According to recent statistics, consumers in the Baby Boomer generation (age 55 and up) spend more than 21 hours across an average of 22 different apps per month. Boomers also spend a minimum of 4.4 hours on average per week using their smartphones.
While mobile technology is frequently associated with younger demographics like Millennials and Gen X’ers, facts like these illustrate how mobile plays a significant role in the lives of Baby Boomers as well.
With that being said, Baby Boomers interact with mobile devices and technology in much different ways than other demographics. In order to reach Boomers effectively, smart marketers will need to know how mobile is impacting the baby boomer consumer in order to tailor their mobile strategies accordingly.
Below are some of the unique ways that Baby Boomers interact with mobile technology, and what marketers can do to engage them effectively.
1. Genders Use Mobile Differently
It’s important to note that within the Boomer demographic, males and females have different usage patterns when it comes to mobile. According to author and Boomer expert Lori Bittner, women tend to be more attached to their tablets for reading books or browsing online. They also appreciate the portability of tablets, as it’s something that can easily fit in a purse. On the flip side, Mrs. Bitter notes that Boomer women lag behind men in adoption and usage of smartphones. Retail e-commerce marketers, for example, will want to make sure that the webpages of women’s items are optimized — ideally responsive — for view. Every webpage should be responsive for all devices, but if your goal is to reach Boomers then you’ll want to double check based on their gender preferences.
2. Boomers Aren't in Love with Mobile Ads
A March 2015 poll by Experian found that 3.4% of Baby Boomers said they often used a mobile device to look for local deals while they were out shopping. Compare that to almost 30% for the Millennial and Gen X demographics for the same question. Fewer than 8% of Boomers in the poll said they were likely to purchase products advertised on their mobile phones, with only 5.2% saying they were interested in receiving any mobile ads at all. Remember that Boomers were raised in an age of TV and print ads, so in order to be effective on mobile you need to be as subtle and non-invasive as possible.
3. Boomers Are Social on Mobile
Recent research has found that 91% of Baby Boomers belong to at least one social media network, with the top two being Facebook and Pinterest. Another report by eMarketer shows that 1 in 5 Boomers are active on social media, with 1 in 10 saying they’re more likely to purchase a product they’ve seen recommended on social media. According to Mrs. Bittner, female Boomers are also one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook and Pinterest. They do spend money on mobile and internet purchases, but not just on themselves. Buying items for their peers, children, grandchildren and extended family gives Boomers purchasing power across multiple generations. Boomers might be a bit late to the social media landscape compared to Millennials, but they are steadily (and very selectively) adopting it.
4. Boomers Care for Their Devices
A new study by Verizon and KRC Research tells us that 49% of all U.S. mobile phone owners have either lost or broken one of their phones. But with age usually comes a greater sense of responsibility for one's property, and mobile devices are no exception. The same study found that 27% of Baby Boomers have lost or broken their mobile phone at least once, compared 58% of Gen X’ers and two-thirds of Millennials. And while Millennials drop their phones an average of four times per week, Boomers only drop theirs twice. The important thing for marketers to remember is that mobile hardware isn’t as “disposable” to Boomers as it is to younger generations, so neither should your mobile marketing. Random pop-up ads or in-app purchases that work for teens aren’t likely to have much effect on Boomers.
These are just a few of the unique ways that Baby Boomers are engaging with mobile devices differently than other generations. And the Boomer demographic is only going to become more important to marketers in the near future. It’s predicted that by 2019, 76% of all Boomers (around 48 million people), will be mobile device users. By knowing how baby boomers use mobile devices and what their habits are, smart marketers will be able to position their branding appropriately.