Baby Boomers--those born between 1946 and 1964--account for nearly one-third of the online population, making them the largest age group on the net, according to a July 2005 study by Jupitermedia Corp. The study also found that boomers are the dominant online shoppers--76 percent have purchased products or services online, and they tend to spend more online than those in the 18-39 and 60-plus age groups.
There are some general rules to follow to attract this group, says Sharon P. Whiteley, president and CEO of ThirdAge Inc., an online media and direct-marketing company that focuses on serving adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Whiteley, a baby boomer herself, suggests you:
1. Show boomers how your product or service will benefit them. "We will not succumb to bogus claims and aggressive sales techniques," Whiteley says. "Online retailers need to explain the benefits of the product, its risks and how it can give us a better quality of life."
2. Design your site with boomers in mind. Slightly increase your text size, and use high color contrast between type and background (but dark backgrounds with white type are hard to read). Ensure checkout instructions are clear, and make it easy to connect with an actual human being at any point in the process.
3. Do business the old-fashioned way. This goes for all customers. "Remember dependability, quality, empathy, responsiveness and trust," Whiteley says. Train representatives so they're knowledgeable and respectful. "And remember to say 'thank you' often."