age, which means they will have more time on their hands and more money to spend. In fact, according to www.businessweek.com, the current population between the ages of 60 and 70 has the annual spending power of about $1 trillion.

Whether it is through tweaking your store’s layout or marketing techniques, making a few adjustments can help you attract this dynamic group of shoppers.

Store layout. As age becomes a factor in the daily routines of baby boomers, try creating well-lit, friendly atmospheres that provide wide aisles and easy-to-reach shelving. Also, increase the font size on your own product labels and store displays whenever possible, and when it is not possible, provide magnifying glasses in aisles. Make sure that doors are easy to open, floors are not slippery and, when applicable, seating is higher and firmer.

Another tip is to provide smaller portions of products since baby boomers’ children are leaving the nest and there may only be one or two people to feed at home. These small changes help express to your baby boomer customers that you are sensitive to their needs without sending the message that you think they are over the hill.

Health and fitness. The baby boomer generation is far more active than their parents were due to improved medical technology and general health. They are also very aware of their own nutrition and fitness routines as they attempt to ward off the effects of aging and continue to lead very active lives. In fact, for many baby boomers, reaching 50, retiring from work and helping their children off into the world means a second life, complete with new adventures, experiences and sometimes, new careers. Therefore, baby boomers are and will continue to be interested in products that will help them keep up this dynamic lifestyle and combat common ailments that may slow them down. Some examples of great target categories for these products include joint health, heart health, age support and skin, hair and nail support. Taking the time to highlight and explain the benefits of products that can enhance their already active lives can help attract baby boomers to new products and brands in your store.

Changing your marketing message. Regardless of the intended consumer of a product, most ads feature young models that baby boomers would have a hard time relating to due to the age difference. However, Dove’s new marketing campaign challenged this notion by altering its advertisements to appeal to the baby boomer generation by creating ads with 50-somethings instead of 20-somethings. This decision spoke to a larger, emerging advertising trend that enables baby boomers to see their generation representing the products they are interested in buying.

Take a look at how you advertise your store, and consider what a baby boomer may see reflected in the images presented. Could your baby boomer consumers find your advertisements alienating? As such a prominent generation, baby boomers are accustomed to being targeted by marketers and as their influence in the market only increases, they deserve special treatment. It is true what they say: age is just a number and the baby boomer generation is out to prove it. WF

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2012