Study: Baby Boomers Are "Savvy Shoppers" Who Brand-Jump More Than Younger Generations

It’s time once again to play Categorize The Shopping Public, this time using a survey commissioned by TV Land to convince advertisers that its Boomer-centric programming is relevant. If you or someone you know is between the ages of 40-59, you won’t want to miss this very important message—but to summarize it for the ADD crowd, it seems younger folks are (slightly) more likely to choose a brand based on fashion and hype, whereas Boomers are (slightly) less brand-loyal and seek greater value. This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that younger consumers are savvier shoppers, and gives Boomers something to gloat over—before they forget what it is they’re gloating about. Ha ha! Old people are so old!

In general, says the study, Boomers are usually the “breadwinners in the household,” and “make most or all of the family spending decisions.”

The study tosses out the following labels, and we toss in our own thoughts about how this could influence advertising:

Promiscuous Purchasers

40-59 spend more than three times the amount of money per month on spouses ($514) than adults under 40 ($169). Additionally, they spend nearly twice as much per month on kids ($295 vs. $158) and three times the amount per month on teen children ($494 vs. $136). With so many purchase decisions to make for the household, these “Promiscuous Purchasers” are an important marketing sector even when they are not the prime target.

[Translation: Boomers are gatekeepers, so ads targeting youth need to also secretly target their parents, or train the primary target audience to advocate for the product in Boomer-friendly language.]

Free Agent Shoppers

40 and 50-somethings are more open to new brands and less brand loyal than people under 40. Twenty-six percent of Boomers said they are not at all brand loyal versus 21% of Gen X and Millennials. In fact, Gen Y are the most likely to say that once they have made a commitment to a brand, they will stick with it, no matter what. The willingness of 40 and 50 year-olds to buy new brands carries over across virtually every product category including electronics, personal care products, restaurants, automobiles and more. And when compared to the Generation who came before them these “Free Agent Shoppers” have very different spending habits. No longer will this age group buy the same products based on lifelong brand decisions and spend less as they age. This demo is redefining brand loyalty and determining purchase decisions based on the effectiveness of products. Today’s 40 and 50-somethings stick with a product for as long as it’s good and fulfills their complex needs. They are not afraid to change for something they feel will improve their lives.

[Translation: Boomers like to shop around, and they like to self-improve. Combine the two activities and you’ve got a compelling brand.]

Savvy Switchers

While Boomers are very open to new brands, they will not switch just because something is new. Ninety-one percent of people in their 40s and 50s want the brand to provide more value versus 83% of Gen X and Millennials. Boomers will consider new brands if that brand is a better alternative—the product or service must be more useful, functional and provide the most benefit/value. Unlike Millennials and Gen Xers they are less likely to be influenced by the notion that the brand is more prestigious or the latest style; instead, their purchase decisions are based on reliability and quality. The product/service needs to have the best features, not necessarily the most features.

[Translation: Ads that focus on movements, fashions, or trends don’t work as well on Boomers—probably because they’re not as relevant.]

The study also found that newborns, or “Generation Teat,” will buy anything that’s offered to them online, provided you place the cursor over the “buy it now” button and place the keyboard next to their feet. Now there’s a demographic to go after.

“Breadwinning Boomers Responsible for Multi-Generational Brand Decisions, TV Land’s ‘Generation BUY’ Study Finds”
(Photo: Getty)