Older consumers may not be as loyal as you think

WM Circle Logo

By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 25, 2007

Baby Boomers grew up with a wide choice of products and companies, and they continue to enjoy variety in their options and allegiances, according to a study by market research firm Focalyst, which found that this lucrative segment of consumers is not as loyal to brands as was previously thought.

In the study of over 30,000 US consumers aged 42+, Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) were found to frequently switch brands across a wide variety of product and service categories, including apparel, cars, prepared foods, airlines, and others. Service oriented categories such as banking and insurance companies were, however, most likely to retain the highest loyalty among this group.

       Lowest brand loyalty
1. Televisions (22%)
2. Computers (24%)
3. Apparel (27%)
4. Home appliances (30%)
5. Prepared foods (36%)
       Highest brand loyalty
1. Auto insurance (72%)
2. Home insurance (72%)
3. Medical insurance (67%)
4. Life insurance (65%)
5. Banks (63%)

Customisation is the key
According to Heather Stern, director of marketing for Focalyst, Baby Boomers tend to be most loyal when companies offer truly customised service, reflecting the generation's long-lived desire for personal attention and rewarding brand experiences.

Interestingly, Baby Boomers are generally willing to pay more if a product or service clearly shows that it can help make life easier for them. In categories such as home appliances, computers, and televisions (which score poorly for brand loyalty) marketers could develop stronger bonds with Baby Boomers by focusing more on service aspects.

Old doesn't mean loyal
Although the older generation (born before 1946) is slightly more brand loyal than their Baby Boomer counterparts, these consumers are often just as fickle when it comes to making purchase decisions. In categories where high levels of customer service are evident (such as auto and home insurance) this group is significantly more loyal compared to low service categories, where they are more likely to say that they "don't stick to any particular brand".

The implication for marketers is clear, Focalyst concluded: Older consumers need to be targeted with appropriate advertising messages offering real information about the benefits of products and services. This will help companies to develop a position as a trusted source compared to their competitors.

Putting the right message across
Messages that are simple (but not simplistic), and that are relevant to the life events that these consumers are likely to be experiencing, are essential for a meaningful connection with the older consumer. Indeed, with adults over the age of 42 accounting for some US$3 trillion dollars of annual consumer spending in the US alone (one out of every two dollars spent), marketers can't afford to under-value the contribution to their brand's success of older consumers.

Brand loyalty was one of many areas that Focalyst studied in its research, and full findings are covered in the recently released Focalyst View report. Topics include new findings on technology and internet usage, finance, health, shopping behaviour, and a data related to life values and attitudes among older consumers. The report can be obtained directly from Focalyst (a joint venture between AARP Services and the Kantar Group).

More Info: