In case you haven't noticed our blogs the last few weeks, we've explored general core values and buying habits for each generation in our Cannabis Generational Marketing Series. So far we've learned a lot about Millennials and Gen X, but there's one last audience segment that cannabis companies should pay particular attention to: Baby Boomers!
Logistically speaking, Baby Boomers are the post World War II demographic, including people who are now 52-70 years old. Whatever you do, don't call them "elderly" or "senior." Instead of treating Baby Boomers like a fragile generation, cannabis companies should convey messaging that speaks to this group's past experiences and accomplishments and what's yet to come in their future!
Things sure have changed in the last 50 years of cannabis use. Using a blow torch for dabbing might be intimidating for Baby Boomers who are reintroducing themselves to marijuana legally, but cannabusinesses have so much to offer for this generation. Baby Boomers grew up with very unique views and experiences of cannabis use. According to Chuck Underwood, cannabusinesses need to be sensitive to those experiences, as some Boomers "viewed it as a gateway drug, while others saw it as safe." To help you think about your cananbusiness brand strategy, consider the following Baby Boomer traits:
1) THEY'RE MORE TECH SAVVY THAN YOU THINK
Baby Boomers grew up in a world without cell phones, tablets and online shopping, but that doesn't mean they haven't adopted today's world of technology in their lives. While they might not always run out to purchase the newest tech product on the market, they do their research and make thoughtful purchasing decisions. The Internet is now a valuable tool that provides Boomers convenience, education and freedom. Like Millennials and Gen Xers, Boomers consider themselves heavy internet users. In fact, 66% of people over 50 routinely make purchases online.
Boomers value customer service and prefer one-on-one interaction. In the "good ol' days," when they needed help, they spoke to a person, not an automated messaging service. Though Baby Boomers prefer personalized customer service, you probably won't find them venturing into a dispensary without more background information first. Boomers are beginning to experiment with cannabis, but are not sure what products they actually want or need. Cannabis companies should be available by phone to answer any questions, but can also take advantage of tech savvy Boomers by making their products available for online purchase. To ease the worries and uncertainty of Boomers who are trying cannabis for the first time, brands should focus on educating customers through their website and Facebook, providing information on the different methods of consuming cannabis and how to properly use products. Once they feel more knowledgeable and comfortable with cannabis use, Baby Boomers might be more likely to visit a brick and mortar store or dispensary.
2) THEY HAVE ACHES AND PAINS
Baby Boomers' cannabis consumption is expected to grow faster than any other demographic, and it's hardly a surprise. Sure, this age group may be trying marijuana again out of nostalgia (hello, Woodstock!), but Boomers are finding that cannabis is providing relief for health issues that come with age. As this demographic gets older, they are learning that cannabis products may provide an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. Cannabis companies should provide education to Boomers on how their products can improve mental and physical wellness.
Many people above the age of 50 are hesitant to consume cannabis by way of traditional smoking. It's wise for an edible company, for example, to develop products with grandma and grandpa in mind. Low dose hard candies or lozenges might fare better among this generation as opposed to high dose sugary brownies and cookies. Additionally, tinctures, topicals and ointments are less intimidating and provide relief for aches and pains without psychoactive effects. While the product is the first step, the actual package design and brand messaging are most important. The brand should speak to a 50-65 year old, not a Millennial.
3) THEY HAVE BUCKET LISTS
Just because Boomers are getting older, that doesn't mean their sense of adventure is lacking. Though they may have aches and pains, Baby Boomers still enjoy an active lifestyle — traveling, being outside and planning vacations or excursions to create unique experiences and lasting memories. Cannabis companies can cater to the idea of a "bucket list" by creating brands that promote luxurious, adventure-seeking, or relaxing lifestyles.
According to a Pew study, the average Baby Boomer feels nine years younger than his or her actual age. However, that doesn't mean a brand or product made for a 40-year old will necessarily resonate with a 55-year old. Instead of promoting your cannabis-infused topical as just a solution to aging, aching joints, explain how this relief will be beneficial when it comes to the European adventure or golf outing they've been planning. Edible companies can promote an active lifestyle on their website, product packaging and social media accounts by showing imagery and telling brand stories that inspire Baby Boomers!
Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have unique life experiences, values, and pain points that influence their purchasing decisions. While all generations enjoy or benefit from consuming cannabis, it's important for brands to empathize with these groups individually. Not all products and services will resonate with every generation...and that's okay! By understanding the core values and needs of each generation, your cannabis brand can utilize appropriate messaging and design that doesn't speak to "everyone," but directly to your target customer.