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Acquiring Digital Readers? New Media Will Not Help You

  |  October 29, 2012   |  Comments

Baby boomers are still creating brands - and now digital brands; so how do you reach them?

This column has been updated from its original edition.

Our close to 80 million baby boomers have the highest amount of disposable income of all the classifications of segmented generations. They spend $2.3 trillion a year on products and services they connect with. This generation lived in a unique timeframe where they actually built brands.

Baby boomers popularized brands like Popsicle and Gerber baby food, among others. This generation grew up helping create some of the biggest brands still known today. In fact, CNBC put a great slideshow together on top boomer brands here.

Success with most magazines relies on attracting many of the readers from the baby boomer generation. And, according to a Pew Research study, 60 percent of these people reportedly buy from brands who "understand" how to connect with the generation. How to acquire these readers is key, especially for digital. Here are some things you need to know about reaching this group:

  1. Device adoption is inevitable - 96 percent will use it for fitness and financial management.
  2. Digital management is life - 82 percent use their calendar function, 64 percent use email to manage their life.
  3. Friends keep you informed - 30 percent use social comments for buying decisions.

Device adoption is a great thing. It acts as a bridge between generations - content boomers grew up with, and are now married to the new device they use to manage their life.

But, be warned! Just because this group represents heavy device owners and users, it doesn't mean new media is the best way to sell to them. Here are some things to consider:

  • Anything online or via phone will take longer to "sink in." Boomers are more concerned about privacy.
  • Social media doesn't "sell" well with this generation. They are not as continually on social media. And, when they are, they use social for product validation.
  • AOL is still a go-to destination for many media searches. Boomers have different notions of what's news, compared to Gen Yers who think whatever they do is news and worthy of an update to their worlds.
  • Search is used for full URL searches. It is considered a trusted "new media" element to a boomer.
  • Health information is the third most common search activity for adults of all ages.

Media that tends to work with the baby boomers for acquisition of digital publishing includes:

  • AOL banners (especially on games)
  • Search
  • Points or discount-driven sites
  • Email
  • In-store ads
  • Public place ads (e.g., doctors' offices)
  • TV

Which media do you feel works best for your baby boomer targeting?

Baby Boomer image on home page via Shutterstock.



Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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