From Bumble to Instacart, the baby boomers have entered the chat.
The baby boomer generation’s online habits are, well…booming. From social media to online shopping, research shows that the pandemic has heightened the generation’s digital behaviors, creating long-lasting habits of which brands should take note.
They’re often overlooked by brands in the digital sphere, but this generation is turning to online tools, apps, and systems with increasing enthusiasm to stay connected and stocked. According to a Pew Research Center 2021 study, those aged 50-64 actually use Facebook more than the age groups just above or below them.
Baby boomers feel that social media has had a positive effect on their lives, and—perhaps surprisingly—are influencing and gaming with a fervor approaching that of their younger counterparts; according to an April 2021 report from GWI, the number of baby boomer gamers has grown 32% since 2018. And they’re not stopping there. Tapping into younger spaces, boomers are swiping right, embracing love and sex in their later years and openly breaking through traditionally taboo territory.
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Boomers are online shopping more and more. Consumers over the age of 65 are the fastest growing group of online shoppers, the Washington Post reported in January 2021, citing data from the NPD Group that revealed that the demographic spent 49% more online in 2020 than they did in 2019.
A February 2021 study found that 52% of baby boomers actually prefer to shop online rather than in-store during busy holiday seasons. And necessities such as groceries and home goods are only a fraction of boomers’s popular product buys; while millennials are buying hot tubs and home office supplies, baby boomers are making more regular, personal, or day-to-day purchases. Statistics show that boomer spending makes up 37.7% of all pet-related purchases, and 47% rely on Cyber Monday purchases for their holiday shopping.
A few brands have already picked up on the upward buying trend and are adapting their services to fit baby boomers’s needs. According to the Washington Post, ecommerce consumers over 65 are growing faster than any other category, and chains are investing in 24-hour customer service, instructional videos and delivery services to accommodate them. Platforms like Instacart are streamlining online shopping to make their experiences more accessible. Other brands including Walmart, Target, L.L. Bean, Lowes, and Blick Art Materials are bulking up their deliveries as well.
Baby boomers are embracing love and sex in their mature years. Relate, a relationship support platform in the UK, launched the Let’s Talk the Joy of Later Life Sex campaign in April 2021 to celebrate sex and intimacy for older adults.
Single baby boomers are even stepping into the online dating space, where they’re able to meet suitors of varying ages from around the world. Many find the plethora of matches and the control one has over who they match with on platforms like Bumble or Tinder appealing. In fact, Insider reported that 60% of Bumble female users over 40 had confidence that the app would lead to “the type of relationship they desire.”
AARP is embracing the “young boomers” that are Gen X in their “Wise Friend and Fierce Defender” campaign. Focused on preparing Gen X for their next phases in life, the April 2021 promotion features Gen Xers dancing on TikTok and skateboarding with kids, giving this adaptive older generation some spotlight.
Connecting and adapting to social media, baby boomers aren’t just scrolling through feeds: they’re providing the content. Streetwear and style icon Alojz Abram is making waves through his grandson’s website and “Grampstagram“, where his 1 million followers can “like” sponsored ‘fits and shop for merch. Alaska Airlines is taking 8-10 boomers on spring break with their AK Boomer House promotion, where the influencers will be invited to stay in a California hotel and create content for the airline’s media and social feeds.
Boomer women are influencing the social media world as well. Ilia, Hermès Beauty, Dior Parfums and other luxury beauty brands are turning to savvy baby boomers to promote their product lines on Instagram , and audiences of all ages are responding. Lynnie V (@whitehairwisdom) has been featured by Ilia and Sweaty Betty, and Grece Ghanem (@greceghanem) has worked with Dior Parfums and Club Monaco.
Finding comfort in online dating, social media, and shopping platforms, baby boomers have secured their presence on the internet. As boomers continue to carve out space online, brands who overlook this generation when creating virtual shopping experiences, platforms and communications do so at their own risk.
Main image courtesy of @graceghanem on Instagram.