8 Things Web Developers Need to Know About Baby Boomers

By on May 13, 2007

People 50+ spend more than $1 trillion a year on products and services, and that number will only get larger. For the next 18 years, one baby boomer will turn 50 every 7.5 seconds. Now that’s a significant group of consumers. Want to know how to win their favor and cater to their desires online? You need to get to know them first.

There are lots of them. Baby Boomers” are those 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Every day 10,000 more of them turn 50 years old. One out of every three adults over 21 in the country is a Baby Boomer. If your advertising only targets 18 to 49 year olds, you’re missing millions of potential visitors, subscribers and customers.

Millions are using the web everyday. According to a BURST! Media study, Three of five adults 55 years and older, known to be the heaviest consumers of offline media such as newspapers and TV network news, say they use the Internet more today than they did a year ago. This data is supported by comScore Media Metrix research, which finds the number of online adults aged 55 and older grew by 20 percent to reach over 27 million in 2005.

They aren’t “seniors.” Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern and Robin Williams are all over 50. We may never describe them as “mature,” but you definitely can’t call them “seniors” or any other label for that matter. Boomers reject any and all age related labels to describe themselves. In fact, Boomers at age 50 see themselves some 12 years younger than they are. They obviously don’t consider themselves to be “old.” Treat them as a separate group.

They are still climbing the hill. Boomers at age 50 acknowledge that they are now in “Middle Age.” They expect to live 35 more years. This means they aren’t yet “over the hill.” In fact, they are the generation that keeps moving the proverbial “hill.” 60 will soon be the new 40. As a result, you will have this generation as customers for years and years. They are active vibrant and full of life.

Remember their physical challenges. Websites and print materials should be designed with their 50+ eyes in mind. Increase type size on tabs, navigation, logos and titles, use contrasting colors, and stay away from fancy fonts and clutter.

No funny business. They’ll call you on hype and hyperbole in a heartbeat. Just be straightforward and don’t insult their intelligence. Avoid sounding condescending. Include plenty of whitespace and minimize clutter on your site.

Don’t assume they are all the same. A 50-year-old is markedly different from a 75-year-old. You’ll have to do quite a bit of sub-segmenting to address their varying wants and needs. Don’t talk to them only in terms of their age. Remember all the usual breakdowns like income, ethnicity, health, etc.

They demand respect, freedom and privacy. One of the contributions made by the Boomer generation, appears to be the expansion of individual freedom. Boomers were leaders in the civil rights movement, the feminist cause in the 1970s, gay rights, handicapped rights, and the right to privacy. Baby Boomers demand the respect they deserve. Be sure to address their desires and cater to them.

References:
Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “Baby Boomers
Wegert, Tessa, “Baby Boomers Burst Online” Clickz Network 2005
McLellan, Drew “99.3 Random Acts of Marketing” 2003
Researce Report “BoomerProject” 2005

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About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.