Consumer Behavior Customer Experience Blog Baby Boomers in a Gen Z World: How to Boost Your CX for Older Shoppers Gal Fontyn February 3, 2021 8 Min Read Headlines to the tune of “How Gen Z is shaping the future of retail” are everywhere. Less often, we see posts on how to tend to Baby Boomer shoppers in this new era. Digitally savvy Gen Z’ers, who have dominated social media and driven profound shifts in consumer behavior, get most of the attention. But brands and retailers have good reason to cater to their older shoppers. For one thing, Baby Boomers hold 70% of the disposable income in the US and spend $3.2 trillion annually. Not only that, but since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 47% of consumers in this age group have reported increasing their digital spending. So, Baby Boomers are ready to spend — but they have different needs and preferences that retailers need to account for. As eCommerce technology becomes more advanced, brands and retailers must support their older audiences by creating helpful and intuitive online shopping experiences. To do this effectively, they’ll first need to understand Baby Boomers’ values, preferences, and expectations. Who Is the Baby Boomer Consumer? Understanding who Baby Boomers are is the first step to providing the kind of shopping experience they are looking for. This, of course, is fundamental to boosting conversion and capturing more of their spend. There are 69.6 million Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) in the US, making them the second-largest generation after Millennials. Many Baby Boomers, who have chosen to stay in the workplace longer, continue to increase their wealth, amassing 12x the net worth of the average Millennial household, according to Lending Tree. Despite common stereotypes that older folks are often averse to technology, the vast majority of Baby Boomers use the internet every day. At least 86% use social media daily, and 92% shop online. Baby Boomers’ wealth combined with their eagerness to shop online make them a prime audience for brands and retailers. With the right customer experience, you can boost sales and customer loyalty among them. What Do Baby Boomer Shoppers Value, and How Can Brands and Retailers Align Their Customer Experiences? Brands and retailers that are strategic enough to focus on older audiences need to ensure Baby Boomers’, in addition to Gen Z’ers, can reap the benefits of new eCommerce technology. Here are five key values of Baby Boomers when shopping online: 1. Access to information Baby Boomers on average might have more money to spend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t careful about how they spend it. Eighty-five percent of older shoppers dedicate time to researching products and services, and 70% seek relevant videos about products and services before they make a purchase. Optimizing the Experience: To keep your Baby Boomer shoppers moving toward checkout, it’s imperative to support the research process by making it as easy as possible to locate relevant information right on your website or app. Website navigation should be intuitive. Ensure your user interface is clean and clear, and make it easy to identify the search bar, category buttons, product descriptions, customer reviews, and other sources of information that support research. Another great approach is offering on-demand information via one-on-one consultations with product experts or chatbots. Despite what you may expect of older shoppers, Baby Boomers love the immediacy that chatbots offer. When it comes to chatbot adoption, Baby Boomers are actually 24% more likely to use them than Millennials. 2. Simplicity Baby Boomers are not afraid of using eCommerce technology. However, they have thin patience for tools that are overly complicated and not user-friendly. If your new, on-site solution requires too much clicking and “figuring out,” it’s unlikely Baby Boomers will even bother to try. Optimizing the Experience: Like your user interface and web navigation, onboarding to eCommerce tools should be intuitive and simple. High-tech on-site solutions such as AR, voice search, visual search, and other interactive technologies can help create inspiring and engaging customer journeys that boost AOV and revenue — but ease of use must be a top priority. When implementing these technologies, answer the following questions: Where in the customer journey will most shoppers interact with these tools? How easy are they to locate? Will shoppers be able to interpret the buttons and icons that represent these capabilities? Do these tools require more than a few clicks to use? What kind of user support or instruction can you offer (i.e. feature highlights, tooltips, demos) to simplify onboarding? By ensuring shoppers of all demographics and experience levels can quickly figure out how to use your eCommerce tools, engagement will rise, leading to greater sales and customer satisfaction. 3. Flexibility What began as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a need for social distancing sparked a mindset shift for both shoppers and retailers: flexibility helps both sides win. Older shoppers, who are typically more cautious about avoiding crowds but still desire the immediacy of in-person shopping, appreciate greater flexibility when it comes to how they make purchases and receive orders. Optimizing the Experience: Brands and retailers that provide more options for ordering and receiving purchases will have a better shot at fulfilling all shoppers’ preferences. For example, since more stores began offering buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) options, many shoppers have jumped at the opportunity. According to Digital Commerce 360, more than two-thirds of shoppers made their first-ever online purchase when BOPIS became an option, and more than half of all shoppers have increased online spending since it became mainstream. In general, customers opt for BOPIS four times more than they did before the pandemic began, and more than half of all shoppers have chosen a brand just because they offer BOPIS. Other payment and pickup options provide additional flexibility, such as same-day home delivery or book ahead and pay in-store. 4. Reliability and trust Baby Boomers are highly loyal customers, with 79% participating in brand loyalty programs. However, this loyalty isn’t unconditional. In addition to helpful customer service, trust and reliability are essential tenets of brand loyalty for Baby Boomers. To earn their continued business, brands and retailers must first build Baby Boomers’ confidence. Optimizing the Experience: An effective method for establishing trust with your shoppers is to offer more ways to view and compare products. This is especially relevant for items at a higher price point, such as jewelry, furniture, and electronics. Advanced tools such as 360-degree viewing and superzoom allow shoppers to closely examine products on your website or app. In some cases, this can be even more effective than viewing an item in-person. By providing these capabilities, you’re showing shoppers that you understand the need to inspect a product before buying and strive to enable the research and comparison process, which Baby Boomers will appreciate. Another great approach is to include authentic customer reviews of different items — good and bad — that provide real-life descriptions and experiences. And finally, it’s important to make each step of the purchase process extremely clear. Baby Boomer shoppers will be more inclined to buy if they feel confident that they know what will happen following each click along the way — especially when it comes to checkout. Let them know how many steps they have left and at which stage their credit card will be charged using helpful tooltips, so they feel safe using your site. 5. Consistency With so many avenues for engaging customers, brands and retailers are devoting more attention and resources to creating a seamless, omnichannel experience. Older generations — not just Millennials and Gen Z — are avid social media users, shop online, and buy in stores. Creating a frictionless and cohesive omnichannel experience is just as important for engaging and converting them as it is for younger shoppers. Optimizing the Experience: If a shopper begins interacting with your brand on social media but the path to purchase on your website is broken, they are unlikely to reach checkout. Nearly 78% of Baby Boomers say they are turned off when they need to restart a conversation with a brand, which easily turns into shopper drop-off. Not only do Baby Boomers desire a user experience that emphasizes ease of use on your site, every point along the customer journey should flow seamlessly into the next. Consider how shoppers may interact with your brand — from search engines to social media to your website. Do you provide a direct route to your product listing pages, similar products, and checkout? If not, consider how you can connect all of these touchpoints and create greater consistency. Support Your Baby Boomer Shoppers to Boost Loyalty and Sales Despite the size of their population and level of purchasing power, Baby Boomer shoppers are often neglected in brand and retailers’ customer experience strategies. Gen Z’s and Millennials may dictate eCommerce trends, but it’s equally important to cater to Baby Boomers’ preferences. By understanding what Baby Boomer shoppers value in a customer experience, making eCommerce tech easy and intuitive to use, and providing ample on-screen support, you’ll be better positioned to attract and convert them.