E-commerce & Internet Retail

Why CPG Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore Baby Boomers

  • December 13, 2018
  • Joshua Schall
  • 6 minutes

With all the focus on the growing spending power and elusive shopping habits of Millennials and Generation Z, many big CPG brands often ignore Baby Boomers. These brands seem to worry that marketing to older demographics could alienate younger generations.

In reality, as Baby Boomers age, their interests and lifestyles have more in common with younger generations than with older ones. Problem is, many big CPG brands are stuck on outdated ideas about aging, which Baby Boomers are redefining by living longer and in a physical condition that allows them to work and earn money after reaching retirement age.

As life expectancies increase and Baby Boomers continue to invest more money in their health and wellness, big CPG brands can no longer afford to ignore this significant marketing opportunity.

Baby Boomer Facts

The Baby Boomer generation comprises the portion of the U.S. population that was born between 1946 and 1964. Once the largest generation, Baby Boomers still account for just under one-quarter of the American population. In total, there are approximately 74 million Baby Boomers still living. In a decade’s time, the youngest of the generation will have aged into retirement, but the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will still be more than 61 million Boomers living, or about 17% of the U.S. population.

Baby Boomers are also the wealthiest generation. Studies show that they control about 70% of all disposable income in the United States and close to 50% of all dollars spent on CPG products.

"Baby Boomers control close to 50% of all dollars spent on CPG products."

Longevity Economy

Baby Boomers are now expected to live several years longer than their parents on average. Compound that with an increase in chronic diseases, and Baby Boomers have become more aware of how diet and exercise impact their overall health and wellness. They are changing their behaviors and redefining what aging looks like by focusing on self-care and improving personal wellness through diet. As a result, Baby Boomers are expected to spend 3.4% more on their health than the previous generation.

Functional Foods for Baby Boomers

Driven by both necessity and the desire for self-care, Baby Boomers are increasingly focusing their attention and spending on health and wellness categories. This increased spending is primarily on nutritional supplements and functional foods and beverages. Though the trend is usually attributed to Millennials, the Baby Boomer generation is also seeking healthier choices in the form of better-for-you snacks.

Most consumers in the Baby Boomer demographic group want more ingredients that help prevent or mitigate conditions related to aging. These include fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and whole grains. According to Fona International, the biggest health claims for functional foods marketed to Baby Boomers are:

  • Health Optimization
  • Digestive/Gut Health
  • Energy/Alertness
  • Heart Health
  • Immune Health

Bonus: 5 Functional Food & Beverage Trends to Watch in 2019

Bottled Fountain of Youth

While Millennials are often the star attraction for marketing campaigns in the beauty category, Baby Boomers continue to demand a growing number of personal care products, as beauty is now being equated with health and wellness. Moreover, the desire to look your best does not have an expiration date; over half of Baby Boomer women say they use beauty products to look good. These women are seeking products that will directly address skin, hair care, and health concerns that arise during the aging process. Baby Boomers also have consistent beauty routines and rarely seek out new products over their current trusted brands, creating long-standing brand loyalty.

Baby Boomers Love Digital Too

The assumption of many advertisers is that digital devices are exclusively used by Millennials and Generation Z. Reality is, today’s Baby Boomers are more connected than ever before. They are using YouTube, Facebook, search engines, smartphones and other digital devices to search for product information. Though this generation is primarily media traditionalists, 70% enjoy watching videos online about products and services. And while YouTube is most popular with Millennials, ad campaigns tend to get a better response from Baby Boomers.

Additionally, a recent Digital Trends survey showed that Baby Boomers also are 19% more likely to share digital content compared to younger individuals. Furthermore, if you’re looking to use social media to market your CPG products, you’ll find that 65% of Baby Boomers have a Facebook account. Because Baby Boomers are more accustomed to technology than we might think, many of the digital marketing initiatives can easily be adjusted to target this generation.

Have a Personalized Approach

Baby Boomers were once called the “me generation” for their individualistic attitudes. Customization remains one of the principal avenues for adding premium value to any CPG brand. This trend is age-agnostic and driven by growing individuality and the fragmentation of demand across multiple factors, from lifestyle choices and values to age. Baby Boomers are also moving their purchases online, which means CPG brands can market to the generation with a personal, highly targeted approach. According to recent reports, about 4 out of 5 Baby Boomers don’t expect relevance in branded recommendations, which makes personalization even more powerful.

Conclusion

The Baby Boomer generation is living longer and spending more money on their health and wellness than the generations before them. Contrary to popular belief, this older demographic has more in common with younger generations than the ones before it. Not only are they actively seeking better-for-you products with functional ingredients, but they’re increasingly turning to digital channels to research and purchase these items. While many big CPG brands are focusing their marketing efforts solely on Millennials and Generation Z, Baby Boomers represent a significant opportunity that has largely gone untapped – until now.

Bonus: 5 Ways CPG Brands Can Win With Millennials in 2019


Joshua Schall, MBA has an 11-year background in the emerging and intersecting CPG/FMCG categories of functional food and beverage and nutritional products.

He currently is the owner of J. Schall Consulting, an Austin, TX-based boutique management consulting company that focuses on digital growth strategies for CPG/FMCG brands that range from pre-launch to portfolio companies with $500M in yearly revenue.

Joshua enjoys an active healthy lifestyle but still finds himself spending way too much time scanning social media and digital grocery aisles for new consumable brands.

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