Baby Boomers: The enthusiastic and overlooked online shoppers

Debunking the three most common misconceptions about Baby Boomers.
Baby Boomers The enthusiastic and overlooked online shoppers

2020 was a tipping point for Baby Boomers online.


The demographic, whose ages range between 57 – 75, were hit hard by the pandemic. Deemed the most vulnerable age group, many were forced to isolate for longer and as a result, turned to websites and apps to stay connected and stocked. 81% of Chinese consumers aged 55+ are now more comfortable using digital technology. Similarly, 86% of over-55s in the UAE feel the same way. This is according to recent reports by Wunderman Thompson.

As they experience the benefits, shopping and sharing online has become part of their daily lives. Marketers that can acknowledge this shift and cater for this demographic are poised to tap into a lucrative market, overtaking those guided by outdated stereotypes. So let’s tackle the most common misconceptions about this generation.

Misconception 1: They leave social media to the grandkids


Baby Boomers are on social media to stay connected to family and friends, to follow brands (22%) and to shop online. 33% of over-55s say that social media is a source of shopping inspiration. Believe it or not, they’re using it more than other age groups. According to a Pew Research Center 2021 study, those aged 50-64 actually use Facebook more than the age groups just above and below them. 

With 84% of Boomers claiming that social media is improving their lives, it’s no surprise that they display healthy usage. 27.9% of women aged 55 – 64 use social media and spend an average of an hour and 35 minutes online each day. Meanwhile, 28.3% of their male counterparts use social media and spend an hour and 21 minutes online each day.

Baby Boomers The enthusiastic and overlooked online shoppers

Misconception 2: They only like to shop in store 


Boomers aren’t completely new to online shopping. 75.6% of females and 71.9% of males aged 55-64 have purchased something online using any device. However, the pandemic caused a surge in online shopping among the generation. According to Wunderman Thompson, 54% of over-55s admit that online shopping came to their rescue during this period.

And this trend shows no sign of slowing down. 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 the demographic spent 49% more online in 2020 than they did in 2019.

Marketers on Facebook have also seen this increasing trend and in 2020, 24.4% more women over 65 and 25% more men over 65 were being reached by Facebook Advertising. That’s the biggest change of all the age groups. Even more startling is that women aged 45 – 64 actually click on Facebook ads the most, on average, 19 times a month and 65+ women aren’t far behind with 14 clicks per month. This comes as no surprise when globally, Facebook is the most popular s-commerce platform for over-55s. 20% said it’s the channel they’re most likely to purchase from.

The generation is also slowly starting to get comfortable with social commerce. Most notably, 58% of over-55s in China have purchased something via social media. 55% of that same age group in Thailand have also bought something via social. And surprisingly, TikTok comes in at number one for boomers in China. With 69% naming it the social channel they would most likely purchase from.

Baby Boomers The enthusiastic and overlooked online shoppers

Misconception 3: They’re not interested in influencers or their content


Although the generation is following the least amount of influencers, they’re still showing interest in following them and other experts on social media. 9% of Boomers follow influencers. They can also be persuaded by influencer content used in social ads. For example, in  Vamp’s paid media campaigns for Pottery Barn, people over the age of 55 make up 15% and 16% of purchases. Even though they weren’t the main target audience.

But they’re not just influenced, they’re influencing too. 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. There’s also Grandma Wang Who Only Wears High Heels, an 80-year-old KOL with over 16 million followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

Brands getting it right


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.

Alaska Airlines is also getting in on the action and taking 8-10 Boomers on spring break with their AK Boomer House promotion. The influencers will be invited to stay in a California hotel and create content for the airline’s media and social feeds.

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. 

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