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How Baby Boomers Shop

A collation of insights into how baby boomers shop

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After reading all the post for this challenge, I decided to investigate how baby boomers shop. 

Baker Center and NPD conducted research by analyzing the receipts of millennials, generation x and baby boomers. Here is what they found out about how 'boomers'shop:

"The boomers were focused more on multichannel retailers, especially department stores — traditional retailers that eventually moved online and now have multichannel operations. You see them favoring a lot of department stores, but also Costco, Home Depot and Lowe’s. Because again, it’s reflecting their life stage. However, another finding with boomers was that they are over-indexing on QVC. That … was definitely very popular for boomers."

"For online, the boomers are going where they’re comfortable. Whether it is a QVC or a Macy’s, it’s a store they’re comfortable with."

“The study had some interesting findings on convenience stores…. The boomers were mainly getting gas. The millennials were buying a lot of groceries.”

Taken from this article

"The Baby Boomers still have the most disposable income and account for almost 50% of retail sales. However, don’t think they should only be targeted through traditional media. They are very comfortable browsing and shopping online with 85% reporting that they research products online. And according to a report by Immersion Active, 66% of people over 50 in the United States routinely make purchases from online retailers.

Over 27 million social networking users in the U.S. are over the age of 55, with almost 19 million of them active on Facebook specifically. However, when it comes to social media, Baby Boomers use these sites in a different way than other generations. They tend to stick to traditional sites like Facebook. They also prefer having one-to-one interaction with retailers and will use social sites simply to find contact information to get in touch with retailers through alternate channels such as phone or email.

According to a Synchrony Financial report, "Balancing Multi-Generational Retail Strategies," Baby Boomers also love coupons and sales and 75% are more likely to purchase if they have a coupon or loyalty discount."

Taken from this article

"Baby Boomers prefer in-store purchases. 67% prefer to buy in store than online

Baby Boomers want personalization. 64% want a store associate to know the best product for their specific needs and budget. reports that while Internet users age 50–69 go online to compare prices, what really sways their purchasing decisions are commercials on television.

Nearly half of US boomer internet users researched online before buying electronics. More than one-fifth said they did this before purchasing apparel or appliances.

Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials to use “consumer websites and publications” and much more likely to cite these as“primary” sources.

89% of TimeTrade respondents between the ages of 55 and 64 indicate they like to shop in the store because they like to ‘touch and feel’ products before they decide what they want to buy.

60% of this survey segment values smart recommendations over fast service.

Taken from this article

From a 2014 study,  45% of U.S. consumers reported that they were spending more than a year ago, their increased spending was on household essentials, including groceries, gasoline, utilities and healthcare rather than on discretionary purchases such as travel, dining out, leisure activities, consumer electronics and clothing.

About four in 10 baby boomers (44%) in that same study reported that they were spending more than a year ago, and their increased spending followed the same pattern -- more on things they need, not on things they want.

According to demographers, there are really two different cohorts of baby boomers. "Leading-edge" boomers were born between 1946 and 1955 and came of age during the tumultuous Vietnam War and Civil Rights eras. "Trailing-edge" boomers were born between 1956 and 1964 and came of age after Vietnam and the Watergate scandal.

Leading-Edge Boomers Spend More Than Trailing-Edge Boomers

The lone exception is retirement investments, where more than twice as many trailing-edge boomers report spending more today than a year ago as leading-edge boomers do.

Leading-edge boomers (aged 59 to 68) may no longer be burdened with some significant financial responsibilities, such as college tuition, mortgages, children's expenses and investments, while trailing-edge boomers (aged 50 to 58) still are. As a result, leading-edge boomers report spending more in the past year in all categories except investments, particularly in the discretionary spending categories of travel, consumer electronics and leisure activities.

Leading-edge boomers appear to have greater latitude in their spending -- and are applying it to things they would prefer to do rather than things they have to do. For companies hoping to market to baby boomers, now is the time to begin to think of these two very different cohorts as distinct groups, with very different needs and responsibilities, and market to them accordingly. Older boomers, free of family financial obligations and focusing on new possibilities, will likely respond in ways that younger boomers won't -- or simply can't for now.

Taken from this article

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

By understanding how and where the 50+ shop, we should be able to develop products/services that they want.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the Community Guide for this challenge.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!


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