Boomers: The Active Radio Listener Advertisers Ignore


Westwood One Director of Content Marketing Lauren Vetrano, like colleague Pierre Bouvard, isn’t shy when it comes to sharing insights that tout the benefits of Radio.

In a fresh blog post, Vetrano tackles a subject marketers have largely participated in only as polite listeners: Baby Boomers are active, largely employed and have disposable income that’s hard to ignore.

Yet, they are largely ignored by brand after brand, with a focus instead on Millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Perhaps marketers shouldn’t ignore the Boomers by using Radio as a vehicle for reaching them, and achieving strong ROI.

“While many advertisers insist on focusing their energies on younger Millennials, the Boomer audience dominates spending potential,” Vetrano says.

Advertisers, especially those in fields like health, devices, travel, and financial, should take note, she suggests.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, by 2020 persons 50+ will account for 36% of the total U.S. population. From 2020 to 2030, the persons 50+ population is forecast to increase 11%.

Boomers are desirable consumers:

  • Employed: With Americans living longer, they work for extended periods of time. A Video Advertising Bureau Analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds 46% of persons 50+ were employed in 2018, up 21% from 2008. Four in 10 Americans expect to work until they are 70 years or older, according to Northwestern Mutual’s Planning & Progress 2018 study.
  • Massive disposable income: Forbes reports the Oxford Economics finding showing, “Americans over 50 already account for $7.6 trillion in direct spending … and control more than 80% of household wealth.” Acxiom data reveals Boomers 50+ represent 54% of all disposable income.
  • Active and big shoppers: Persons 55+ have a more active lifestyle than Millennials. They spend 56% more time doing leisure activities and sports and 22% more time shopping than Millennials 25-34, according to the VAB.

Further, Nielsen Scarborough “proves” Boomer buying power, revealing that the persons 50+ annual spend reaches nearly $500 million across categories like home improvement, home remodeling, furniture, and landscaping.

Ignoring the Boomer consumer can be costly for brands

Vetrano points to Gransnet’s Ageism in Advertising: Fighting Marketing’s Unconscious Bias Report, which shows that 77% of persons 50-59 feel their age group is most ignored by advertisers.

The real risk? 49% of persons 50+ ignore brands who actively ignore their age group.

The lesson: If you don’t pay attention to Boomers, they won’t pay attention to your brand.

Advertisers can use AM/FM radio to reach and influence Boomers.

With a 94% weekly reach, AM/FM radio delivers nearly all persons 50-64. According to Nielsen’s latest Q2 2019 Total Audience Report, AM/FM radio reaches more persons 50-64 than live and time-shifted TV (92%), apps/web on a smartphone (85%), and social media on a smartphone (79%).

AM/FM radio’s reach among persons 50-64 is highest during hours when stores are open, making it the ideal medium to reach shoppers on the go. Nielsen Audio’s Nationwide data shows AM/FM radio’s highest reach during the day is Monday through Friday, 3PM-7PM (78%) when Americans are getting out of work and commuting home.

AM/FM radio’s reach is also high among persons 50-64 Monday through Friday during mornings 6AM-10AM (72%), middays 10AM-3PM (74%), and on the weekends (74%). Advertisers can utilize AM/FM radio to reach Boomers living an active lifestyle with disposable income during these key shopping windows.

Two-thirds (68%) of all persons 50-64 listening takes place away from home. AM/FM radio is an on the go medium that often delivers the last advertising consumers are exposed to before they reach their shopping destinations and make decisions at the register.

AM/FM radio also has massive time spent among persons 50-64. Weekly, persons 50-64 spend an average of 14 hours and 35 minutes with AM/FM radio. Daily, they are clocking an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes with AM/FM radio.

Lastly, Vetrano points out that many AM/FM radio formats deliver significant weekly reach among persons 50-64: Adult Contemporary (41%), Country (28%), News (28%), Oldies (25%), and Classic Rock (22%).