9 tips for marketing to baby boomers

Jason Van Steenwyk
| 5 min. read
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Every time Baby Boomers go through a life transition—teen to adult, single to married with children, empty nesters, and now, into retirement—by sheer weight of numbers, it reshapes the American economy.

For example, in the 50s and 60s, they drove cultural trends, as they were born into the the growing suburbs of America, which were safe havens for post-WWII veterans and their children.

When they started putting money into their retirement plans in the early 80s, Boomers set in motion the biggest bull market in stocks in the 20th century.

And today, they are driving the rental housing market, as many of them are selling their homes and moving into apartments and condos to save themselves money and stress.

That’s just not postulation, either: according to Freddie Mac, nearly 6 million homeowners over the age of 55 are planning to make at least one more move—back into a rental unit. The number of renters age 60 or older is expected to double from 2010 levels by the year 2030, according to research by the Urban Institute.

With more financial resources than many of the younger renters, they are more dependable, and can afford higher end units. And they expect property owners to deliver on that. Here’s how you can attract renters from the Boomer generation.

Highlight 1-Story Floor Plans

Baby Boomers are 4.5 times more likely than Millennials to say they want a single-level floor plan, according to a 2015 study from J Turner Research and Multifamily Executive. That said, be sure to mention your 1-story floor plans in your marketing and advertising. It shouldn’t hurt your advertising with other generations, either.

Connect with Public Transit

Depending on where you are and what market you’re serving, Baby Boomers approaching their 60s probably don’t want to walk a mile to the nearest train or bus stop. If you’re far from the nearest hub, you may want to add a shuttle that goes to transport stations, and even local amenities.

Make Security a Top Concern

Because Boomers aren’t quite as price sensitive as Millennials, adding a security detail to your buildings may well be worth the investment. You may not need a whole team of people: surveillance cameras, lighting, and good fencing are great investments too.

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Enhance Curb Appeal

J Turner research found that almost one in four Boomers don’t use social media to view properties, but they’re more likely to drive by properties to check them out. That said, if you haven’t invested in curb appeal—clear signage, good lighting, landscaping, paint and maintenance, you may not make it to a second cut.

Check Out Your Reviews

Millennials may be more likely to trust online reviews, but the Boomer crowd may read a good review and hop in the car to come check out the property (see #4, above). Remember that if you get a bad review, you should respond (proactively) as soon as possible.

Create or Update Recreational Spaces

If you have a space like a tennis court that is going unused, it may be time for an upgrade: consider converting tennis courts to pickleball, a variant of tennis that NBC News has named “the fastest-growing sport in America.” Periodically check your facilities and amenities mix against how you want to position yourself in the market, both in terms of appealing to select demographics and differentiating yourself from other companies. It is worth considering if your target demographic would be better served with a bocce ball green or miniature golf course than a tennis court.

Think LinkedIn

These days, a social media strategy is a must. And, while Facebook is still king for both, Millennials and Baby Boomers differ in the platform they use second-most-often: 23 percent of Boomers prefer LinkedIn, while Instagram is second for Millennials by a wide margin. Once you’re on LinkedIn, there’s no need to go overboard: the J. Turner survey found that only 13 percent of respondents research apartments via Facebook or Twitter. But, targeted advertising does increase awareness and make it more likely that the user will consider your property when searching on other sites.

Talk About Your Larger Units

It’s not just a matter of being able to afford it: Baby Boomers are moving out of two- or three-bedroom homes, with the furniture to fill all that space. Of course, they’ll be downsizing some, but if all you’ve got are 750-square-foot studios, they may look elsewhere.

Think Entertainment and Social Areas

Baby Boomers tend to look for useable spaces for entertaining and company. Social and entertainment areas like the living room, kitchen and dining room are the most important.

Want to learn more? Check out the J Turner/Multifamily Executive survey here.

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Jason Van Steenwyk

Jason is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an avid fiddler. His articles have been published in a number of real estate publications including Wealth and Retirement Planner and Bankrate.com. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his cat, Sasha, and an unknown number of musical instruments.

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