I was recently asked to participate in a survey with other small business owners about what Boomers/Over 55 generation consumers are looking for. The company making the inquiry was concerned that anyone over 55 might not shop online, isn’t tech-savvy, fears shopping on the 'net, and doesn’t want the same kinds of products our younger generation desires. Apparently, some of our children and grandchildren don’t know where the tech-revolution of the last 50 years came from!
I felt like this was a good time to give some young, newer business owners, as well as gift-shopping consumers, a few useful insights into what makes us Boomers tick! It isn’t always pacemakers!
The reality is that Boomers are as diverse in their needs and desires as any other generations. I’ve heard it said that 70 is the new 50, so you’re just as likely to have a grandmother who is more active and fit than your gamer cousin closer to your own age.
I am lucky to have friends of all ages, and among them I count a woman in her late 60’s, recently widowed, who still hooks up the 5th wheel camper to her Ford F250 and heads out to the wilderness regularly. What kind of gifts would she appreciate?
Her hobbies and interests have her looking for personal safety gear, like strong locks, key-hiders, tasers, alarms, and classy conceal carry bags that don’t look like rodeo-wear. She wants these things in appropriate sizes for a smaller woman’s hands, and in colors other than boring black or stomach-churning PeptoBismal pink. GPS, smart watches, pocket compasses, fire starter kits, camp chairs, and warm campfire items like throw blankets and rubber soled warm booties fit the bill, too.
Sadly, several other friends are now grieving the loss of loved ones, and spend time organizing photos or writing in journals. Photo-organizers, nice leather-bound keepsake journals, and things that help convert photos and VHS tapes into digital files are useful there, and make thoughtful gift ideas as well!
My family also has Boomer-aged friends who are very active travelers, participating in touring music groups, RV’ing across the country, or heading out on frequent scuba-diving adventures. They still shop for the latest gear and accessories for their sports and hobbies, too.
Always, but especially in the time of COVID-19, many of us are increasing our intake of immune-strengthening supplements. Proven, effective skin and hair-care products, and age-appropriate makeup that won’t eat up our retirement funds are hard to find.
We love our tea and coffee, and we are ALWAYS searching for comfortable shoes, from fashionable evening wear to hiking boots. Oh, and travel clothes that don’t wrinkle, don’t look like pajamas, and are practical and stylish for outdoor use. Please, nothing that looks like “old people” clothes. We Boomers have our pride!
Personally, I love my trekking poles and new mountain bike, and wish my motorcycle jacket had more pockets. Along that line, older travelers appreciate luggage that is lightweight and easy to organize, preferably with wheels, and of course, numerous styles of pill and vitamin organizers are popular sellers for this demographic as well.
For those more home-oriented, we still have our nesting instinct, but instead of prepping for the new baby, we’re looking to decorate our indoor and outdoor living space in a way that reflects our own personalities, with a little extra space for the grandkids to visit and enjoy. We value the warmth and comfort of traditional or contemporary fireplaces, and the ambience of easy-to-operate, non-wood burning patio heaters and fire pits.
Solo entertainment items like jigsaw puzzles and brain-teaser games, books, art, crafts and discovering new music are embraced by many of us Boomers. These things make wonderful gifts for all ages, by the way!
Boomers and their not-much-younger siblings also appreciate fun designer reading glasses, reverse-folding umbrellas with easy-to-hold handles, and anything with LED lighting, from keychains to purse lights, nightlights, and patio lights. Even night-driving glasses and special blue-light glasses for screen time are appreciated, because as much as we hate to admit it, vision becomes a challenge as we age!
Last but certainly not lease, I would also add this to the gift list for your older relatives and friends: Your time. We are all well aware of the risks of in-person visits while the pandemic lives, but science and technology has given us many ways to stay in touch. A phone call and some Zoom time just might be the most special gift of all. Hearing your voice, and knowing you care, means more than another pair of socks.
That’s it from this woman’s viewpoint, at least. My husband hasn’t admitted he’s getting older yet, so when I asked him what purchases he considers, or what makes HIS life easier, he just said “more motorcycles”.
What it comes down to is that we all have a LOT of living left to do, and have to spend our money somewhere. So let’s support the businesses that value and respect the “older” generation as consumers, too.
What kinds of items do you value as gifts or online purchases for yourself? Comment below and let’s remind the new wave of shop owners that they shouldn’t write us off just yet!