Purchase Behavior of Baby Boomers

Posted on Mon Aug 6, 2018.

Last week Imprint Engine’s blog focused on the purchase behavior of Generation X. Baby boomers are a whole different demographic than what we have covered in the past, however, with the recent rise in their smartphone usage it is also trending toward the purchases we see in other generations.

Consumer Insights of Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomers’ age range is typically more concrete than the other generations we have talked about in the past few weeks. The date ranges given are the early 1940s to the early 1960s. Unlike the past couple of ages we spoke about, Baby Boomers is the only moniker of this generation.

Many boomers grew up with a mother who stayed at home and was the domestic manager of the household. The generation helped push this tradition to the wayside, with women breaking into the educated professionals’ world. This was the start of widespread education for women as well, as women became half if not more of the college educated in the US.

With these two income households taking effect during the 1980s we saw a huge housing bubble created for this generation. Interest rates were sky high but their new found riches allowed them to purchase these inflated homes. They ended up being one of the wealthiest generations to this point, as inflation caught up to the growing wealth, leaving Generation X, Millenials, and Generation Z in a downward slump.

Like Gen X, Baby Boomers are swayed by a logical approach. Due to their purchases typically being larger they are likely to prefer brand names that represent quality to them. Growing up as one of the first generations to have TV in the home they get their behavior from older commercials that may have shaped their preferences.

It is more difficult for new companies to gain consumers from this demographic due to these brand loyalties that have developed. This is why established brands like Coca-Cola and Campbell’s perform well in this age group.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, as there are many niche markets that have not been claimed yet. This generation is also open to suggestion from their children who can range from Gen Xers to Generation Z. They may adopt some of the behaviors of these generations based upon the word they receive from them. The most notable industry we see this is in digital and technology-based services and products.

For instance, my mother only adopted Facebook after I told her she could use it to reconnect with friends from high school and college. She then adopted digital applications like Candy Crush because of my usage. Which segued into purchasing an iPhone, which was suggested by both her children to get photos of her new nephew.

The entrepreneurial spirit is also thriving in the Baby Boomer generation. They have seen the trend of the shunning of the typical 9-5 that younger generations have started to adopt, and have created companies that instill these values as well during their retirement years. Their ventures tend to be more product based, but they have also broken into the digital sphere.

They are also more likely to be angel investors in new startups or products they truly believe in. There is always a market for a niche product that helps solve a problem and Baby Boomers see the value in investing in these products and services.

Adoption of the internet recreationally has been slower in this generation than any of the others we covered. In my experience, my parents did not use the internet anywhere near as much as my sister and me until the large scale introduction of web-based games. However, with these web games and web pages came pop-up ads and banner ads, giving rise to E-commerce.

Due to the massive security breaches at the start of the E-Commerce boom, Boomers were hesitant to purchase online after the newer security measures went into effect. Adoption of E-commerce slowly gained popularity in their age group and now is about on par with retail purchasing, it may even be higher due to its convenience.

Like Gen X they are more likely to shop in store for purchases such as clothing, groceries, and electronics, wanting the input of a knowledgeable staff member to guide them through purchases they don’t have expertise on.

The usage of mobile apps is trending upwards at a slow rate. Not every Baby Boomer has a smartphone, however, the purchase behavior is gaining traction as mobile becomes the increasingly easiest way to receive news and information.

This generation typically views the news both in standard TV format, on the radio, or on the internet.  This generation’s views on politics and social issues are more likely to be conservative as we saw in the last election.

Searching for their preferred political stance on the internet has lead to the reading of biased news like many of the other generations. Confirmation bias based upon their news gathering tendencies is very common.

Baby Boomers seem to prefer products that are practical and exude quality. They are firmly established in their careers, and may even be retired, leading them to purchase quality items like furniture, remodeling, bridge brand clothing (Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Nautica), and recreational equipment. They read reviews thoroughly before making purchases and rely on word of mouth for the biggest purchases.

Travel is also a huge market for Boomers, as they retire they have more time to take trips to the places they have always dreamed of. These dream vacations are also high in price due to the larger incomes they possessed before retirement.

Consuming a large majority of their tv and movies through traditional cable and satellite providers, they have also started using internet streaming services. Reaching large amounts of Boomers can still be accomplished through primetime TV.

When marketing to Baby Boomers keeping the message somewhat conservative and traditional is going to appeal to them. Having an ad that “swears” or is lascivious in nature will likely turn them off. Focus your marketing on places they gather, such as network TV, News Outlets, and within their local market.

If you are interested in reaching Baby Boomers through a comprehensive branding strategy, please Contact Us. For more information on the services we can provide, visit Our Services.


If you are looking to market to any of the younger generations please visit our past blogs:

Purchase Behavior of Generation Z

Purchase Behavior of Millennials

Purchase Behavior of Gen X

Great products come & go. Great experiences live on.