Social media could be the key to connecting with baby boomers

Marketers may be obsessed with reaching younger consumers, but that doesn’t mean that baby boomers aren’t worth their time. Next year, 11.3 million consumers ages 55 to 64 and 10.8 million consumers 65 and older will make a purchase via social media, per our forecast.

Boomers are a valuable consumer base for marketers to target. Some 63% report having a credit card, per GWI’s Q2 2023 report. In addition, 39% have purchased a product or service online within the last week, and 30% are in a high income group.

But despite their purchasing power, only 10% of boomers see themselves represented in advertising, according to the same report.

Social media can help close that gap if marketers can identify how and where boomers like to spend their time (and money).

“We’ve seen the digitization of baby boomers,” said Andy Childs, head of strategy, Central Europe at Meta, during a GWI webinar. “Daily mobile time has increased 2.8 times since 2013, rising from 37 minutes in 2013 to 2 and a half hours in 2023. In addition, time spent on social media has increased by 68% [during that same time frame] to nearly 90 minutes a day.”

  • There will be 36.4 million baby boomers (or 53.8%) using social networks in the US in 2024, per our May 2023 forecast.
  • Facebook is the most popular social media app used by boomers, per GWI. But TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, and Instagram are also growing in popularity.

“The number of [boomers] who regularly use video-based apps is climbing,” said Tyler Ashe, senior trends analyst at GWI.

  • On average, US consumers will spend 49 minutes a day watching social video in 2024, a 5.8% increase YoY, per our June 2023 forecast.
  • The number of US baby boomers that cite following influencers as a top reason for using social platforms has grown 22% since Q2 2021, per GWI.
  • “Older lifestyle influencers like Barbara Costello, Lynn Davis, and Gym Tan are helping to increase visibility and representation of boomers on social media channels,” said Ashe.

The key to getting them to buy? Earning their trust.

Knowing and trusting a brand is the top factor influencing purchase decisions for US adults, particularly among those ages 55 and older, per an August 2023 CivicScience survey.

But a word of caution: Brands should beware of prioritizing a quick sale over earning boomers’ loyalty. Sixty-two percent of boomers regret at least one impulse purchase they bought because they saw it on social media, per a Bankrate and YouGov survey.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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