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MCSurveyMonkeyAudience-Purchase-Influence-Boomers-2015-v-2014Various recent reports have urged marketers to place more focus on Baby Boomers, who are sometimes neglected in favor of the Millennial generation. For example, a recent Forrester Research report noted that “older shoppers are… the most promising demographic.” Boomers are projected, after all, to soon account for 70% of disposable income. So how best to advertise to them?

A new MarketingCharts study takes a look at purchase influence among Baby Boomers (ages 50-68), finding more than 3 in 10 survey respondents reporting that direct mail had influenced them to purchase a product or service during the prior 6 months. Interestingly, that was the most commonly-cited purchase influencer of 16 identified, ahead of word-of-mouth and online consumer reviews.

As one might expect, there were significant differences in the stated influence of direct mail when sorting by generation, with Baby Boomers and Silents (69+) considerably more likely than Millennials (18-34) and Gen Xers (35-49) to say that direct mail had influenced a purchase. (An Excel workbook accompanies the study, detailing the full survey results by generation, gender, and household income.)

In a recent Gallup survey, Americans aged 65 and older were far more likely than those younger than 50 to say they look forward to checking the mail every day (56% vs. 36%). While that survey covered various types of mail (including letters and greeting cards), it’s worth noting that respondents who look forward to checking the mail were more likely to have a positive reaction to catalogs, advertising cards and fliers than respondents who don’t think much about checking the mail.

Meanwhile, the MarketingCharts study found this year that fewer Boomers attributed purchase influence to a number of traditional media types, including TV and print ads. But search ads bucked that trend, with strong year-over-year growth in stated influence. In fact, Boomers were as likely as Millennials to ascribe purchase influence to search engine ads, with both generations ahead of Gen Xers and Silents.

For more data concerning the 16 purchase influencers, sorted by generation, gender and household income, see the MarketingCharts study, “Advertising Channels With the Largest Purchase Influence on Consumers.” Readers interested specifically in the Baby Boomer demographic are also encouraged to check out MarketingCharts’ earlier study, “Advertising to Baby Boomers: The Why and How.”

About the Data: The MarketingCharts survey of 2,013 adults was conducted May 11-13, 2015 using SurveyMonkey Audience, a proprietary online panel. Respondents for the survey were selected to mirror the age and sex proportions of adults according to the U.S. Census.

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