What brands need to know about reaching today’s empty-nesters

By Stacy DeBroff

Ready for some surprising facts about today’s empty-nesters?

  • 89% have a Facebook account
  • 72% use their Smartphone to visit social media sites
  • 9 out of 10 consider themselves “texters”

These findings, from Influence Central’s new research study in collaboration with Vibrant Nation, revealed startling new insights about this generation’s ease with online technology and social media. While empty-nesters did not grow up surrounded by electronics as Millennials did – unless you count electric typewriters – they’ve embraced the challenge and now navigate freely throughout the online world.

Turning away from traditional media

Marketers mistakenly still think of empty-nesters as the news show generation – women inspired by primetime TV spots – and still immersed in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. Yet our survey of more than 600 women, 45 and up, reveals a vastly different reality. Nearly 70 percent of empty-nesters feel skeptical about traditional ads, with 60 percent tuning them out entirely because they don’t feel they’re accurately targeted.

Moreover, empty-nesters say traditional media no longer impacts their purchasing decisions, with only 15 percent more likely to purchase a product when it’s showcased on a favorite TV or talk show. Just 12 percent are more likely to purchase a product when it’s used in a compelling ad.

In search of online recommendations

So what does move the purchasing needle with this generation? Overwhelmingly, empty-nesters look to word-of-mouth and personal recommendations to sway their purchase path. More than 95 percent say they seek out online product reviews for feedback and first-person recommendations before they make a spend.

In addition, 80 percent of empty-nesters consider first-person recommendations online before making a purchase, and 79 percent are more likely to purchase a product if it receives a high star rating on a retail e-commerce site. Finally, 56 percent of empty-nesters say a negative online review would cause them not to visit a store or restaurant.

Moving the purchasing needle

Beyond purchase path influences, empty-nesters have even moved their consumer purchases online – with 85 percent shopping online for convenience and 64 percent making e-commerce spends from their tablets. And 44 percent of empty-nesters download coupons from their Smartphone.

The challenge for marketers

As empty-nesters demonstrate their online fluency, brands need to recalibrate their marketing strategies to reflect empty-nesters’ immersion in the online and digital world. Brands need to develop forward-thinking strategies that map to how empty-nesters act as consumers – from their adoption of the online recommendation culture to their embrace of mobile technology to their reliance on e-commerce.

Today’s empty-nesters remain strong, confident, and adventurous consumers, and brands using outdated approaches to reach them will risk losing their trust – and their purchasing dollars.

Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, is a social media strategist, attorney, and best-selling author. A frequent national and international speaker, she consults with brands on consumer and social media trends. You can reach her at [email protected].



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