Baby boomers, not millennials, are the fastest growing renting demographic in America.
Conventional knowledge says that Americans aged 52+ have little interest in renting. It is largely accepted that most baby boomers are settled into long term mortgages or gearing up for retirement in their homes. In this case, conventional knowledge is incorrect, boomers are the second largest group of renters in the United States.
So what is causing this shift in traditional thinking?
In a word, simplicity. Boomers are starting to actively seek out communities that they can treat as a zero maintenance home base while they travel. They don’t want to deal with following HOA regulations, replacing appliances, and cleaning their pools. Empty nest syndrome shouldn’t be discounted as a major driving force either. When the kids are out on their own a simple 2 bed/2 bath place starts sounding more and more appealing.
Boomers control 70% of America’s disposable income. Yet less than 10% of the national multifamily marketing budget is spent on marketing towards them. What we have right now is an absolutely huge demographic that is ready to move in tomorrow, but aren’t getting any attention. Boomers must be tough to market to then right? Well, not so much.
According to a JTurner Research, advertising to Boomers is actually far easier than you might think. You are likely already going through all the correct motions without even thinking about it. The top three in-home features they seek are a full kitchen, maintenance free living, and storage. From a community standpoint boomers look for a quiet and safe place with leisure amenities. Essentially, they want a community to live in that offers them peace of mind so they can just enjoy life. Features like pools, tennis courts, ponds, or BBQ areas really sell; Boomers want amenities they can enjoy with their grandchildren.
I know what you’re probably thinking; you already market your community amenities and basics like kitchens and storage. The issue very well could be the mediums in which you’re spending your advertising dollars, not your amenities. While there is a ton of overlap between what millennials want in a community and what boomers want; the two don’t consume media in the same way.
The old trope that people in their 50’s are disconnected from technology doesn’t ring true for Boomers, they do however connect differently. 69% of Boomers use Facebook, 23% use LinkedIn, 24% don’t use any form of social media at all. So while your presence on Facebook continues to hold a ton of value, it’s not the most effective marketing medium.
A majority of the boomers on social media do not use Facebook in purchasing decisions. They trend more towards using it exclusively for personal connections. For the 52+ crowd physical collateral is still king. According to Nielsen, Boomers still account for the second highest consumption of physical media, trailing only behind Americans aged 65+. So while they will almost definitely view your website, property collateral is what gets in them in the door.
In a world with property websites, review websites, social media, apps, and smart phones; the most formidable weapon in your marketing arsenal may still be traditional physical collateral. At the very least it’s the most effective way to market to the generation that still carries America’s checkbook.