Most of the topics we’ve covered this semester seem to be related to cutting-edge technologies and the concepts behind them. For any of these digital tools to truly change the way the world works, the majority of consumers need to buy in and I think oftentimes it’s easy to forget about the baby boomer generation. I don’t think this has to do with the characteristics of the boomer generation specifically but rather the attitude of anyone in their late 50’s to mid-’70s. The older people get, the less willing they are to try new things, to push the envelope, to experiment, and be vulnerable. Usually, this is because they feel as though their life experiences have helped them refine what works best for them and there’s no reason to risk disappointment. In terms of the older generations in our society baby boomers are actually a much more appealing market for digital transformation efforts than the silent generation, which I hadn’t read much about before this semester. As soon-to-be MBA’s, I think it’s critical we understand this generation, what their concerns are and how we can facilitate mutually beneficial digital transformation which will help accelerate our rate of evolution as a whole.
So who are baby boomers other than people around our parent’s age?
- They were born between 1946 and 1964, which means they’re between 57 and 75 years old.
- They spend more money shopping online than any other generation.
- Consumers older than 50 account for more than half of US spending.
- 39% of baby boomers consider themselves to be early adopters of new technology.
- They spend an average of 27 hours a week online.
- By the year 2030, 20% of the US population will be 65 or older.
So they have money and show a willingness to expand digitally, why the need for the increased focus?
- Only an estimated 5 to 10% of marketing budgets are devoted to winning them over.
- Only 5% of advertising images of people over 50 show them using technology.
- Even then it’s oftentimes a younger person teaching an older person how to use a device.
- 46% of the U.S. adult population is age 50-plus but only 15% of online images containing adults include people in this age range.
- Portrayals of those over 50 are negative 28% of the time – compared to only 4% of the time for younger people.
- 70% of the time, people in this demographic are shown in isolated situations – often seated, alone, with a partner, or with a medical professional where they were the recipients of care.
Any digital technology will struggle to gain widespread popularity with the dismal focus on this generation that is detailed above. But the answer to getting baby boomers to buy in isn’t simply an advertising and marketing problem, as the drivers of digital transformation it’s important we understand their concerns and what they’re looking for. By doing this, products and services can align themselves accordingly when coming to market.
So what are baby boomers concerned with?
- A 2020 survey found that 78% of respondents expressed concerns relating to finance and retirement.
- 77% conveyed concern about managing health and fitness.
- The rank of baby boomer concerns (highest to lowest):
- Accessing medical information
- Buying medicine and prescriptions
- Monitoring their health
- Accessing their healthcare from a doctor, nurse, or hospital
- Retirement savings
This list of concerns is what has me convinced that there needs to be a more specific focus on this generation in particular. These concerns are topics that will impact each and every one of us throughout our lives. There’s nothing mentioned about entertainment or a desire for hot new investment – this generation is focused on using digital technologies to improve our collective quality of life and we should be taking advantage of that. Expressing concern directly shows the generational level of demand and this learning period is too valuable for us to take our time with. To get nice and selfish – I hope we can leverage this generation’s health-related concerns to reinvent the way aging has been administered by the society we live in…that way all the kinks will be worked out when we’re in need of a more efficient, digitally focused health system. The demand is certainly there are you can see below.
Other than the technologies and platforms themselves, the real key to getting the baby boomer generation to commit to change is trust. Especially in the two topics they are interested in the most – healthcare and money management – boomers need to be able to trust that the alternatives being offered will add value to their lives and will not harm them. This is much different than concerns of younger generations as it relates to digital transformation. From my perspective, although trust is big, it seems to be more about added value via an experience than a process improvement for millennials.
I’ve spent this semester researching how the healthcare industry is undergoing a digital transformation – specifically, what the best approach would be to convince baby boomers to give a new digital healthcare platform a chance. I’m curious what each of you would do to convince boomers to trust and depend on your newly created platform, in any industry of choice. Which tech companies do you think do a good job adding value to this generation?