As boomers retire, they become digital marketers’ “most valuable generation”

By October 18, 2012
a baby-boomer couple with their smartphones

Disposable income and more time to shop online could influence future marketing strategies. With high connection levels and social media usage, Baby Boomers are bringing their tech consuming habits to the mainstream.


While not known to be early adopters, Baby Boomers are friendly to technology and are major drivers of new products once they hit the mainstream. As this generation begins to leave the workforce, they will have more of an influence within online culture and commerce with that lifestyle change. With control of 70 percent of the disposable income in the US, and the potential to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years, this section of the population is valuable for marketers, as was found in a recent Nielsen study. The Nielsen Boomers Report refers to these folks as “Marketing’s most valuable generation,” and dubs them “MVGs” throughout the study.

An ageing population will rewrite our current marketing common practices

At 80 million consumers and one-third of the population, Boomers rewrite standard marketing strategy - while they have surpassed the 18-49 ideal target audience age group, this generation has too much numerical clout for brands to refocus on younger consumers at the expense of MVGs. The Boomers are the generation that is fueling the US’s ageing population, and by 2017 the over 50 crowd will account for half of all Americans. While younger consumers form the bulk of early adopters, it is the Boomers’ adoption that drives real growth. They represent one-third of the online population, one-third of social media users, and one-third of Boomers say they are heavy users of the Internet.

Adoption by Boomers effectively brings tech consumption into the mainstream

In addition to being online and consistently so, Baby Boomers are characterized by more specific behaviors that position themselves as a valuable target demographic. A third of Boomers shop online, and consumers over 50 spend nearly $7 billion through this channel. They are particularly active on travel sites, but a sub-segment dubbed the “Techno Boomers” participates consistently in tech, smartphones and social media. With iPhone ownership levels the same as Generation X, they are above average in business-related social sites while less active in other niche categories such as streaming media or Foursquare. Young generations might not be the only source of interest to marketers, after all. 

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