Today’s Empty-Nesters: 4 Surprising Insights Around the New Power Generation / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Today's empty-nesters are not as technology challenged as one might think. Here are 4 surprising insights into the lives of this generation.

Based on what we see in the media marketplace—not to mention conventional wisdom—we would expect the consumer group in question to represent the Millennial generation, smartphone-wielding digital natives in their post-college 20s to early 30s.Yet surprisingly, these statistics depict not Millennials, but today’s 45+ Empty-Nester generation, a cohort that’s risen to the challenge of an online world.

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.

In today’s online, social media-infused culture, the following consumer statistics hardly prove surprising:

  • 72 percent use their Smartphone to visit social media sites
  • 9 out of 10 consider themselves “texters”
  • 85 percent make purchases online for convenience

Influence Central teamed up with Vibrant Nation to field a research study of more than 600 American women, 45+ without children living at home. Our study revealed unprecedented research findings into how this generation defies long-held beliefs about Empty-Nesters’ digital and cultural complacency. It also demonstrated how Empty-Nesters’ emergent technology confidence has resulted in their embrace of a new era of product discovery and consumer purchasing.

Our research showed that a profound disconnect exists in how this generation sees themselves and how they’re viewed externally.

Here are four common myths surrounding the Empty-Nester generation: 

Related Article: Millennial Movers and Shakers: 9 Businesses Built by Gen Y for Gen Y

Myth #1: Empty-Nesters Can’t Master Digital Technology

Of all the myths surrounding Empty-Nesters, this one proves most dramatically false.  Despite not growing up in the digital era, Empty-Nesters have demonstrated their mettle by rising to the online challenge and embracing technological innovations.

Moreover, they stay connected to friends and family via social media, and 59 percent of Empty-Nesters share other’s posts on social media, using Facebook and Twitter. Today, nearly 90 percent have a Facebook account and 36 percent prefer texting to talking on the phone. In fact, tech-savvy Empty-Nesters have made the shift to online purchasing:

  • 82 percent spend more time browsing online than in-store.
  • 65 percent of Empty-Nesters use their Smartphone to seek out product information.
  • 64 percent of users make purchases from online retailers from their tablets.

Myth #2: Traditional Media Sparks Empty-Nesters’ Purchasing Decisions

While conventional wisdom says that this generation of women continues to be swayed by primetime commercials, as well as newspaper and magazine ads, our research revealed the exact opposite.

Empty-Nesters view traditional advertising with a skeptical eye, with only 11 percent agreeing that they trust what they read in print ads or hear in broadcast spots, and just 12 percent saying they are more likely to purchase a product when it’s used in a compelling ad.

So what does resonate? For this generation, first- and third-person reviews play a key role in their purchasing decisions:

  • Nearly 80 percent of Empty-Nesters are more likely to purchase a product if it receives a high star rating in a retail e-commerce review.
  • Nearly 75 percent are more likely to purchase a product that receives a positive first-person review.
  • In addition, 45 percent of Empty-Nesters are more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended by a blogger they follow.

Related Article: 77% of People Read Online Reviews Before Buying: Are They Finding You?

Myth 3#: Empty-Nesters Don’t Keep Up with Today’s Trends & Happenings

In today’s fast-moving culture with here-today-gone-tomorrow trends, many assume Empty-Nesters are disengaged or not interested in keeping up. By contrast, Empty-Nesters view themselves as modern women who think independently, and who feel confident in their lives and decision-making.

Moreover, 65 percent say they provide recommendations for their peers, and 58 percent say they’ve become the frontrunner over others to try new things. This confident generation sees themselves very differently from how they feel they are represented in news and entertainment media:

  • 71 percent disagree that they are behind the times or disengaged from consumerism and pop culture.
  • 68 percent consider themselves as the first person to try new things and an independent thinker.
  • 52 percent of Empty-Nesters turn to social media to stay current on news and trends.

Myth #4: Empty-Nesters Won’t Make the Shift to an Online World

This generation puts a great deal of thought into purchases and understands that today’s online recommendation culture has transformed them into even smarter consumers. More than 95 percent of Empty-Nesters trust products more after doing their own research and instead of the time-consuming comparison-shopping excursions of years past, now these consumers simply turn to Google and other online search engines.

And for personal relationships, more and more Empty-Nesters now use social media to stay connected with friends and family and to keep tabs on what's happening in their network of contacts. In reality, this generation will Google you:

  • Even if an Empty-Nester learns about a product offline, he or she will research online to find information, reviews and deals.
  • In fact, 90 percent of Empty-Nesters search for items online through Google or other search engines before making a spend.
  • 44 percent download coupons using their Smartphone.

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