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Research proves how tech savvy empty nesters really are: how to reach them

August 25, 2014
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Empty nesters are often misunderstood

When you hear the phrase “tech savvy,” your mind likely imagines a 20-something in a hoodie, using the newest app on the newest smartphone, outpacing their elders. A decade ago, you would have been closer to the mark, but today, the term is applicable to another generation – Empty Nesters.

According to a new study by Influence Central, “digitally fluent” and “tech savvy” are easily descriptors of the 45+ Empty Nester generation, as this consumer group has widely adopted emerging technologies, catching up with Millennials and rising to the challenge of today’s available technologies.

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“Our research showed that a profound disconnect exists in how this generation sees themselves and how they’re viewed externally,” shares Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Influence Central. “Today’s Empty-Nesters feel confident, tech-savvy, and highly connective online, yet marketers still stereotype them as passively consuming traditional media and swept up in advertising. Empty-Nesters are embracing social media and today’s online recommendation culture, ignoring and disliking advertising, and completely redefining their consumer journey.”



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Quick facts from the study:

  1. Nearly 90 percent of Empty Nesters are on Facebook.
  2. Roughly 60 percent share posts through Twitter.
  3. Fully 72 percent use their smartphone to visit social media sites.
  4. 90 percent consider themselves texters; 36 percent prefer it over talking on the phone.
  5. Nine in 10 research an item online before making a spend.
  6. Nearly 80 percent are more likely to purchase a product if it receives a high star rating in a retail e-commerce review.
  7. 75 percent are more likely to purchase a product that receives a positive first-person review.
  8. Fully 45 percent are more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended by a blogger they follow.
  9. 12 percent say they’re more likely to purchase a product when used in a compelling commercial ad.
  10. More than 65 percent say they are skeptical of traditional advertising.
  11. Over 80 percent spend more time browsing for products online than in the store.
  12. 65 percent use their smartphone to seek out product information.
  13. 64 percent make purchases from online retailers from their tablets.

So this generation is skeptical of traditional advertising, researches products endlessly, and relies on their phone or tablet to make purchases? Sounds familiar – Millennials, your parents have caught up with you. Brands need to pay attention to this rapid shift and cease treating anyone over 40 as if they don’t know how to turn on a computer.

5 surprising ways to reach empty nesters

In response to this research, Influence Central offers in their own words below, five ways your brand should be reaching these empty nesters:

1. Draw Up a New Marketing Playbook: With nearly 90% of today’s Empty-Nesters on Facebook and 9 out of 10 viewing themselves as “texters,” using yesterday’s marketing strategy no longer resonates. Brands need to shift their marketing approach and create new ways to reach Empty-Nesters as they continue their online navigation and spelunking.

2. Throw Out the Stereotypes: Twenty-first century Empty-Nesters see themselves as hip, modern adventurous women yet feel a gap in how they envision themselves and how they’re depicted in traditional marketing. As 60% tune out traditional ads because they feel they are not accurately targeted, marketers need to get a better understanding of where Empty-Nesters are at this life stage and change their strategies accordingly.

3. Make Them an Offer: While more than 60% of Empty-Nesters follow brands on social media, they do so with a purpose – to find deals, information, and coupons. In fact, this generation doesn’t want constant interaction or relationships with brands – they want promotions! Not surprisingly, just 33% enjoy when brands interact with them online.

4. Ramp Up Online Recommendations: This Generation Will Google You! For today’s Empty-Nesters, first- and third-person recommendations and reviews factor heavily into their purchasing decisions. More than 95% seek out online reviews of products to receive feedback and recommendations prior to purchasing, and 56% say negative restaurant/retailer reviews online would convince them not to visit these places.

5. Move From In-Store to Online: These on-the-move Empty-Nesters no longer browse leisurely in-store – now more than 80% spend more time looking around online for products than in brick-and-mortar stores. And mobile devices have become key purchasing tools, as 65% use their Smartphone to search for product information, and 64% make online retail purchases from their tablets.

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