They’re decades apart in age, but when it comes to consumer attitudes, Boomers have a lot in common with Millennials, said analysts speaking at the International Home + Housewares Show at Chicago’s McCormick Place, Monday.
“We call them Zoomer Boomers. Like Millennials, they follow their passions and live in the moment,” said Robin Albing, principal at the AIMsights Group, an international marketing consulting firm specializing in purchasing behaviors of Baby Boomers and Millennials.
Albing, along with AIMsights colleagues Marsha Everton, principal, and Whitney Ryan, Millennial associate, presented during the session “Two Fat Pigs in a Python: Boomers and Millennials.”
Albing said the symbol of the fat pig has been used to describe the Boomer generation as it changed society and consumer spending at every life stage. Now the digitally savvy Millennials are predicted to have as big an impact on spending as Boomers.
The most successful retailers will appeal to both generations, a strategy that Ryan called “ping-pong branding.”
Boomers are living longer, healthier lives and are remaining active well into their senior years, said Everton. Like their Millennial counterparts, Zoomer Boomers are willing to spend money but are more interested in experiences than consumer goods.
Millennials, like Boomers, have experienced economic downturns and are more frugal, said Tom Mirabile, SVP for Lifetime Brands, and the International Housewares Association’s consumer trends forecaster, in a presentation called "The New Normal: How to Survive and Thrive in Our Erratic Marketplace."
Due to a sluggish job market and increased student loan debt, frugal Millennials are postponing the milestone adulthood events of marriage, children and home ownership.
“Millennials are living in apartments longer and [like downsizing Boomers] they’re having to adapt to smaller spaces. Storage is critical,” said Mirabile.
Food and the continuing green movement are influencing members of all generations, he added. There is more cooking from scratch and consumers are continuing to buy fresh, locally grow products. This in turns raises the need for food storage options that will prolong freshness. Mirabile said there is also growing interest in food preservation methods including canning and dehydration.
Albing of AIMsights said Boomers are life-long learners and, in a reversal of tradition, they’re looking to be taught by the younger generation. Millennials still turn to older generations for advice on finances and family, but Boomers are asking Millennials for advice on technology.
“For the first time in history, the younger generation has a stronger set of specific skills and knowledge than the older generation. Our learning now flows in both generational directions,” said Albing.
And Boomers are catching on fast. According to research conducted by AIMsights, in one year, mobile app use on tablets and smartphones by Boomers increased by 433%.
“Successful retailers need to have a mobile-first strategy,” said Albing.
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