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Brands have been stuck on marketing to millennials and Gen Z buyers. However, the significance of the Baby Boomers is too huge to underestimate it.

Don't Forget Baby Boomers in Your Restaurant's Digital Strategy

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Although much focus has been given to younger generations in the mobile world, it’s important to consider Baby Boomers and their spending potential.
By Galina Grigoreva March 2018 Expert Insights

While you might be thinking about an opportunity to implement a mobile loyalty or ordering solution into your business, you are probably trying to find answers to the most worrying questions. Like, if it is possible to somehow include Baby Boomers you have among your customers into the segment to promote your mobile app to.

A reasonable question, considering that the number of Baby Boomers is almost the same than that of millennials. As of July 1, 2016, millennials (ages 20–35) numbered 71 million, and Boomers (ages 52–70) numbered 74 million. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are going to surpass Boomers in population by 2019 and reach 73 million while Boomers decrease to 72 million. Bloomberg states that by 2050 there will be 161 million 50+ consumers.

Despite Boomers are targeted by just 5–10 percent of marketing they spend the most and in the next 15 years will account for 51 percent of urban consumption growth. This means that over the next years, spending by Baby Boomers is expected to increase by 58 percent to $4.74 trillion.

Marketing to Baby Boomers Should Go Digital

Although much focus has been given to younger generations in the mobile world, it’s important to remember the population of adults aged 50 and above. You may believe that mobile isn’t the right way to connect with audiences above 50. However, recent statistics prove otherwise. According to Google, almost 40 percent of Baby Boomers own a smartphone or tablet. 33 percent of all tablets are owned by people 50-plus. As regards online spending, the U.S. Baby Boomers power is equal to $3.2 trillion annually where $7 billion goes for online purchasing.  

Baby Boomers may not be as quick to consume as their millennial and Gen Z counterparts, but they are still more digitally connected than any of their predecessors. Just think about some of your older family members—they may not “get it”, but you might bet they’re on the computer more than you. According to a 2014 study from the Pew Research Center, more than half of Americans aged 65-plus are Internet users. Many adults and elders have traded in their desktops for tablet computers, which in turn increases their use of apps. In addition, 77 percent of them use a cell phone, with 59 percent of these phones being smartphones as of 2017. This statistic is rising—the number of senior smartphone users has almost doubled in the past five years.

Baby Boomers are also avid social media users. Seventy-two percent of adults aged 50–64 are active Facebook members, with a ten percent difference in adults aged 65 and up at 62 percent. Even though Baby Boomers tend to create less online content, they still log a significant amount of hours behind the screen. Most adults report their No. 1 reason for technology usage being to keep up with family and friends, and their second reason is for shopping with ease. With such a dramatic increase in statistics in only the last five years, one can only predict that even more seniors will adapt to smartphone usage in the upcoming future.

What About Boomers Usage Of Restaurant Technologies and Loyalty Programs?

According to the NRA’s Research, 56 percent of consumers age 45-64 have recently used technology options in restaurants. About one-third of this segment has searched for restaurant locations on a smartphone. One out of 10 has ordered takeout or delivery, or made a table reservation with his or her smartphone or tablet apps.

Baby Boomers like to feel themselves as tech-savvy. Forty percent of the surveyed say they would place orders, make reservations, use rewards or special deals using smartphone or tablet apps. Very important to note that when asked in which area they would prefer using technology features in restaurants, baby boomers mention loyalty programs and ordering.

Therefore, your loyalty programs being accessible on smartphones, tablets, and online will be a key part of its success with Baby Boomers in the nearest future.

Due to the growth in the use of smartphones and tablets by Baby Boomers, don’t forget to include them in your mobile solutions. Older adults tend to value special, unique experiences, and, in contrast to millennials, don’t mind a bit of an extra wait as long as they are ensured an experience that will enrich their life.

Adults enjoy being treated like a VIP, and so value reward programs where they feel like they are being recognized and rewarded for their loyalty. In further contrast to millennials, they are much more likely to compare and contrast products for value. In a 2015 poll run by The Senior List, about 97 percent of senior voters said they are more likely to frequent a business, which offers senior discounts. So while millennials are more likely to go where they feel their time is valued, adults are more likely to go where they feel like they are valued.

What You Should Do To Adjust Your Loyalty Program To Baby Boomers

So, what steps are necessary to accommodate Baby Boomers in your loyalty programs?

  • Ensure your loyalty program to get available on mobile phones.
  • Mind the size of fonts and buttons used in your apps.
  • Add healthful items to your menu with the description of their nutrition information and composition.
  • Consider providing details on parking options to app sections with locations and directions.
  • Ensuring your elder customers are experiencing value-based rewards that show them you value them as customers.

Remember that mobile loyalty programs are more than a valuable business tool; they’re also a hotspot for collecting customer data in order to better understand the trends and patterns of your clients. Your loyalty program is one of the most important parts of your relationship with clients.

Brands have been stuck on marketing to millennials and Gen Z buyers. However, the significance of the Baby Boomers is too huge to underestimate it. Baby Boomers are more likely to be loyal to a brand and have more disposable income to spend than millennials (not to mention, they're often the ones making the purchases for the millennials). Therefore, it is imperative to factor in this demographic in your outreach.

Taking into account the rising trend of Baby Boomers exploring smartphones and their benefits like mobile payments, shopping, and brands’ bonus programs, the smartest strategy for marketers should be not choosing between millennials and boomers at all. Messages may be different but channels are going to be almost the same in the nearest future.

Galina Grigoreva is the head of marketing at LoyaltyPlant, a NYC-based global provider of mobile loyalty and ordering solutions for restaurant brands. A customer engagement evangelist advocating highly personalized and mutually rewarding communications between brands and their customers with the help of technology.