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  • Baby boomers are getting new attention from marketers in the pandemic.
  • One agency exec says clients like Mercedes-Benz are increasing advertising to boomers by up to 40%.
  • But changing marketing strategy can be a big pivot and requires care in getting the message right.

After spending most of their advertising to reach Gen Z and Millennials, some advertisers are giving their parents a second look.

They’re seeing boomers getting vaccinated, resuming travel, and spending the stockpiles of money they saved during the pandemic on everything from home improvement to the nostalgic brands they love.

“All of our brands and businesses that look at the boomer consumer are booming,” said Nicole Penn, president of ad agency EGC Group. “Boomers, unlike other generations like Millennials, don’t have younger children, and they’re spending across all categories.”

EGC’s own research shows boomers are increasing spend by 10% to 15% this year. Penn said the agency’s clients including Mercedes-Benz, home office supplies maker Brother, and candles maker Glasshouse Fragrances are increasing targeting efforts to baby boomers by 30% to 40% as a result.

In fact, she said, Mercedes-Benz and Brother are struggling to keep up with the increased demand from boomers.

Craig Millon, chief client officer of IPG's Jack Morton Worldwide, said he's also seeing clients in categories like alcohol and travel and tourism are spending more to target older generations including boomers.

"Boomers have been through quite a few dips in the economy so they are resilient and active to spend," Millon said. "They're going to buy plane tickets, get on a cruise, buy cars. They don't need any pushing. What brands are doing is trying to win them."

Nostalgia is one big selling point for boomers.

Dave Kersey, SVP and executive media director for agency GSD&M, said he's having "many" conversations with clients about shifting strategies to target boomers with travel, retail, mid-luxury, and "nostalgic" clients.

"It's not as easy as a quick pivot; it requires a strategic shift in marketing, operations, and everything in-between," Kersey said. "But brands are recognizing the opportunity."

Penn said messaging to boomers shouldn't "make them feel like the silver generation. They are youthful; the messaging and tone should be modern," she said.

Advertisers traditionally use TV ads to target older people, but ad execs said Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest also work well with boomers who have gotten more accustomed to online shopping when physical stores closed in the pandemic.

A March 2020 AdShark Marketing study found boomers actually made 20% more online purchases than Millennials.

"A lot of people spent an insane amount of time focused on Millennials," Millon said. "Boomers are an incredibly good, loyal, and wealthy segment of our population that probably does not get as much attention as they used to."

Some advertisers will argue there's greater longterm value in targeting younger generations. "The Gen Z audience is critical to re-energize some brands," Kersey said.

But advertisers can indirectly reach younger generations while marketing to boomers because they share their brand experiences with their children and grandchildren, said Steven Seghers, CEO of Hooray Agency.

"Give the boomer a reason to love your brand," Seghers said. "The boomer generation brings other generations with them."

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