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Boomers or Millennials — Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

Originally published
Originally published: 6/1/2018

I am a Baby Boomer so, yes, I bring that perspective to this column. And yes, this column totally ignores Gen Xers. Sorry guys, there just aren’t enough of you. Blame it on Baby Boomer parents who were too busy working to have children!

But before we get into where you should spend your marketing dollars, let’s look at the facts.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and are between the ages of 54 and 72. Depending on which research is used, there are currently between 76 and 79 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. today.

As of 2017, 50 percent of the U.S. population was over 50 years old.

Boomers control 70 percent of the disposable income in the U.S. and will inherit approximately $15 trillion more over the next 20 years. They have $2.4 trillion in spending power each year.

Boomers spend the most across all product categories, but only 5 to 10 percent of advertising is directed to Boomers. Also, 82.3 percent of Baby Boomers belong to a social media site. The vast majority use Facebook, but have insignificant representation on Twitter or Instagram as well.

Finally, 80 percent of Baby Boomers own their homes.


Millennials were born between 1981 and 1997 and are between the ages of 21 and 37. Again, depending upon the source, there are currently between 79 and 83 million Millennials in the U.S. today.

Millennials have about $1.3 trillion in spending power a year, but only 13 percent own their homes.

How to Use this Information

Recently, at an industry conference, a panel of contracting business owners and equipment manufacturers were asked to comment on the future of our industry. As expected, part of that discussion was about social media and Internet marketing. Of the six people on the panel, all but two of us were younger than 40. In other words, they’re Millennials.

Now I love Millennials, but just like Boomers were at their age, Millennials’ ideas and marketing are focused on their likes and dislikes, their perspectives, their expertise and focus. And so the younger members of the panel focused on social media marketing being the best way to reach Millennials who represent the largest segment of the U.S. population.

All of what these Millennials said was true, but it didn’t take into account a number of facts listed above.

As an owner of a contracting business that focuses on selling equipment and home upgrades costing thousands of dollars to homeowners and with limited marketing dollars to spend, where should you focus your marketing dollars?

My answer is obvious: Focus on a large population whom other product marketers are ignoring, who own homes and have a lot of discretionary income to spend. Conclusion: Baby Boomers.

So how do you do that? Here are 12 ways you can target this still relevant market segment.

  1. Don’t call Boomers “old, older, senior or elderly.” Instead give Baby Boomers the “Because you’ve still got it” discount.
  2. When choosing a targeted age group for marketing, target those consumers who are 50+ years old, whether buying and boosting ads on Facebook or buying a mailing list.
  3. Use pictures of people who are 50+ on your direct mail and Facebook ads.
  4. Baby Boomers read and go to multiple Internet sites for research. Content marketing still works with this age group. Just keep the font size friendly.
  5. Facebook ads should always direct the Boomer back to your website. Boomers may use social media, but they use the Internet to do research.
  6. If affordable, advertise on local TV or cable. Boomers watch 174 hours of TV a month — 63 percent more than Millennials.
  7. Create and post videos. But keep in mind, they should be slow paced with informative content — the opposite of what a Millennial would watch or create.
  8. Use coupons. Both Millennials and Boomers want coupons.
  9. Design your ads and website with more visuals, larger fonts that are kind to the eyes of the over 50 crowd and with lots of white space, making it easier to read even for the Millennials approaching 40.
  10. Boomers are often referred to as the “me” generation. They created the 60-hour workweek and, as a result of working all those hours, believe they deserve the best. Make sure the best product and services are part of your marketing option.
  11. The first credit card was introduced in 1950. Boomers have never known a world where financing wasn’t available. Easy financing must be part of your marketing message to this group.
  12. To the Boomer generation, technology and the Internet are about information and productivity, unlike Millennials who use it to stay connected. With Boomers, your marketing message can’t solely rely on social media and the Internet. Boomers still want a personal relationship with your company.

Yes, Boomers have lost the position as the largest generation, but when identifying who and how to sell HVACR and plumbing products, remember this generation still holds the purchasing clout.


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