At 70.4 million strong and second only in size to the 73.2 million millennials, baby boomers still yield the greatest influence on real estate of any generation. But, most importantly, the pandemic has forever changed the boomer as a consumer.
What will this mean for real estate? After all, boomers have possessed the most real estate wealth for more than two decades.
The pandemic has required us to rethink boomers. Before the pandemic, 84% of boomers preferred to shop in-store, according to CBRE. However, by the end of 2020, an estimated 62% of boomers were online shoppers, reports eMarketer.
The pandemic clearly accelerated boomers’ adoption of technology. From ordering groceries to calling an Uber to seeing their grandkids via Zoom, the explosion in the use of all things digital by boomers is unprecedented.
Research in the UK shows that boomers are spending four more hours per week online; their online spending share has increased from 25% to 37%, and their social media usage is up 66%. U.S. researchers are finding much the same, as NielsenIQ saw Americans over 65 increased their online shopping a stunning 53% more in 2020 than the year before.
Some experts predict that boomers, not millennials, may end up being the most active generation in the gig economy. Surprisingly, this was forecasted before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Boomers have become more comfortable and agile with technology and are clamoring to seize opportunities afforded by the gig economy. Wonolo, an online business staffing site, told the Mercury News that about one in three boomers worked more than three gigs per week compared to 22% of millennials. In addition, boomers and Gen Xers were tied for employer satisfaction, with the firms hiring them rating them at 4.86 out of 5—higher than the 4.81 average for millennials.
Boomers are more active and live longer than the generation before them, meaning their impact on real estate will last longer and be more pervasive than any prior generation.
The silver tsunami
Older consumers have learned other new tricks during the pandemic, including working remotely and just not working. Many boomers cashed in on the housing market, significantly increasing their wealth. Others retired. Many moved closer to the grandchildren. Others became renters so they could travel more and avoid lawn care.
From every aspect of housing—from rentals to second homes to investing in real estate—boomers are having more influence than ever. But as an industry, are we recognizing these changes? Are we adapting our marketing to better connect with this generation, or are we solely focused on millennials because there are more of them?
Let’s face it: boomers have wealth and influence. They are now more digitally savvy than ever before. So are we doing what needs to be done to better meet their needs?
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