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Generation Pay: Baby boomer payment trends

March 15, 2021

Baby boomers have sparked change throughout their lifetimes. Currently between 55 and 73 years old, baby boomers have been at the center of historic progress in music, fashion and shopping trends. Today they’re a generation beyond tradition: holding on to what’s worked for decades, while continuing their lifelong habit of being open to the latest and greatest technologies.

What it takes to serve the needs of boomers is changing, though, especially as they begin to exit the workforce. Many baby boomers (35%) are retired, while 40% are still working and 12% reported being self-employed. As they’ve aged, baby boomers have grown attached to traditional ways to shop and to pay. Though no longer on the cutting edge, boomers are still “hip” to change.

In baby boomers, we find a flexible and dynamic generation that holds tight to shopping and payment habits formed over a lifetime. Yet they’re also a generation open to change when those changes add value in ways that resonate. We find a generation that values quality and tradition, while gravitating toward customer experiences that prioritize ease and efficiency.

A new study from by Worldpay from FIS®, Generation Pay, explores generational payment trends and attitudes around the globe.

Catering to the modern baby boomer

Baby boomers are accustomed to having merchants cater to their desires, styles and preferences. In the prime of their financial lives, their spending power and influence as heads of households make baby boomers as influential as ever. Capitalizing on the purchasing power of baby boomers means offering a balanced mix of online, in-store and mobile shopping options as well as traditional payment methods.

The payment preferences of baby boomers are the traditional payment methods that have served them well for decades. 71% of boomers in our global survey said they’re more comfortable using the same payment methods they’ve always used, such as cash, credit cards and debit cards.

Although many baby boomers are comfortable shopping online, they still prefer retailers that have an in-store presence. When choosing retailers, they’re looking for options where it’s easy to find what they’re looking for and they can see merchandise in person. Baby boomers also appreciate being able to shop in an app. We found that 39% of boomers will choose a retailer if they can purchase through a mobile app.

Though strongly rooted in tradition, baby boomers also embrace the latest technologies. Nearly half (49%) of boomers surveyed agreed that they like to say up to date with the latest payment methods. 57% of boomers find it easier to pay using contactless methods, while 45% of baby boomers in our survey agreed that mobile wallets make it easier to pay. Brands that focus on implementing more technology can feel confident they’re not alienating a good portion of their customer base.

Baby boomers and the importance of easy

Boomers value tradition, familiarity and function. Being easy to work with is a core competency of the modern merchant. That’s especially true with baby boomers.

Traditional values are important to earn the trust of this maturing cohort. Boomers are most likely among all generations to cite the importance of a brand being known and trusted as one of the most important values when selecting a retailer. Further, 52% of baby boomers cited having exceptional customer service as an important factor in merchant selection.

Being an easy merchant for consumers to do business with is vital to reaching baby boomers. This cohort prioritizes ease of use, with 55% of boomers citing “it’s easy to find what I want” as the most or second most important factor in selecting a retailer.

For merchants that do earn their trust, boomers are very likely to reward them with their loyalty. Fully two-thirds (67%) of boomers in our survey indicated that they’d select a retailer with whom they had a loyalty program over one they did not, all other factors being equal. This highlights the importance of personalization. Brands that fully utilize the power of a loyalty program and combine that customer data will be well positioned to create excellent customer experiences for any generation.

Chart your path to payments perfection

There’s much more to learn about the purchasing power of baby boomers and how they prefer to pay while they shop online and in-store, book travel, grocery shop and run errands. To learn more about baby boomer financial habits and the rest of the generational cohorts, visit Generation Pay. Come explore generational payment trends through unique stories around the globe and gain the insights you need to create smarter consumer experiences.