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If you had asked me what “old” was when I was in grade school, I probably would have said anyone over the age of 35.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit my understanding and interpretation of “old” has changed, but the same can’t be said for everybody.

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers have presented many problems to marketers over the years.  Too often Boomers are painted with a broad, stereotypical brush that defines them as doddering old fools obsessed with coupons and BINGO nights.

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While this may be true for certain individuals, designing your marketing strategies or loyalty campaigns around these ideas is a surefire way to alienate a large group of customers.  When designing loyalty programs for baby boomers, it’s important to understand their lifestyle and build a program that fits it.

Understanding the Boomer Lifestyle

If we’re going to design a loyalty program that Baby Boomers will be fighting to sign up for, we need to unpack what they’re looking for and what they need from rewards programs.

1. Value

Everybody loves good value, and Boomers are no different.  With a relish for research, Boomers will spend lots of time reading up on brands and their competitors in order to ensure they’re getting the best from the products they buy.  A loyalty program that offers additional value like product recommendations is a great way to catch and hold their attention.

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You could also partner with another reputable brand to offer exclusive products only available to your loyalty program members.  This type of reward demonstrates a commitment to great customer service and anticipates your customer’s needs, making your brand that much more valuable than your competitors’.

2. Financial Stability & Luxury

As I mentioned before, Baby Boomers aren’t sitting around at home wearing plastic visors while they pinch pennies and cut out coupons.  Quite the opposite actually, as Boomers are currently the most financially successful customer demographic.  With over 90% of them being financially stable, the rewards your program offers should be more than simply offering discounts.

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Tiered programs are an excellent way to entice Baby Boomers.  Just like everybody else Boomers like to feel special, and since only 36% of them are willing to buy off-brands to save money, you can rest assured that you have a solid customer base who is willing to pay more to get more.

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Besides adding additional value, exclusive rewards give your loyalty program a sophistication and professionalism that fixed discounts alone simply can’t deliver.

3. Customization & Personalization

Another way to look at Boomers’ spending patterns is through the lens of luxury.  Many retirees are looking to upgrade their lifestyle, which means adding more amenities to their day-to-day life. Studies also show that 67% of Baby Boomers are planning to spend more money on their hobbies upon retiring, which means that there’s going to be even more disposable income flying through the ecommerce pipeline.

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This focus on hobbies is huge.  Since hobbies vary from person to person, it clearly illustrates the need for customization within your loyalty program.  While I’m not recommending that you offer your customers free fishing trips or sports cars to match their interests, you can personalize their shopping experience in a variety of ways.  Providing product recommendations based on their spending history and customized emails are only two examples of how you can personalize your customer’s experience.

4. Tech-Enabled

Too often we forget that Baby Boomers were already in the workforce while technology was evolving.  This means that they were the first to embrace and understand the value of technology, and makes mobile optimization extremely important for your loyalty program.

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Currently, around 82% of Boomers are comfortable using the Internet for everyday tasks like banking and communicating, with 92% of them using it to stay connected with family.  These stats make it clear that social media is a huge opportunity for customer engagement, so why not reward them for it?

Linking your loyalty program to social sharing is a win-win solution, as it provides your customers with an easy way to earn additional rewards while promoting your brand across the ever-expanding realm of the Web.  Comfortable with high traffic outlets like Facebook and Twitter, Baby Boomers could become your secret weapon as brand influencers, inspiring others to explore your products and services.

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Leveraging email campaigns is another fantastic way to endear Baby Boomers to your brand.  96% of the Boomer population uses email regularly, and 92% are known to click-through and explore the products being advertised.  These are great numbers to keep in mind, because they indicate that a simple drip campaign will be fruitful for you in multiple ways: it’ll keep you top of mind while also initiating even more interactions with your brand.

5. Simplicity

I don’t want to sound overdramatic, but this is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when designing a program for Baby Boomers and could make or break their decision to participate.

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Think about it: they’ve been looking forward to their retirement so that they can sit back, relax, and do the things they love without any stress or hassle.  With this in mind, any loyalty program that’s trying to recruit them should meet them where they are in their life.

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The best part about simplicity is that it is, well, simple.  Offering your customers a rewards program without a physical card that is optimized for multiple devices is going to be more desirable than one that isn’t.  Simply put (pun intended), simplicity means a seamless integration into everyday life.

Keeping Your Business Booming

In general, Baby Boomer’s don’t believe in loyalty for loyalty’s sake, which means they could be a challenge to win over.  Once that loyalty is won however, they’ll remain loyalty until the very end, which is a huge victory for you as a merchant.

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Baby Boomers were raised in the Age of Consumerism, meaning they were groomed to buy.  Harnessing this buying potential can be realized through the initiation of a loyalty program that takes the reality of Boomers’ lifestyles into account.  By developing a tiered program that is simple, optimized for multiple devices, and personalized, you’ll be able to move 80 million potential customers that much closer to the checkout.

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