Ask Mickey: What Do Baby Boomers Want When Shopping Beauty?
Introducing our new “Ask Mickey” column, featuring expert insights from Mickey Tortorelli, founder of BeauteSchool Inc. Every two weeks, Mickey will answer a question related to excelling in beauty retail—from training and sales to customer service and beyond.
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What do baby boomers expect from their beauty shopping experience?
Born between 1946 and 1965, baby boomers have experienced an unprecedented level of economic growth and prosperity throughout their lifetime. They entered the world in a time of relative hardship, but have emerged as a successful and affluent generation.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 Census, 29 percent of Canadians (9.6 million people) are boomers. Many are now settling into retirement, enjoying many more luxuries and comforts in their golden years than experienced by generations before them.
In order to manage the shopping experience of baby boomers, it is important to understand how they are different from millennials (Generation Y). Here are the top three distinct characteristics of baby boomers:
1. Discrepancy Between the Mind and Body
What’s interesting about baby boomers is they know that growing old—aging—is inevitable, but consider growing up optional. Boomer women, in particular, are focused on staying youthful, especially with respect to their appearance. This attitude is not expected to change over time either; the boomer woman will always want to look and feel younger than her numerical age.
It’s always smart to keep up with anti-aging technology in the beauty world, especially given how quickly new breakthroughs pop up. Not only will you be able to speak to your boomer customers’ needs, but you can also introduce them to the latest, most advanced anti-aging products. Trust me, you’ll have their full attention.
2. Preference for Quality and Value
To boomers, quality and value are of the utmost importance. They don’t want to waste their time or money on products that won’t perform, or won’t perform as well as competing products. They’re willing to pay more for performance and are not overly brand-loyal. Boomers also want something different in terms of their shopping experience and purchases: they are “cautiously curious,” meaning they are somewhat bored with the status quo, but are not adventurous enough to break out of their habits unless given a reason to.
What this means is that boomers appreciate being educated about quality and about new products. Take the time to introduce them to new offerings, and explain how a specific option is a better choice than what they have been using! It’s important to stay current on launches, particularly anti-aging products, so you can speak confidently about the choices available.
3. Love for Face-to-Face Communication
Whereas millennials are digitally fluent and highly involved with social media, baby boomers are different: emails and online messages rarely hit the mark, unless the boomer is tech-savvy, and not all are. Face-to-face communication is important with this group, so personal attention would be much more appreciated.
Additionally, boomers do expect a certain level of professionalism and knowledge from the beauty advisors serving them—such as more structured consultations rather than casual ones.
There really is no trick to this—serve your customer genuinely and they will feel your enthusiasm and positive energy, but also ensure that you display a high level of professionalism. Great customer service will help make boomers customers for life!
Mickey Tortorelli, CTDP, is the CEO and founder of BeauteSchool Inc., Canada’s award-winning beauty training resource for industry professionals.