OK Boomer: Why E-Retailers Should Pay Attention to This Demographic Post Pandemic

How to reach retirees with cash through the Covid-19 crisis

boomers on tech
Ecommerce players should extend a hand to boomers during the pandemic. Getty Images

While millennials and Gen Zers have been capturing marketers’ attention for their spending power, it would be wise to take a beat and diversify attention to invest in making stronger online connections with baby boomers right now. This demographic is 75 million strong in the U.S., and it controls a whopping 70% of America’s disposable income. What’s more, 84% of them would rather shop in-store, and 67% say they forgo ecommerce in favor of going to a nearby shop even after they find a desired item online with a buy button next to it.

But during this Covid crisis, boomers will need to order online at a much higher clip because they are not going into stores much until the economy fully reopens. This situation offers digital commerce players the chance to grab a bigger swath of this demographic’s patronage. Not to mention, this group is now retired and can spend their cash with less hesitation than younger adults.

What’s more, due to ongoing travel restrictions around Covid-19, an all-time high number of boomers are found in Zoom groups while videoconferencing with friends and family. In other words, they are online like never before. Here are five ways e-retail brands can reel in boomer’s purchases:

Know what’s important

Boomers may have money to spend, but they are also accustomed to being frugal. They are going to be looking for deals, cash back and other bargains online that make sense for their budgets. Of course, they still want to travel when life gets back to normal one day. So when ecommerce players look to buy ads, they need to zero in on platforms that keep boomers’ cash-saving perspective in mind while making those shoppers’ lives easier—all while enabling their retirement dreams to remain realistic.

It’s noteworthy that their mindset toward credit cards is different than other generations. For instance, millennials often reportedly consider their credit cards to represent social status and are generally selective about which cards they use. Conversely, boomers are known to carry around the most cards and seem credit-card-agnostic while redeeming their cash-back rewards.

Optimize for their mindset

While 75% of marketers question their ability to reach in-market consumers, some are still, ironically, throwing ad money at TV during Covid-19. We were already starting to live in a direct-to-consumer world in the past few years, and this crisis has just accelerated that reality. Even Pepsi is going DTC because brands need to appear online in marketing and advertising where shoppers actually have purchasing on their minds.

If Pepsi and other marketers develop digital ad copy to reflect boomers’ saving mindset, they will outperform those spray-and-play TV buyers. With digital ads, you can create dedicated landing pages that speak to their generation in a meaningful fashion. These tactics will not only increase conversion rates during the pandemic, but also arm your ecommerce team with learnings about what works versus what doesn’t work for boomers for more normal times ahead.

Be useful

A big key is helping boomers. For instance, Walmart, Target and Dollar Store have created “senior hours” for their stores in the morning so the elderly feel comfortable that they will be around their age group, which is going to be more conscientious about physical distancing than younger generations due to being more susceptible to the virus.

Those brands should use digital ad copy that not only makes boomers aware of the special hours but also cost-saving deals they can get digitally or in-store. And place your ads on platforms that boomers trust, which evidently isn’t Facebook or Twitter because their shopping habits are less influenced by social media than other generations.

Create trust

Boomers are big on privacy. In fact, only 15% of them accept privacy policies before reading them compared with 46% of 18- to 25-year-olds.

Therefore, retailers should go the extra mile to be transparent about how their data is collected, stored and used to improve their customer experience. Again, trust breeds loyalty, which is more important than ever right now with boomers.

Think education

Additionally, it is important to be more transparent about ideas that people who regularly shop online already understand, such as shipping timelines and return policies. There’s a lot of necessary education to be done all of a sudden. Consider everything from easy-to-find FAQs and infographics to quick, snackable videos laying out how ecommerce works.

In sum, ecommerce players should extend a hand to boomers during the pandemic in as many ways as possible. After all, their average order size is $203, compared with millennials’ $173. This is a significant opportunity, and—if you assist boomers now—these new customers will continue to purchase even after they can go into stores again. It’s all about helping them spend on the things they want and need while keeping cash in their physical and digital wallets for the better days ahead.

Ryan Wuerch is the founder and CEO of Dosh, a cashback app on a mission to democratize advertising while moving billions of dollars to millions of people.