Baby boomers are the generation born during the post-war population boom. The times in which they grew up undoubtedly shaped their character and habits. The aim of this article is to offer an insight into who they are, what kind of customers they are, and what expectations they have from service providers.
Who are the Baby Boomers?
The increasing prosperity and social and economic transformation after World War II contributed to the baby boom, hence people born between 1946 and 1964 are referred to as “baby boomers”. The growing up years of this generation were a time of many changes and numerous social movements – the fight with racial segregation in America, women fighting for their right to vote and for equality in anincreasing number of countries. The Vietnam War stirred American society, and a subculture of hippies, or ‘flower children’ emerged, and people united under the slogan ‘Make love, not war’ at demonstrations. These are also the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the time when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Music is dominated by the Beatles and Elvis Presley and the crazy era of disco music begins. The blockbuster titles at cinemas include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, West Side Story, Rosemary’s Baby, Jaws and the first titles by Woody Allen, such as Annie Hall and Manhattan. These are the years of tremendous technological progress – the first man landing on the moon and the creation of the first Internet connection.
Baby boomers are the generation raised in the age of individualism. Representatives of this generation had to fight for their rights, hence their experimental and idealistic approach to life. Their parents, who still remembered the war, instilled in them a respect for success and achievements, but also for material possessions. They feel secure with their savings, which they try to spend wisely. However, they want to enjoy life and improve its quality by acquiring material goods and by travelling. Despite the fact that they are slowly leaving the labour market, baby boomers do not perceive themselves as seniors, and treat their upcoming retirement as a time to fulfil their dreams and as an opportunity to engage in activities they did not have time for while being professionally active.
Baby boomer goes shopping – it’s comfort above all
Baby boomers are the most numerous group of consumers right now. (1) What kind of customers are they? This group has high expectations of products and services. They have savings, so price is not a major factor in their decisions. They often purchase luxury goods. They are susceptible to advertisements that show that a particular thing or service will improve their lives or ensure an interesting future. Even though they are close to retirement, they don’t look at themselves as seniors. They are healthy and full of life and want to stay active and develop all the time. They find advertising materials that guarantee a varied life very attractive. In brick and mortar stores, they trust the opinions of those shop assistants who are close to them in age. They become very attached to specific brands and places where they can purchase them. It would seem that it is very easy to find such a customer and earn their full commitment by offering them high quality products. In European marketing, however, this group is heavily overlooked, with companies such as Nike, Sony, and Coca Cola targeting 15-35 year-olds.(1)
Baby boomers don’t treat shopping as a pleasure. They buy because they need something, they do not treat this activity as entertainment, and therefore they do not tend to look for bargains, wait for special promotions, or compare prices in different places. On the other hand, they value short time devoted to the transaction, convenience, and high quality customer service.(2) They are accustomed to specific stores, including online shops.
Despite the fact that the baby boomer generation grew up without the Internet and access to technology, they are eager to use these conveniences. A report from a global study conducted by KPMG (3) states that the average annual number of transactions made online by baby boomers is 15 transactions per year, which does not differ much from the younger generations. In contrast, the average purchase amount is $203 for baby boomers, while Generation X spends an average of $190, and Millennials spend even less – $173.
Baby boomer surfs the Internet
Representatives of the baby boomers generation are eager to use the Internet. According to a U.S. study, 87% of this age group in the United States used the Internet in 2018 and these rates continue to rise. (4) They use the Internet mainly to find out about current affairs, use e-mail boxes, and are not convinced about social media. Less than 20% of those surveyed said they book their trips through online travel portals. Importantly, over 40% of baby boomers shop online and over 50% of them use online banking. (3) This study shows that this group has a lot of potential and can be encouraged to shop online, especially now that during the pandemic, most businesses are moving online, and encourage customers to use their services by offering secure transactions without leaving home.
Most boomers go online on a laptop or desktop computer (over 67% according to Global Consumer Report), with a small percentage using a tablet (10%) or smartphone (4%).(3) When asked what they buy over the Internet, most of the survey participants reported that it is mainly pharmaceutical products, household goods, books, and cosmetics.(3)
Baby boomers are looking for simple, clear, and intuitive websites. The website must be easy to use and has to showcase important additional information in a clear manner. Security of using the website and the payment process are also a very important factor.(1) The same aspects will be crucial for online portals wishing to propose trips abroad to the representatives of this generation. To better understand the needs of this generation, it is essential to get to know their holiday habits, how they relax and how they like to book these holidays.
Baby boomers going on holiday
How do baby boomers look for their holiday? What is their inspiration? Baby boomers like to follow authority figures, so they often get their holiday ideas from family and friends. The Internet has become a very important source for fulfilling these ideas. Baby boomers use it for a more ‘traditional’ search by getting to know what the place has to offer and how they can get there. They are less inclined to accept the offers of intermediaries who offer the entire package in one place, as younger generations do.(5)
Baby boomers have savings and spend them thoughtfully, which is probably why they so carefully scrutinize every step of their trip and what a given place offers. However, they do not look for special bargains. Nor do they compare travel deals and their prices. Unlike other generations, the trip of a baby boomer takes longer, i.e. 7 days and longer. (6) They also pick more distant destinations, and compared to other generations, they travel the most. (5) Baby boomers are confident and determined tourists. They often opt for a traditional holiday, or a combination of leisure and sightseeing. Apart from relaxation, they look for additional attractions so that they can see or learn something new on their trip. They value active recreation, spending time in nature. Interestingly, they like culinary experiences and spend more on food than on cultural attractions. Interestingly, they like culinary experiences and spend more on food than on cultural attractions. They are interested in undertakings that combine the promotion of cities with historical heritage and culinary art. A perfect example of this is the initiative of Italian towns from the region of Puglia, which have created a joint project and promote the region and its unique recipes, attracting gourmets from all over the world.(7) Similar ideas can be found in the tour of vineyards in French Champagne, or the trail of the Tastes of Lower Silesia (8) where, in addition to quaint castles and picturesque views, one can enjoy local specialties such as cheese, fish, liqueurs, or mead prepared according to traditional recipes.
Baby boomers are, no doubt, very demanding, but also loyal customers. Offering them a quality service may earn you their commitment for years. One does not need to convince them of the advantages offered by new technologies, but only to facilitate clear and safe access to the offered services. Internet travel portals also have the potential to interest this generation in their services. Baby boomers will love to use a clear site with complete product information and buy a holiday online.