This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about targeting baby boomer consumers.

Chris Schultz is managing director of Senioragency, an advertising and marketing agency that specialises in reaching consumers aged 50-plus.

How big is the baby boomer market in New Zealand and what kind of spending power do they have?

Baby boomers are those that fall into the 50 to 69-year-old age group, and there are just over 1 million of them in New Zealand. So they account for just under a quarter of the population, but they do hold considerable buying power. Boomers are more than likely mortgage free, most have children who have left home, they're asset rich and are at the peak of their earning capacity. Of all the consumer segments, boomers have the highest disposable income; they account for more than 50 percent of all disposable income in New Zealand - more than the combined disposable incomes of Millennials, Gen Xers and retirees. In particular, they're big consumers of health and wellbeing, travel and lifestyle products.

To what extent are businesses, particularly smaller ones, taking advantage of the opportunities the baby boomer market presents?


There are very few big businesses that have identified the boomer opportunity. For example, 60 percent of all new cars are bought by people in this age group, yet car ads always show people in their thirties. But smaller, local businesses see the opportunity because they're more closely in touch with their customers and are more flexible. When you're next at a restaurant, scan the room and see who's dining; in most places, most diners would be aged 50-plus.

Gyms like Bodytech in Auckland are specifically catering for boomers; you'll see their advertising actually features boomers, and they develop programmes and services specifically with that age group in mind. While Bodytech is more expensive than some other gyms, boomers are willing to pay for what they see as superior service and brand experiences catering to them.

What strategies can small businesses use to more effectively connect with these consumers?

More than any other consumers, boomers like to be recognised for their purchase, patronage and loyalty. Personalised service, individualised or customised communication, special offers, exclusivity and innovation are all a must when you're trying to reach this group.

COMING UP: Blogging is one way some small businesses are building brands and creating a following for their products or services. Why and how have some small business owners started blogging and what benefits are they seeing in their operations? If you've got a story to share, drop me a note:

Boomers are also easy to reach online; our research has shown that more than 85 percent are online daily. And with digital marketing coming of age, it's now easier to segment markets and target boomers, and a lot of digital marketing is more cost effective than traditional media. Digital marketing is now what I call 'in the moment' marketing, because it allows you to be in the right place with the right message for the right people at the right time. So messages that are personalised, customised and exclusive are all able to be directed online at boomers through some cost effective market segmentation strategies.