Canada VS US: Baby Boomers

August 23, 2016
3 min read

Whether in the US or in Canada, Baby Boomers are a generation that sees themselves as responsible, realistic and compassionate. These characteristics point to the fact that they feel they are highly practical in the way they approach life, but not without feeling for others.

Though the generation sees themselves similarly in both countries, American Boomers are more likely to feel more aligned with their generation than Canadian Boomers. Specifically, American Boomers are more likely to give credit to members of their cohort for being responsible and realistic; while Canadian Boomers are more inclined to see other Boomers as materialistic.

Mintel’s Marketing to Baby Boomers Canada 2016 report reveals that Canadian Boomers hold negative sentiments toward their own generation as a result of the fact that other generations do not see them positively: non-Boomer Canadian consumers are most likely to see Boomers as materialistic and entitled. What’s more, few Canadian Boomers feel they get credit for being responsible, unlike American Boomers.

What role does technology play?

When it comes to online shopping, American Boomers are well ahead of Canadian Boomers: well over half of American Boomers have bought clothing and electronics online vs just two in five Canadian Boomers. While this is consistent with overall consumer patterns (Canadians lagging in e-commerce participation), the rate at which American Boomers are turning to the internet for purchases suggests a greater level of comfort in being online. This is exemplified by the fact that Canadian Boomers are more inclined to agree that technology over-complicates things.

Companies and media can do more

That nearly two thirds of American Boomers are buying clothing online alludes to the fact that there are likely more companies tailoring their offerings (both in terms of product and perhaps website interface) to this audience than there are in Canada. In other words, companies may be doing a better job at connecting with Boomers in the US.

Outside of retail exposure, American Boomers may have greater access to resources that teach seniors to navigate a wired world. For example, while seniors’ centres and retirement communities do offer free computer classes in both countries, the US is seeing the rise of businesses such as Senior Planet (self-acclaimed as “the first tech-themed resource for people 60+ who are living and aging with attitude”).

Geographically, the location of the technological development hub may also be benefiting American Boomers. As reported by Fast Company in November 2015, companies in Silicon Valley are “going gray” – ie they are honing in on technology designed for the elderly and their caregivers. The article reports that hundreds of “age-tech” start-ups have emerged in recent years. With many of these companies operating locally to start, proximity to such advances is likely helping to both grow exposure and comfort in using technology among American Boomers – a side-effect not reaching Canadian Boomers.

From a business perspective, Canadian Boomers are open to developing their skills in this area. Providing resources and catering to this consumer segment to close the digital gap will help Canadian Boomers lessen feelings of isolation and, overall, feel less disconnected from younger generations.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries. She has worked in market research and consulting for over 8 years both on the research and supplier side.

Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li

Carol Wong-Li is Mintel’s Director of Consumers & Culture Reports.

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