Better Be Nice to the Boomers

They’re the Ones with Money amid the COVID-19 Recession

About This Report
While all generations have taken a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, boomers are better positioned than younger cohorts to keep spending amid the recession. Marketers must make the most of boomers, which necessitates being up to date on their digital and consumer behavior.

Executive Summary

No US demographic group is financially undamaged by the pandemic. But boomers (now ages 56 to 74, by our definition) came into it in better shape than younger groups and have, so far, exhibited less financial fragility. Marketers seeking solvent consumers must stay abreast of how boomer behavior has shifted (or not) amid the turmoil of recent months.

Are boomers in good financial shape?

Many are not. But with more than half of total US household wealth and above-average incomes, they’re better able than younger cohorts to survive the pandemic’s financial blows. Many are already retired—hence not at the mercy of a bad job market.

Has the pandemic prompted boomers to ramp up their digital usage?

In some ways, yes. They’ve increased their usage of social media and digital video. Some have had no choice but to try telemedicine. But boomers’ increases in digital usage build from a below-average base. They underindex for using smartphones and social media and have been slow to adopt smart speakers and wearables.

How digital are boomers in their shopping?

A majority are already digital buyers—but, at about six in 10, it's a less-than-landslide majority. The pandemic and lockdown have prompted boomers to increase the digital component of their buying, and some of this is likely to stick post-pandemic. They look forward, though, to returning to physical stores, where they prefer to do their buying.

Is there a boomer constituency for cause-related marketing?

Signals are mixed. In general, boomers are less engaged by this than younger consumers. And the specifics of the cause are crucial. For instance, “Black Lives Matter” as a principle has strong support among boomers, but a specific proposal like “defund the police” does not.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report assesses the financial strength of boomers vs. other generations in this time of recession. It examines their digital usage and shopping behavior, including the degree to which those have shifted in such a peculiar year.

KEY STAT: Nearly half of boomers have increased their online shopping during the pandemic, but—typical of their generation’s not-as-digital behavior in general—they’re less likely than younger consumers to have done so.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Still Solvent, Relatively Speaking
  3. Auditing Boomers’ Finances
  4. Increasingly Digital, but Still Lagging
  1. Boomers as Shoppers
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Dr. Alison Bryant
Senior Vice President, Research
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Jana Davis
Acosta Sales & Marketing
Director, Research
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Marc Mezzacca
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Laurie Orlov
Aging in Place Technology Watch
Founder, Principal Analyst
Interviewed July 10, 2020
Jeff Weiss
Age of Majority
President, Chief Evagelist Officer
Interviewed July 10, 2020

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Paul Briggs
Senior Analyst
Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research

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