Baby Boomer and older customers are the single largest economic group in America, with annual spending power of more than $2 Trillion. But be careful what you call them. Euphemisms like “elder,” “of a certain age” or “senior” may not go over well. Many may become more than a little upset with being labeled. After all, they aren’t simply writing a new chapter of their lives, they’re writing a brand new book — and each book is different.
Although all of us have basic human values and motivators that drive us, we manifest them differently as we move through the spring, summer, fall and winter of life. Selling to boomer and older customers is different primarily because of this shift in values. Our need for an identity, relationships, purpose, gaining knowledge and growth, rejuvenation and recreation are always with us, but we manifest them differently as we grow older. In addition, during our journey we focus more on having meaningful experiences, rather than gaining material goods.
Emotions Drive the Purchase Decision
Because emotions drive the purchase decision, as important as it is to understand what boomer and older customers think, it’s even more important to understand how they think before you develop your ads’ style, tone and messages. Focusing entirely on product features and benefits often results in a losing strategy. Research has shown that customers’ final decisions are not the direct product of the reasoning process. Emotions drive boomer and older customers in their purchase decisions. The reasoning process will confirm their decision, but it doesn’t start there.
Your messages should resonate with the values and motivators of Boomer and older customers. For example:
Anecdotes work well
When communicating with these markets, storytelling works well, since today’s customer universe is more age-weighted toward mid-life values and there is a definite resistance to neutral information (product-related features). Whoever tells the best story wins! Go with the grain of the brain and integrate your data into an emotional matrix to satisfy the customer’s need and gauge the potential emotional and experiential quality of the relationship before talking about the product’s benefits and features.
Honesty is the best policy
Don’t overstress a sense of urgency when selling to boomer and older customers. “Buy it today or you won’t get the discount,” doesn’t motivate them to action because they know they likely will know they can go elsewhere. They have plenty of choices and options, they don’t need you; you need them.
Challenge your current online marketing approach and gain a better understanding of the physical as well as behavioral changes of boomer and older customers. Remember that as we age, we can’t hear, or taste or see as well, and if your marketing approach isn’t user-friendly to these customers; you’re often wasting your time.
Be vulnerable, honest and open about who you really are. The more honest you are, the better your chances are of developing a good solid bond in the relationship. Show empathy, not sympathy. What motivates boomer and older customers in later life are experiences that improve control, lead to maintaining independence, developing or improving relationships, giving back to communities, opportunities to share wisdom and opportunities to recreate and sooth the soul.