Boomer Women: A Market Superpower

Women will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the next decade.

September 20, 2011

Despite the size of female boomer market, many financial institutions take it for granted.

The baby boomer market is so large that subsets can be considered mass markets in themselves. This is certainly the case with boomer women, according to “Marketing to Baby Boomers,” a white paper from the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council.

Women control the finances in many, if not most, American households. Considering baby boomers number 76 million, boomer women are a sizeable market.

Despite the size of female boomer market, many financial institutions take it for granted.

Mary Brown and Carol Orsborn, co-authors of “Boom: Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer—the Baby Boomer Woman,” list six elements financial institutions may not know about boomer women:

  • Women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. in the next 10 years. Boomer women will influence as much as 80% of the $2.1 trillion boomers spend on consumer goods and services.
  • Many boomer women are at the peak of their earning potential. Eight of 10 say they don’t plan to retire.
  • Many boomer women will manage inheritances from parents and husbands, as most will outlive their husbands by six to nine years.
  • Women are responsible for more than half of all purchases, even in areas considered to be male. Women make 80% of home improvement decisions, spend more than $55 billion annually on consumer electronics, account for 65% for all new automobiles sold, and buy 66% of computers.
  • Women ages 35 to 54 years old made up the highest proportion of web surfers. Direct catalog marketers estimate that women constitute 70% of online purchasers, the majority of whom are boomers.
  • Boomer women aren’t set in their ways. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, 68% of women over age 35 old say that the older they get, the more they enjoy trying new things.

Time is money

Baby boomers have little time to spare and seek out products and services that save time and effort.

Boomers place a great deal of value on time, according to a Yankelovich Monitor study, which asked respondents to place a value on one minute of their time. Boomers valued their time the most at $2 per minute, double every other generational cohort and more than the $1.25 per minute average.

Credit unions should make sure their websites are easy to use and quick to navigate. If it takes more than three clicks or eight seconds to find a product, consumers will go elsewhere.

Next: How boomer women buy

How boomer women buy

According to authors Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned, women shop in a process that involves consulting friends, comparison shopping, checking reference sources, and getting validation from experts and as well as word of mouth sources.

Jonhson and Learned say:

  • Women are constituent-driven decision makers. This means their purchases are made with their “constituents” in mind—spouse, children, grandchildren, aging parents, employees and friends.

So when designing a marketing campaign for a financial product or service, plan it for the women’s constituents as well. Position your services and offers on how they’ll benefit others in her life as well as her.

  • Women seek continuing relationships and expert information. When trying a new product, women will typically ask someone who owns the product. That person can serve as an expert source of information.
  • Credit unions are the financial experts and trusted advisors. Boomer women are hungry for unbiased financial information without the ever-present sales hustle.
  • Most women (70%) need help managing their finances, according to a survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Also, 76% of women say they have credit card debt and 35% use their cards frequently and carry balances.
  • Women comparison shop. Women will look at products’ prices, benefits, and features. They’ll also go online to search for the best available financial product or service. Why not be proactive and list the prices of your credit union’s rates and how they compare with your competitors’?

Online surveys gauge women’s interest

Because boomer women are turning to the Internet for comparison shopping for financial products and services, online surveys can be a worthwhile exercise to gauge interest in a particular product.

Online research should:

  • Pose questions in a fun, conversational tone;
  • Package the experience as self-discovery and entertainment;
  • Be simple to sign in and start;
  • Include incentives that motivate participation;
  • Thank members for their participation;
  • Let members opt out of the surveys at any time;
  • Be brief; and
  • Use participants’ e-mail addresses for survey purposes only.

Research efforts shouldn’t ask for unnecessary personal information, include long surveys, or provide incentives that are worthless.

If you put the time and energy into a survey, make sure the incentive matches the credit union’s image.

“Marketing to Baby Boomers” is available free to CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, $50 for nonmembers.