GWI, the global consumer research company, published its 2024 “Connecting the dots” report about the biggest consumer trends for the upcoming year.
In the report, GWI revealed a notable consumer trend termed “Social boomers,” emphasizing the growing engagement of older consumers, particularly baby boomers, with social media and e-commerce platforms. This demographic has seen a significant 57% increase in TikTok usage since the second quarter of 2021, and they are more likely than Gen Z to make online purchases weekly.
Traditionally, brands focused on younger demographics like millennials and Gen Z, often neglecting the older consumer base. However, baby boomers are now spending more time on social media, with Facebook as their preferred platform, and they are expanding to others like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Reddit. This shift indicates a broader interest in entertainment and brand engagement.
Notably, baby boomers’ engagement with video-based apps like TikTok is reshaping their social media usage. Their presence on Instagram and “X” (formerly Twitter) grew by 8% and 4%, respectively, while Snapchat and Reddit saw a 16% increase in usage among this group. The number of boomers following influencers for content has also grown by 22% since Q2 2021.
Older influencers are gaining traction on these platforms, countering ageist stereotypes and attracting sizeable followings. Brands like Trinny London have successfully tapped into this market, creating large online communities targeting older women, contributing to significant revenues.
In terms of online shopping, boomers are more likely than Gen Z to buy products online weekly. Financially, 63% of boomers have a credit card compared to 41% of Gen Z, and 39% of boomers made an online purchase in the last week, against 35% for Gen Z. Additionally, 30% of boomers are in the high-income group versus 21% for Gen Z, and they possess higher purchasing power (23% vs. 8% for Gen Z).
Despite their economic influence, boomers feel underrepresented in advertising. Research by CreativeX shows that older groups in ads are typically depicted in family or domestic settings, with less than 1% in professional roles. This overlooks the 24% of employed boomers who identify as career-focused, the 35% interested in exploring the world, and the 31% engaged in live events.
The insights suggest that businesses can benefit from adjusting their marketing strategies to authentically represent and engage with older generations. With a significant portion of boomers having substantial savings, they represent a reliable and active consumer base, in contrast to the financially constrained younger generations. By recognizing and catering to the unique preferences and online behavior of baby boomers, brands can tap into their considerable spending power for broader market success.