Baby Boomers and Design: How to Turn the 55+ Audience Into Loyal Fans

by The Creative Cloud Team

posted on 07-20-2017

The stork started delivering Baby Boomers just after the end of World War II. “Sixty Is the New Forty!” is the Boomers’ battle cry. They’re hooked into 2017 technology but still love Sixties rock. Many are multi-screeners who watch TV while scrolling through social media.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 50+ population spends $3.2 trillion annually, 50 percent of consumer expenditures. Yet a mere 10% of marketing dollars are targeted to them, providing a huge opportunity for designers and businesses to impact purchasing decisions.

How do you and your clients market to Boomers? What’s the ideal way to depict them in digital and print media? How do you design websites and apps they will return to again and again? What features and benefits will transform them into repeat customers?

Adobe has assembled a virtual panel of experts, most Baby Boomers themselves, to share their insights.

Accessible design is simply good design.

David Berman, 55, Accessibility and Inclusivity Consultant

“The world is being redesigned so that it’s easier to get older. Many innovations have come about from designing for extreme challenges. When you design for disability, the results benefit everybody. The rolling suitcase was designed for people with limited mobility. Now who doesn’t have a rolling suitcase? Siri was invented for people who need to use voice commands. It was a life-changer for some and now is a convenience for many.

That kind of design thinking results in excellence for all of us.

Featuring images of healthy, active older people enjoying products is not pandering, but be sure to show them in an environment like a house with few steps, wide doorways, and no scatter rugs that could cause them to slip and fall. Those images reinforce the idea that your life is far from over. We’re just going to make it easier, safer, and better.”

Bigger type is appreciated, but so is style.

David Grossman, 67, President of ico-D, the International Council of Design

“I tell my students what they cannot comprehend: On your fiftieth birthday you wake up and become aware of a conspiracy that has caused all type to become so small it’s unreadable.

Nevertheless, I feel like we Boomers are the last generation that’s not cynical and still has hopes for a better world. I’m loyal to products that serve me with efficiency — larger type included — and style.”

Combine timeless design with ease of use.

Christopher Scardino, 34, IT Consultant

“My Boomer clients’ favorite brands seem to speak to the glory days of their ‘Woodstock-Summer of Love’ youth, but don’t remind them of how long ago that was. Like Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which has a fun Sixties vibe but appeals to all ages. And OXO Good Grips kitchen tools, which were invented to help the owner’s wife cope with arthritis, but are marketed to everyone.

Concentrate on timeless design and ease of use and your product or campaign has a better chance of success. No more thick manuals or going through elaborate installations with CDs and serial numbers. With one click, off you go.”

Don’t shy away from diversity in imagery.

Roslyn Mickelson, Ph.D., 70, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy

“Be aware of diversity in race, class, and geography. Don’t just show white guys playing the guitar and riding motorcycles. Don’t only show gray-blonde women making pottery and gardening. Instead of a couple moving to a gated community, show racially diverse people in nontraditional relationships moving in with their children and grandchildren. And remember that many 55- to 72-year-old citizens were immigrants or children of immigrants. Show multigenerational, multicultural families eating or watching sports together on TV. Show grandmas taking care of grandchildren. How about a whole bunch of grandmas watching little kids in the park?

Picturing people of all ages accurately without condescending will give your work authenticity that will resonate.”

Messaging matters. Make the fine print the big print.

Michael Shamosh, 68, Investment Manager

“In today’s business world, there’s a lot of fine print that’s difficult to read and understand. I’d advise advertisers and designers to provide enough information to help everyone make an informed decision. I would change the general directive to ‘make the type bigger’ to ‘make the fine print the big print.’ If you give detailed information in clear, non-legal language, accompanied by eye-catching design, your product and service will earn more trust and give you an advantage.”

One thing that shines through our experts’ advice: Designers must create messages and visuals — whether on the web, in print, or on TV — that resonate as authentic and truthful. Crafting those projects takes focus and collaboration. And, especially for those multi-screening consumers — who also read newspapers and magazines and get direct mail — it takes consistency across media and platforms. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams helps you ensure that your designs are on-brand, fresh, and relevant to the audience.

Seventy-six million strong, comprising 25% of the population, and living longer than ever before, Americans 55+ are a key market segment. Designing for them and turning them into loyal fans of your brand is an exciting challenge.

Topics: Design